The Real Value of Having An Intranet Team


At the end of my talk, titled When Social Media Meets Social Intranet, in November 2012 at Max Atria at Expo in Singapore, a gentleman asked me about how to ensure that the investment in social technology (i.e. social media and social intranet) worth the effort.

He told me that his organisation has invested in Yammer. However, after some initial enthusiasms, few people are using it now. So he was particularly interested on how to get people in the organisation to use Yammer.

This is a very common problem for social intranet. When there is a new technology in the organisation, everyone would want to use it – just like a new toy. However, after some time, people may perceive that there is little value in using it. After all, what’s the use of “yammering” your thoughts or ideas? You have better things to do.

The issue here is, of course, an expectation to get instant rewards from the use of social technology (i.e. Yammer). To bust such an unrealistic expectation, remind people to regularly share thoughts / ideas via social technology. And get someone (or a team) to do the nudging, promoting, and curating valuable insights and to profile the person who owns the idea.

When valuable ideas are curated and shared, people can immediately see the value of using social technology because they can straightaway harvest the “gems” of knowledge and skip the unnecessary stuff – often caused by over-sharing.

In other words, communities within Yammer or the social technology need to be cultivated and valuable knowledge needs to be highlighted. Only in rare exception, communities within an organisation, can grow by themselves through self-policing and self-managing – without any intervention by the management.

Organisations have to do away with “build it and they would come” mentality. Thus, organisations can’t just implement yammer, and expect people to just use it. Implementing social technologies requires time, effort, and patience – just like rolling out any corporate-wide initiative.

This is why organisations need to have an intranet team – who would be tasked with cultivating communities and leading change management effort to ensure the adoption of social technology. An intranet team need to also curate knowledge, facilitate discussion, and organise face-to-face activities that could boost the use of social technology.

Those activities require a dedicated intranet team – especially if your organisation is a large enterprise. If your organisation is an SME (Small Medium Enterprise), you probably only need one person to do the job. Getting part-timers (or getting people to do double-hatting) would be a bad idea because their attention will be divided, or worse, the work of cultivating communities is pushed to the bottom of the priority list.


When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 3

Continued from When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 2

How Social Intranet Delivers Value
Social Intranet is an intranet where all employees can author content and connect easily. Alternatively, you can think of Social Intranet as an internal social media for organisations.

Like Social Media, Social Intranet can provide many values to the organisation. But, mainly, Social Intranet can provide two main values: (1) A Platform for Internal Collaboration; (2) A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change.

1. A Platform for Internal Collaboration
Internal Collaboration simply means making work “social.” For example, Vodafone, a telecommunication company, uses Social Intranet to boost productivity of their sales team. Before implementation of Social Intranet, the sales people used to handle difficult customers alone. But thanks to Social Intranet, the sales people can exchange tips and best practices on handling difficult customers.

2. A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change
Social Intranet can also be used to facilitate change. For example, Farm Bureau Bank (FBB) in the United States, uses Social Intranet to communicate top management vision via internal blogs and discussion forums.

Other than blogs and discussion forums, Social Intranet provides a platform to launch a mock “internal social media” campaign. Yammer, one of twitter-like features, can be part of Social Intranet, and this feature can be used to further break down information silos in the organisation because it is essentially a platform for personal branding – which means employees can build their personal brand as they share knowledge via Yammer.

Social Intranet is pretty much like Social Media. A good Social Intranet has features like social networking, tagging, video repository, blogs, ratings, and wikis.

If your organisation is interested in building a social intranet, I have three products to recommend: (1) Microsoft Sharepoint and Yammer; (2) Jive Software; and (3) Thought Farmer. And if your organisation is an SME and can’t afford to invest in a social intranet, your organisation may want to try a free, cloud-based social intranet named bitrix24.

How Social Business Delivers Value

To recap, Social Media offers two values: (1) An effective platform for PR 2.0; and (2) A Platform to Emotionally Connect with Customers. And Social Intranet offers these values: (1) A Platform for Internal Collaboration; and (2) A Means to Reinforce Purpose and to Facilitate Change.

Consolidating values from Social Media and Social Intranet, we can immediately see values that Social Business can deliver: (1) Capability to deliver exceptional customer experience; (2) Collaborate better to improve productivity or to innovate; and (3) Be a more nimble organisation.

Two real-life examples illustrate the value of Social Business:
First, Samsung. By maintaining an active presence in Social Media and having a great Social Intranet, Samsung creates a service innovation called the smart care – which is a one-stop centre for servicing Samsung products.
Second, Xilinx who like Samsung, has an active presence in Social Media and a great Social Intranet. As a result, Xilinx raise engineers’ productivity by 25%.

Last slide. Three key take-away from this talk: (1) Organisations have to be in Social Media; (2) Social Media has to be supported by Social Intranet; and (3) Transform your organisation to be a Social Business to survive in today’s economy. Values are created, no longer through superior product or service, but through premium experience.

This blog post is part 3 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 2

Continued from When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part 1

How Social Media Delivers Value
Social media can deliver many values to organisations. But the two main values are: (1) An effective platform for PR 2.0; (2) A platform to emotionally connect with the customers.

I’m sure you can agree with me that capability to effectively use social media is no longer a choice, because today’s customers are the most difficult customers ever! Today’s customers are citizen journalists – which means customers can voice out their displeasure through social media like blog posts, Facebook posts, or Twitter.

How many of you have heard of a gentleman by the name of Jeff Jarvis? He is a prominent tech blogger who in 2005, wrote a blog post titled: “Dell lies. Dell Sucks.” In the blog post, Jarvis ranted about how poor Dell customer service was, and the blog post attracted over 100 “Me Too” comments. Imagine a simple blog post gets multiplied 100 times.

