Saturday, June 14, 2008

Intranet pruning

My team, in association with our web of content editors, recently completed a major review of the content within our intranet.

This has dramatically improved the currency of information throughout the site, with over 90% of the content having been reviewed and updated within the last year, up from slightly over 60% before I took over the intranet.

The oldest content in the site now is less than two years old, and generally these are navigational pages where the links remain current and there's no content to update.

A complaint I've heard regularly in other organisations I've worked for is that the intranet was no use as the content was old and was never updated.

This, along with search issues, appear to the two of the largest complaints about most intranets (and as was pointed out at a recent conference I attended, if you improve them but don't promote the changes staff will not change their perceptions).

The content review, considering our intranet is now around 3,000 pages in size - took around six months in total as a background task for two people alongside other work.

We were helped enormously by the content owners across the agency, who understand the importance of our intranet to the agency's day-to-day functioning. My team has also put considerable effort into building this understanding, which helps underpin the intranet's value.

There were some pages which had lost their owners due to normal organisational attrition, and when we could not identify other owners with the help of business areas we took a 'slash and burn' approach - we gave the agency's business areas a month's notice and then removing unowned pages from the live intranet to see if anyone complained.

This worked fantastically well - where pages were important there were rapid complaints and a content owner stepped forward. Given that it only takes a few seconds to restore a page, there were no long-term impacts and we now know who owns all the content in the intranet for ongoing review.

This approach may not work for all organisations, however given the large changes we're implementing at the moment, it made sense to create a little pain to avoid much greater pain in the future.

Our ongoing reviews will now be substantially smaller and the approach has also been useful in further building the credibility of our intranet as we've promoted the updating widely within the organisation.

I'd be very interested in the experiences of other managers in maintaining information currency in their online properties.

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