Want a really rocking intranet? A SharePoint 2013 installation that will help increase company productivity? A solid enterprise content strategy underlies what research identifies as the most important metrics for measuring your intranet’s ROI.

Here’s how our intranet content approach works at DEG Enterprise Collaboration. First you start with user research (Part I of this blog series). Next you move to strategic analysis (Part II), followed by design and planning (Part III). Now in Part IV, we cover the last major elements of enterprise content strategy. Content migration, content management, content creation, and governance – these gotchas often get lost in the shuffle. However, missing them will affect not only timelines and user adoption rate, but also the overall efficiency of your installation.

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SharePoint 2013 Content Migration

Moving content – what’s so hard about that? Well, migrations often involve some sort of an upgrade. Or maybe you’re migrating to a new information architecture with sections and pages that didn’t exist before. There might also be bulk metadata upgrades… and yeah. It’s best to plan timelines and resources well ahead of time.

We’ve written several blogs to help you through this process. If you’re a techie, check out Nick’s handy tips and tricks to content migration, and also take a look at this recent video. If you’re a project manager, please read through our content migration blog series (Part I, Part II, and Part III). If you’re hazy on the whole concept of migration and are looking for general models and assessment strategies, check out this marvelous blog post at SharePoint Pro.

Intranet Content Creation

Content covers more than written text. In most companies, though, people don’t get very hung up on image selection, video formatting, etc. But believe us – they do care very much about the text. As a result, your intranet is likely to have way more editors than actual content generators. Your writers are also likely not to have much background in web writing.

Mushroom cloud in the making? Not if you move fast, and don’t wait until the last moment to start sorting this out. John Zeratsky of Google Ventures argues that writing is key to the user experience. In a waterfall process, your web writing should be developed throughout the design phase. Here’s some tricks we’ve found helpful for creating intranet content.

  • Establish an editorial and style guide. What do your standard page templates look like? (In SharePoint, you can even configure a limited number.) How will you handle links? What image types and sizes will be standard? How will you handle video? Decisions like this help provide consistency across all pages of your site, and in SharePoint you can build much of the style guide into your system.
  • Establish a clear editorial calendar and workflow. Decide who drafts, who edits, who approves (including SMEs), and the required turnaround time. It also helps to manage the project through a shared spreadsheet, and to rank key content that needs created first. That key content might not necessarily be what the boss wants, either – it might be the core content that all other content will need to link or refer to.

Create task-based content. Research shows an ongoing shift in intranet information architectures, moving toward task-based organization and away from topical, departmental-based taxonomies. This means that your content needs to be re-organized to be task-based as well. Your intranet user judges the quality, credibility, and usefulness of your content in part on how quickly it helps them solve problems or accomplish tasks. They want to fill out the reimbursement form, not wade through the throat-clearing where accounting explains its departmental mission. There’s a place for that stuff on an intranet, sure, but it’s not key content for most users.

SharePoint Governance Tips

Yes, I know. If you have made it this far, you are so done with content. You just want to walk away and never think about any of this ever again. Mistaaaaaake. Content is an asset, and you must manage it or your content burden will bloat out of control. When this happens, content will transform from an asset to a risk faster than you can say “server maintenance.”

Enter the need for ongoing governance. Best practices are nice, of course, but the key to SharePoint governance is that you actually DO it. Think of it this way. Would you build a new home and then go on vacation for oh, say a year, leaving the doors wide open for anyone to wander in? No. Please don’t do the equivalent with your beautiful new intranet.

The next trick to successful intranet governance is – strangely – not to overdo it. To encourage user adoption, you want to hit the sweet spot between good cop and bad cop. If you’re too nice, your intranet will quickly become fragmented as everyone recreates their internal silos. However, if you’re too mean, no one will want to come over to your house and play with your toys, either.

Developing a solid enterprise content strategy is a key component of getting the full ROI from your intranet redesign. Also, think about your content burden five years ago, then think what it will look like five years from now. How will you manage the sheer volume? How will you filter through the mass of information to extract, process, and circulate valuable organizational knowledge?

Never fear. Developing a content strategy for your intranet is a great place to start.

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