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Social Intranet Best Practices – Balancing Intranet Governance And End-User Contribution

Sean R. Nicholson

Sean R. Nicholson

When it comes to managing Intranets, governance is one of those topics that tends to divide folks into some pretty extreme camps. One side contends that users should be able to govern themselves freely and, when left alone, content driven by the users will be rich and meaningful. The folks on the other side of the fence believe that content should be generated by one or more specific departments (usually Corporate Communications or HR) for consumption by the end-users.  Their position is often based on the argument that end-users would pose a risk to the organization by sharing incorrect, privileged, or inappropriate content if the wild west of end-user content were allowed. The reality is that these two camps each have their valid points, but the best practice is to land somewhere in the middle by allowing individual contribution, but providing some oversight.

While it’s always good to have one or two Intranet experts who understand the technical architecture of your portal and Intranet applications, it’s also valuable to seek input from not-so-technical Intranet power users from across your org. One tried and true method is to form an Intranet Governance Council that consists of the primary power user from each of the departments in your organization. By ensuring that each department is represented, you’ll hear about issues and concerns from throughout the entire organization and these representatives can solicit feedback from their end-users as well as help you spread of the word about upcoming changes or the addition of features/functionality.  When forming your Intranet council, it’s best to keep it to a small group, usually one or two representatives from each department and make sure to schedule a recurring meeting to get together and review your content management strategy and hash through any issues that might arise.

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At the start, it might feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen and some departments might attempt to set the expectation that their department should have more influence over the direction of the functionality or content. If this occurs, remind each representative that all departments have an equal share in the success or failure of the Intranet and working together is the key to success.  Sometimes this great quote from Henry Ford can help set the tone — “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”