How would you feel if your favorite news source failed to add new content for days – weeks – or months at a time? Would you continue to visit their page daily for updates?
Keeping tabs on your intranet’s content is extremely important when it comes to overall success and adoption – content needs to be fresh and consistent. If a content authoring governance plan isn’t outlined early on, beware! As the old adage goes: “Guidelines at start, sailors are smart; guidelines at end, sailors must mend!”
We work with companies of all shapes and sizes to help implement intranets that stick. Here are some tips that we provide clients who are in the process of developing intranet governance guidelines:
1. Form Two Governance Committees
The Steering Committee
To ensure a successful steering committee, involve a cross section of roles within the organization such as IT, HR, Marketing, etc. These are the folks that are responsible for the higher level of responsibility for the intranet such as policies, project prioritization, and budget. They will define the guiding mission of the intranet which the working group will adhere to and propagate.
The Working Group
This group will be the backbone of your intranet; they will be to your intranet as the Justice League is to America. They will defend the content, outline the requirements, guide and train the content authors, and determine the review workflows. They will also populate the governance center which we recommend is accessible to everyone on your corporate intranet.
2. Create a Content Authoring Matrix
Create a matrix to outline all of the locations in your intranet that have dynamic content space (ie: News and Events) and determine how often they should be updated and reviewed. What’s needed, when, and who is responsible? Perhaps the employee spotlight should be updated monthly, but the corporate news should be weekly. Determine who is responsible for each. The governance committee may also choose to assign tasks based on the defined schedule.
Content Authoring Matrix Example
3. Determine the Ownership & Review Process
It’s unlikely you’d want your employees to charge their mileage rate at $5.00 per km when the rate is actually $0.50 – so it’s important to review content for accuracy. For some pages – such as social events - content might be submitted and published directly; however, other items - like forms, and guidelines – may need to be reviewed for content and quality both when ready for publishing, as well as throughout the year. Defining content ownership early on makes sure that content authors are held accountable and that delivered content is appropriate. Additionally, defining review lifecycles ensures the content remains relevant. For a template of the examples below, download our Intranet Governance Template.
Content Ownership Example
Lifecycle Review Example
4. Create Style Guides
If your intranet solution doesn’t have your company’s font standards packaged right into the text editor, it’s recommended that you create style guidelines or you might end up with electric blue size 72 text in your accounting pages, and size 16 hot pink comic sans in your HR news updates. Consider the needs of each department – what size should the images be, what format, and sourced from where? How long should each piece of content be? What page layout should be used? Outlining this will save the team headaches down the road – this allows you to either be very strict with your intranet’s appearance, or to offer your team several choices which will let them be creative yet still keep a distinct feel site-wide.
Text Guide Example
Page Guide Example
5. Immerse the Intranet into Your Culture
Authoring content for the intranet isn’t in most people’s job description, so finding time can be tricky – and even then, what does one write? Consider putting a suggestion box on your site to gather article ideas and feedback, and have managers consistently remind colleagues to contribute their thoughts to it. Since many companies are now in the habit of routine employee reviews, assigning one piece of content per quarter to individual employees will not only assist the manager in determining achievable goals, but will populate the intranet with varying types of content.
Remember that making the intranet a part of the company culture isn’t an overnight process – it needs to made a part of the “norm”. Creating and promoting habits that require intranet visits will drive the culture.
“Victor will write one piece of editorial, news, or other content for the accounting department intranet home page – it will be between 300 and 600 words, relevant to accounting, and he will select one image to accompany it. Deadline is before December 31st.”
“Victor will comment on at least 6 pieces of content in the intranet using the comment fields by December 31st. The comments should be longer than one word, and relevant to the topic at hand.”
“Victor will write one article every quarter to promote employees to make use of the suggestion box, to ensure we receive a variety of good topics and an understanding of what colleagues are looking for.”