Posts Tagged ‘lean intranets’

Boom and bust – the intranet life cycle

October 3, 2010

Recently speaking at Janus Boye’s ‘Intranets at Work’ conference I introduced the concept of the intranet life cycle and intranet ‘boom and bust’.

I have been thinking about this concept for many years, ever since I carried out  some initial use research for a local government intranet I was trying to get off the ground.

I was doing some contextual research with staff, sitting down with people at their desks and asking what they did, trying to establish their information needs and wants. I started talking to one guy and gave him the prepared spiel about what the project was and what we were trying to achieve when a knowing smile grew on his face. He’d been with the organization for over fifteen years and he had seen it all before. He co-operated fully and gave me some great data but the way he wished me luck at the end of the interview made me feel like I was going to need it. I asked him why.

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The Lean Intranet: Intranet 2.0 and Intranet 3.0

June 28, 2009

In the third of three articles on the Lean Intranet, I discuss the implementation of Intranet 2.0 and look beyond to what Intranet 3.0 might look like. You can access the article on the FUMSI website.

If you have any comments I’d be grateful if you could post them here.

The Lean Intranet – Part Two: Intranet 1.0

May 6, 2009

The second part of a three part series of articles on the Lean Intranet, where I discuss how a robust Intranet 1.0 might be achieved, is now available on the FUMSI website.

If you have any comments I’d be grateful if you could post them here.

The Lean Intranet: Part 1 Intranet Zero

February 2, 2009

I’ve written more on the concept of the Lean Intranet . In the first of three articles for FUMSI I discuss what I call Intranet Zero.

I’d be grateful if you would post any comments on the article here.

Improving your intranet – keep it sustainable using kaizen

January 25, 2009

elephantThings can go so badly wrong with an intranet that the intranet team is left floundering.  Many intranet teams can get dispirited because the myriad of problems seem insurmountable, the size of a mountain, or at least an elephant.

What usually happens then is that an equally large re-design project with the turning circle of an oil tanker is initiated. However vital parts of the re-design don’t work or even make the problem worse and at the end of the project the team throw their hands up in the air in exasperation and doom and gloom descends once more. Sound familiar?

James Robertson talking at the BBC last year stated research has shown that  intranet re-designs in general do not work and Lou Rosenfeld, as quoted in the Brainspill blog,  felt that many re-designs were only skin deep anyway –

‘Re-design” implies only a cosmetic change. Too many redesigns are just changing the window dressing on the same product – decidedly not changing the product itself.  If the problem that prompts a redesign is that the information isn’t being used (because it’s not well presented/organized/found/etc), then changing what color it is doesn’t genuinely help.’

So what is to be done? How can we get rid of the elephant? Simple – we eat it. And how do you eat an elephant? One slice at a time ……or in other words by adopting kaizen.

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Content Value Analysis for Intranets Part 2 – A methodology

October 8, 2008

content2I’ve written before on an approach called Content Value Analysis (CVA) and I’ve now produced the detail of how this might be done in practice. Chiara Fox of Adaptive Path in her presentation on Content Analysis came closest to this approach when she talked about Content Audits at Euro IA 2008.

However there is a crucial difference between our approaches – the use of statistical techniques and documented heuristics. No don’t reach for that mouse yet! What I’m suggesting is not difficult, will give great substance to your final analysis and will probably save you a lot of work.

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Content value analysis for intranets

September 14, 2008

It might go something like this –

– Sampling would have to represent a fair percentage of the content and samples would have to be taken from several areas of a site or sub-site. Areas must be selected without bias. In an intranet with 1,000 pages a fair sample might be at a minimum 5%, that is 50 pages, or you could use statistical tables for sample sizes.

– Each page would be examined and scored for its value against a set of heuristics e.g. if content is obsolete, outside of a review date, incorrect, incomplete or irrelevant the score would be 0. If there is some value on the page it could be marked as 0.5 and if the page content generally has value the score would be 1. Perhaps screen dumps of representative non-value adding pages might form part of a results document. 

– The scores would then be aggregated and presented as a percentage e.g. if after appraisal of our sample 50 pages the score is 28.5, then we could present the site as providing only 57% of the possible content value to its users

This might encourage content owners to improve their scores by ensuring that non-value adding pages are deleted, reviewed or that good content is added. I think that the trick in making this approach work will be in defining the heuristics and finding a way of removing any bias from the sample.

Using this approach (I call it ‘Content Value Analysis’ as it has to be called something) it should be possible to benchmark sites and parts of sites against each other by using the same heuristics and, if done periodically, to chart improvement trends in the value a site offers its users.

Hopefully this approach will provide intranet managers with a tool that allows them to assess content in a structured way, produce a number that will accurately reflect the state of the content within the site evaluated and then to repeat the process over time to ensure that the intranet is going in the right direction – towards the lean intranet. Results can then be presented graphically as bar charts or graphs – a form of information that most senior managers are comfortable with and understand.

For a more complete description of the methodology see Part 2

Intranet 2.0: the need for ‘lean intranets’

September 5, 2008

I read a couple of blog posts recently that seemed to make a lot of sense to me when thought of together. The first post was in Toby Ward’s excellent IntranetBlog entitled ‘Intranet 2.0 sits on the back burner’. Here Toby comments on a recent survey which semed to indicate that Intranet 2.0 isn’t really getting off the ground with the take up rate for blogs, wikis and social tagging in organisations not getting above 15%.

The other post was in Giraffe Forum and was entitled ‘Intranets are not information dumps’. In the article the author states ‘The vast majority of intranets would be far more productive and collaborative if they deleted at least 90 percent of the content they currently have’. Not long ago I was responsible for redesigning the intranet for a large local government department. Having giving it a lot of thought I ended up cutting out around 40% of the content, much of which I had been responsible for inserting in the first place. It was painful but I was quite staggered with the minimalist, clean lines of the redesigned intranet. No-one seemed to miss the content that had been removed and I started to get compliments on how easy navigation had become.

So where is this leading?

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