Friday, September 4, 2009

Intranet Site Visits - August 31 & September 1, 2009

This week I attended an Intranet Site Visits event in Perth, Western Australia. These events are invaluable for Intranet Managers as it gives the opportunity to see inside other organisations and see their Intranets first hand. Because of the fact that Intranets are internal facing and seldom seen by outsiders I value events like this. It also reinforces the fact Intranet Managers and Teams everywhere share the same kind of problems and issues regardless of the size and success of their organisations.

We got to visit 3 very different sites:

Some of the points I found very interesting from the presentations and the live demonstrations.
  • Both Sharepoint sites had used pretty much out of the box implementations. They have learned that heavy customistion of the Sharepoint product can produce great results initially however can cause significant problems when future product upgrades are considered or needed.

  • An open source solution as used by Lotterywest provides a very flexible platform on which innovative and unique Intranet applications can be developed and delivered. Providing you have a couple of talented and enthusiastic web developers handy to help.

  • Every organisation and every user is different. I am never surprised by this as it is something I have discovered time and time again. Those who end up with successful Intranets are those who put the preliminary work in on determining User Requirements via Workplace Observation, Contextual Enquiry, User and Stakeholder interviews etc.

  • Get as many end users involved in the planning, development, implementation and testing stages as possible. Users that have played a role in the development and decision making stages maintain a loyalty and pride in the end result that is invaluable.

  • Expectations of Intranet Managers and Intranet Teams are high however ongoing support and provision of adequate resources both monitory & physical are rare. The value of an executive sponsor that recognises the value of the Intranet and is prepared to champion the cause is immeasurable.
On day one of the event I held a workshop entitled "What Will Make You An Intranet Superstar?". Apart from having a blatantly over the top title, I aimed to provide participants with a few tips and techniques to help them better organise their time and focus their efforts on activities that would help gather support and gain momentum and hopefully get noticed.

I am a big fan of the Step Two 6x2 Methodology and try to regularly deliver Intranet features and enhancements that are both Visible and Tangible. I showed the group how to judge a proposed enhancement to ensure they were able to deliver on a tight timeframe, an available budget and receive the maximum possible exposure from the result. Hopefully those present were able to get some value from this thinking.

Another exercise I introduced was to define attributes of the Ideal Intranet. Using the Microsoft Product Reaction cards, groups were asked to pick 6 terms from a total of 118 possibilities that they felt described their vision of a perfect Intranet. The task is fun, it generates lots of discussion and after the exercise is completed you have 6 terms that can be used as an inspiration.

When you complete some new work you can measure it against your 6 ideal terms and see how many of them fit. If you can ever match the 6 Vision words with something you have delivered to your users you should be able to retire contented.

Unfortunately I was unable to take comprehensive notes while facilitating the workshop but I did manage to jot down the results from one table and the 6 terms they chose from the 118 possibilities were.

Work Cloud from

Two of the three groups participating in the Intranet Vision exercise had one term in common and all picked very similar terms which demonstrates that as Intranet Managers from different backgrounds and organisation we all seem to share a similar vision for the Intranet we manage and the users we serve.

I must say I enjoyed the event immensely. I loved visiting Perth, it is a really lovely looking city and I also loved Fremantle and the colonial look and feel of the place. The fellow Intranet professionals I met were wonderful as were the sites we visited and Intranets that were demonstrated for us. Thanks to the site hosts ( Tracey-Anne, Glenn & Donna) for letting us see under their hoods so to speak and thanks to the event organisers (Aimee & Erin) for giving me the opportunity to attend and speak at the event. Will do it again anywhere and anytime without hesitation if asked.

1 comment:

Testing User said...

Very nice article written on Internet site visits. User testing is one of the way through we can increase Internet visits for any particular site.