A simple way to approach intranet governance

Governance is sometimes a scary word. It is often misinterpreted as a set of borderline Orwellian policies and procedures, when in reality it is little more than a set of shared values; it simply allows a company to track and manage the things it is supposed to.

At ThoughtFarmer, we see governance as overseeing an intranet after launch so as to ensure all employees are on the same page.

More than a set of official policies and procedures, governance does involve such things as training users, monitoring activities, collecting data. And a well thought-out model can be the difference between long-term success and eventual failure.

Why intranet governance is important

Trevor Allen, ThoughtFarmer’s senior user experience designer and resident governance expert says, “a social intranet is a way to cultivate an engaged culture and governance ties into employee and customer engagement”.

A well-defined governance structure can help overcome three common intranet governance roadblocks: politics, a lack of clear purpose and a lack of data. Furthermore, adoption can be difficult without an intranet strategy supported by governance processes, and sometimes roles and responsibilities change after an intranet project becomes a program. Finally, having a governance structure in place can help minimize confusion if intranet managers change or executive sponsors move on after launch.

ThoughtFarmer’s governance approach

ThoughtFarmer helps clients roll-out successful intranets by starting governance conversations early on in the project phase. This approach ensures that we can get the right people and right processes in the right place and at the right time for launch. Our discussions help clients land on two main pieces of governance:

  1. Selecting people and setting clear responsibilities based on a defined intranet strategy.
  2. 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.

Governance Models

By identifying their existing governance model and what they envision it looking like 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.

Commitment to ongoing meetings

Making a point to discuss the intranet often is a great way to amplify the good behaviours that blossom as a result of launching a new intranet. Gather key stakeholders regularly to ensure the governance matrix is being carried out by setting up a meeting schedule at the beginning of an intranet project. Bi-weekly working group meetings based on standing topics are a great way to keep intranet conversations going along. And, add the intranet to other meeting agendas, such as quarterly management meetings or weekly communications check ins, to give it a cross-functional focus.

Long-term commitment

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 staff 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 governance plan is a good plan

Even the simplest governance model can be 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,“ Trevor says.

So that’s it. At its core, governance is designed to optimize a company’s internal operations. It is 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.

Looking to enhance your content management approach? Read our article, 4 Questions for Governing Collaborative Content to help you create a governance framework that makes it easier to manage collaborative content.