Governance can seem like a daunting concept, but in essence it's just being clear about who can do what on your intranet.
Most organizations find that creating a governance document outlining the purpose and permissions of their intranet will ensure consistency of ongoing intranet operations, and head off potential conflicts with the intranet team or with staff.
In This Article
The ideal starting point is to have a person or several people who are the champions of the organizational intranet. Rather than simply being tasked with dealing with the intranet, they truly believe in it as a powerful mechanism to effect positive change and communication within the organization. If you're lucky enough to have people with that passion, leverage their skill/interest and have them play a key role in your intranet!
At IC Thrive, we've found that intranets are most successful when there is a collaborative approach (i.e. content is created by multiple areas within the organization), yet it's clear who has responsibility for each area and for the overall intranet - that's where creating a Governance document is key for success. The areas listed below should ideally be described in a simple intranet governance document, available to anyone within the organization....on your intranet!
From the IC Thrive Blog
Identify a Clear Strategy
Setting clear goals, purpose and content strategy for your intranet guides administrators' decisions on items such as design, navigation, and permissions. Is the intranet primarily for communication? Engagement? Does it have a 'sense of humor' or personality? What's the primary goal(s) of the home page?
Be clear about the role of the intranet and use that as the guiding principle for making decisions on functionality and content.
Define Roles and Responsibilities
Start at top with defining intranet roles and responsibilities. Depending on the structure of your organization and level of resourcing, the same person or team may perform multiple roles. Key questions to be answered include:
- Who has the ultimate decision-making authority for the site?
- Who is responsible for the smooth technical operation of the intranet, including patching, performance, security, etc?
- Who is responsible for overall navigation? Design?
- Who can contribute content to what areas of the intranet (e.g. news, blogs, comments)?
We recommend including the above areas of responsibility in your governance document to ensure transparency to the rest of the organization.
For the hands-on functions, enforcing defined roles and responsibilities using built-in software functionality is a straightforward way to allow/restrict permissions as appropriate. Various user rights are available within the intranet software.
The most frequently used roles include:
- Super Admin - full access to all Admin functions, as well as the ability to impersonate users. Typically appropriate for the key IT contact who needs to be able to impersonate users to troubleshoot specific issues, or for content creators who need to impersonate users to add content on their behalf (e.g. ghostwriting a blog for an executive).
- Admin - Admins have full rights over intranet functions but can't impersonate users. Most organizations have several Admins who update content and navigation, to allow for redundancy and vacation coverage.
- Site Owner - If your intranet has team or department sites (e.g. Human Resources, Project Team, Scranton Branch), assigning Site Owners gives each site a designated person or team who is responsible for keeping the site up-to-date. A Site Owner has full rights over their standalone area of navigation, content, and design. Note that Site Owners can be individuals or groups.
Leverage Software Functionality
There are numerous ways to use the built-in functions of our intranet software to automate governance rules. Options include:
- Approvals on content creation - if you'd like employees to be able to contribute content to an intranet area (e.g. Company News) but management is a little concerned about what might be posted, add an approval workflow so that staff from Communications or HR can review and fine-tune before publishing. Learn more about creating workflow.
Group User Rights - Groups are the optimal way of assigning rights and responsibilities within the intranet, allowing for assigned functions to continue smoothly despite vacations, change of roles, or staff turnover. Learn more about Group User Rights. Specifically, Group User Rights can be used for:
- Access to folder contents - within an Application such as Suggestion Box, access to content folders can be assigned to Groups to view, add, edit, or delete contents. This can be used to manage content or for limiting content creation to specific Group members.
- Workflow - a Group can be involved in the assigned workflow for any form or for Applications (as noted above for content creation).
- Application Owner - a Group can also be assigned as an App owner, giving any member of the Group full rights to view, add, edit, and delete any content within the App. Learn more about Security for Apps.
- Review dates to avoid stale content - keep your intranet content fresh by adding a review date on documents or policies to automatically remind the owner that it's time to review the file for content and continued accuracy. Learn more about the Document Review function.
Make the Rules Clear
It's much easier to provide clear rules in advance and head off unpleasant situations due to misunderstandings. If your organization already has a respectful workplace policy, referencing this document within your intranet governance is a good reminder; if you don't have an existing policy, including wording in your governance about respect and non-tolerated behavior is a great idea.
Other employee-specific content which makes sense to include in a governance document are:
- Profile Photos - what types of photos are allowed? Does the employee need to be recognizable so the directory helps to function as a security measure? Or are 'profile photos' of children, pets, hobbies, etc. okay in your workplace? Set up the rules so less policing is needed.
- Wall Posts - Is there unacceptable content for wall posts, or content which is encouraged? Mention this in the Wall Guidelines which appear within the wall post area, and mention them within your governance document.
- Content Creation - are there specific areas of your intranet where staff can contribute content? Get specific about the ways staff can contribute and appropriate types of contribution in your governance document so all employees understand the rules and can play within them. Take it one step further and include some simple instructions as well, so staff know how to get started.
Ensure Continuous Intranet Improvements
The underlying idea of intranet governance is to keep your intranet functioning as it should, and continuous improvement is a key aspect of that function.
Since the intranet is designed for staff, getting their ongoing input is important. Options include:
- Survey - if you want a pulse of staff opinions, ask one question by adding a Quick Poll to your home page; learn more about Quick Polls. Or try a more in-depth annual poll asking staff about intranet use and issues.
- Stats - Version 14.0 provides an enhanced understanding of the most popular intranet features, missed searches, etc. for custom time periods. This data provides valuable insights to guide your intranet decisions.
- Feedback link - include a form on your site giving users to opportunity to rate the overall function, give suggestions, etc. We recommend a simple graphic in an image widget on the home page linked to the feedback form, as in the example below. Learn more about the Image Widget.
Intranet Steering Group
Of course, getting input from staff is only the first part of the equation - you then have to assess and action that feedback. Having an organizational Intranet Steering Group or Governance Committee which holds regular meetings will allow for a mechanism to review staff input, as well as ensuring that the intranet gets a higher profile organization-wide.
The structure of the Steering Group is completely dependent on your organization and the level of resourcing. A two-person committee may suffice, or there may be representation from all key stakeholders (e.g. Communications, Human Resources, Facilities, IT).