Governance can be a scary word.
For a lot of people, it implies an overly bureaucratic process that prioritizes politics over action and is something to be avoided. But a good governance process can help your intranet project by providing clarity around project goals, identify key stakeholders and their responsibility, and provide a framework to review, learn and improve your intranet over time.
At ThoughtFarmer, we recommend defining the governance for the intranet during the launch planning process to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page. More than a set of official policies and procedures, intranet governance involves training users, monitoring activities, and collecting data. While this may feel like a lot of effort, a well-thought-out intranet governance model can be the difference between long-term success and eventual failure.
Why intranet governance is important
A well-defined intranet governance structure can address three common roadblocks: identifying key people involved with the intranet, the information they need to make decisions, and who is responsible for making the decisions.
A good governance model includes answers “why” the project exists, and brings clarity to the key goals of the project. Governance can help define the priorities for the intranet, which is important if a phased launch approach is planned. A governance model can also help address content sprawl, by easily identifying authoring roles and responsibilities.
Finally, by reviewing the governance model on a regular basis, it can help provide continuity and minimize confusion if intranet managers change or move on after launch.
ThoughtFarmer’s governance approach
At ThoughtFarmer we help clients roll-out successful intranets by starting governance conversations early on in the project phase.
This approach ensures we get the right people and processes in place and at the right time for launch. Our discussions help clients land on two main pieces of governance:
- Selecting people and setting clear responsibilities based on a defined intranet strategy.
- Making sure the people selected are executing the strategy effectively.
We also break down the process into manageable chunks, enabling stakeholders to work together and lay the foundation for a solid governance plan.
By identifying their existing governance model and how they envision it after launch, clients can set a direction for the future. Options range from a centralized model—the communications team owns all of the content and makes the majority of updates, to a hybrid approach—the intranet team manages a decentralized group of content owners who regularly audit and update content.
Roles and responsibilities after launch
Creating a governance matrix based on the RACI model—a well-known tool for identifying who will complete specific tasks for a project or business process— helps organizations define who’ll be responsible for the following elements: what the governance team is going to do (task), how they’re going to it (method) and how they know they did it (measurement). A steering committee or working group can help share the benefits of using the intranet.
Commit to ongoing meetings
It is important to gather key stakeholders regularly to ensure the governance matrix is carried out. Bi-weekly working group meetings based on standing topics are a great way to keep intranet conversations moving forward. Consider also adding the intranet to other meeting agendas, such as quarterly management meetings or weekly communications check-ins, to give it a cross-functional focus.
Keep it moving
An intranet governance cycle helps organize governance activities like maintaining a current and measurable intranet strategy, seeking and discussing feedback, and making improvements based on stakeholder and employee input. Use the feedback collected to form a framework for action, basing any new recommendations on observations, conclusions, and design implications drawn from the data collected.
Any intranet governance plan is a good plan
Even the simplest governance model is effective in ensuring continued intranet success. We advise clients to create a workable plan that they can regularly monitor and modify as necessary. It can be as simple as putting together an outline of your governance process along with some guidelines, like regular meetings. If you find your governance structure needs work, switch it up. It’s a living resource, just like your intranet.
So that’s it. At its core, governance is designed to optimize a company’s internal operations. It is a process made up of people with clear roles and responsibilities, who can collectively ensure the intranet is a valuable and valued resource for years to come.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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