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How to Build an Effective Intranet Governance Model

Diana May

May 29, 2020 · 4 min read

Governance is one of those words that can put people on edge. Too often, it ends up as a big book of “you must not” rules that turns everybody off. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When it comes to your intranet or digital workplace solution, governance is a way to ensure your daily activities align with your overall intranet strategy. With every action you take, you should be able to answer the question, “How does this bring us closer to the strategy that we’re trying to execute?”

We recently partnered with digital workplace expert and intranet guru Sam Marshall of ClearBox Consulting to get some insight. Sam talks through some easy ways to make intranet governance a positive undertaking that encourages good practice and – most importantly – that people will actually follow.

Why intranet governance is important

According to Sam, the first step is to think of governance not so much as rules, but as the day-to-day realization of your Intranet strategy.

Consider the goals of your overall strategy. Maybe they include helping to break down silos within the organization, improving employee engagement, or providing a space for safe, open communication between management and employees. Whatever your goals may be, the role of governance is to focus the use of your intranet towards achieving them.

Simply put, when an individual is faced with a choice about how to use the intranet, governance helps align those choices to the goals of your intranet.

Types of intranet governance

The key to good governance is choosing a model that works well for your organization. Sam suggests looking at the size of your organization and deciding how the intranet will be managed, using a centralized or decentralized approach. Knowing these things will help determine a governance strategy that works best for your goals and organization.

He also highlights five levels of governance:

  • Training
  • Monitoring
  • Constraints
  • Policies
  • Steering

These five levels should address all the most common areas that require governance, including roles, content, security, information management, legal, and design, etc. Sam breaks each of these areas down further in the webinar.

Appropriate governance allows users the freedom to enjoy the intranet for all it offers, while still having a clear understanding of its limitations, which are in place for everyone’s benefit.

To ensure the type of governance you chose is working, revisit your strategy every quarter to see if your goals are aligned and moving towards the results you’re wanting.

3 tips for establishing good governance

Effective intranet governance doesn’t happen accidentally. There are some specific steps you can take to ensure you’re building lasting and successful governance.

1. Monitor what matters

When evaluating your digital workplace, don’t measure everything. Sam emphasizes that you should only measure that which you’re willing to take action on to improve or change.

Here are three basic measurables to start with:

  1. Health: Are people able to login? Are posts and resources up to date?
  2. Adoption: Are people using the platform as you had planned?
  3. Value: Is the intranet providing the value for the organization that you were hoping for?

Regularly ask yourself these questions and make whatever adjustments are necessary to achieve positive results.

2. Accommodate constraints

What constraints has your governance created? A common one stems from image sourcing. Governance may be in place to prevent the use of poor quality or potentially inappropriate GIFs and photos. To help with that, provide an asset library – including photos of employees – that individuals can pull from for their various needs across the intranet.

3. Let people experiment

People likely won’t read about governance, but they will look at examples of what they can do and copy them. For that reason, it’s helpful to create a showcase site where you can demonstrate all the different ways pages can be created, widgets can be used, and information can be expressed.

Follow that up with a hidden playground site. Make it safe for people to experiment without worrying about breaking any rules. As people get more comfortable with what they can and cannot do, they’ll use the intranet more and to its full capacity.

Educate, don’t dictate

Remember, you only need to govern what you want to change. If people are already doing the right thing, it doesn’t need to be included in your governance. Keep governance rules clear and concise, emphasize the positives, and make it easy to do the right thing.

Watch the full webinar to learn more about:

  • Which governance type is most recommended
  • Who drives the requirements for governance
  • How to measure the value of your intranet governance

You can also visit the Igloo Playbook for more detailed information about implementing a Governance Strategy.

Sam Marshall

About Sam Marshall

Sam Marshall is the owner of ClearBox Consulting and has specialized in intranets and the digital workplace for over 19 years, working with companies such as Unilever, Vodafone, TUI Travel, Diageo, Sony, and GSK. His current activities focus on intranet and digital workplace strategy, and the business side of Office 365.

Sam is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences and has been named a ‘Contributor of the year’ for his CMSWire column four years in a row. In 2015 Sam was given the Intranet Now award for ‘remarkable contribution to the intranet community.’ He has an MSc in Artificial Intelligence, an MA in Psychology, and more bicycles than shoes. Email [email protected] or tweet @SamMarshall