The Need for Social Media Policy
The first step to ensure that social media delivers value, is to put social media policies in place. The right policies can help to protect the organisation’s reputation from misuse of the social media by the employee.

Let me give you two examples. First, Ashley Payne – a school teacher in the US – was sacked by the school because she posted a photo of herself drinking alcohol in her Facebook. Ashley Payne sued the school for unfair dismissal.

Second, in Singapore context, Straits Times was in hot water recently because a disgruntled employee tweeted profanity using their corporate Twitter account. Regardless of your opinion about the two cases, you don’t want a lawsuit filed against your organisation or your employees abuse the corporate social media account.

Creating social media policy is fast becoming a necessity for organisations. According to research, 47% of Facebook walls contain profanity, but should employers give a darn?

Yes! Absolutely. Because a simple social media policy is often sufficient to prevent the misuse of corporate social media account. Take for example: Ford who came out with a simple social media policy that says: “Play Nice, Be Honest.” But my favorite is Oracle’s social media policy that says: “Employees must establish that all opinions are their own and not Oracle’s, but at the same time, distinguish that they are indeed employees of Oracle.” It’s my favorite because it covers all angle, Singapore’s style.

Let’s return to how social media delivers value.

1. An Effective Platform for PR 2.0
Social media is an effective platform for PR 2.0. Facebook can be used to serve as the corporate magazine to update customers on the latest happenings in the organisation like what Zappos did on their corporate Facebook. Twitter can be used as a broadcasting tool to update customers on the latest products / promotions like what Starbucks did on their corporate Twitter. And Youtube can be used to serve as a repository for corporate videos to convince customers that the product/service is indeed the best out there, just like what Popeye Chicken did on their youtube account.

Furthermore, social media can be used as a means to showcase social proof. For example, Sony used Pinterest as a digital brochure that can showcase the number of likes that a product/service received. The number of likes is a social proof that some customers out there like the product/service.

2. A Platform to Emotionally Connect with the Customers
Social media can also be used as a platform to emotionally connect with the customers. What do I mean by connecting emotionally? A product/service is more than just what it is. A product/service means a tool to improve the standard of living of your customers, i.e. a way to make them happy. Connecting emotionally means highlighting the story behind a product/service, on how a product/service makes the customer happy.

Here are two stories to highlight this point: (1) University of Phoenix tells stories in Youtube about how online degrees improve the standard of living of their students; (2) Tom Shoes tells stories, using a corporate blog, about how the company helps disadvantaged children, in developing world, who have no shoes.

But no matter how well-crafted the social media policy is, and how good the creative content is, social media can still backfires as what McDonald and Nestle found out recently. McDonald’s Twitter campaign to collect positive stories backfires when it was swarmed by negative stories about McDonald’s product. While Nestle’s Facebook campaign backfires when a group of environmentalists posted modified logo of Nestle’s products. It got worse when Nestle staff tried to stop them from doing so.

So what can we do to prevent a social media campaign to turn against what it is intended to be?

Well, first things first, the organisation has to let go of control. There is no method or procedure that can 100% guarantee the success of a social media campaign. The next best thing your organisation can do is to use more of its internal knowledge (i.e. collective intelligence).

Let’s go back on McDonald and Nestle’s case. McDonald could have done better if they test their assumption internally, by conducting a mock internal campaign for example. While Nestle could have done better by testing the replies internally before posting them on their Facebook page. Nestle is so big – some of its staff could be environmentalists and could craft a better response.

So the use of Social Media has to be supported by Social Intranet, because Social Intranet provides a safe haven for testing ideas/assumptions within the organisation. But what is Social Intranet, really? Let’s discuss it in the next blog post.

This blog post is part 2 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

When Social Media Meets Social Intranet Part I

I had fun giving a talk, titled When Social Media Meets Social Intranet, on 22 November 2012, at Max Atria, Expo, Singapore. The talk was part of Fuji Xerox Empowers 2012.

Here is the video:

When Social Media Meets Social Intranet from Roan Yong on Vimeo.

And here is the slides of my talk:

In addition to slides and video, I also provide the script below – so that you can have a preview of the content before you watch the video and can have an accompanying text while going through the slides. Happy reading!

Many organisations failed to make use of social media as a competitive strategy. For example: Goldman Sachs, a leader in banking industry, failed to make their corporate Facebook page thrive. Goldman Sachs’ Facebook page is devoid of any activity just like a ghost-town.

So too, SMRT, a leader in transportation industry in Singapore. SMRT, when they first started their corporate twitter account in 2011, put this statement: “We’re here, 9am – 6pm, Mon – Fri (Excluding public holiday)”. A statement which doesn’t suit the 24/7 nature of social media and reflect badly on SMRT’s capability to effectively use social media.

Organisations have to learn how to effectively use social media because millions of people are in the social media now. And the number keeps on growing day by day. Furthermore, according to research, 50% of web sales is going to occur by 2015 – less than three years from now.

But to effectively use social media, organisations need to also build a supporting infrastructure, i.e. social intranet, so that organisations can transform themselves to be a social business.

So what is a social business?

According to IBM, social business is a business that embraces networks of people to create business value. Networks of people are referring to employees, customers, and partners. This definition obviously makes sense because, employees and partners are actually internal customers! It’s impossible to make your customers happy while neglecting your internal customers at the same time.

To understand how social business deliver value for organisations, let’s look at its two components: Social Media and Social Intranet. Let’s first zoom-in to social media in the next blog post.

This blog post is part 1 of When Social Media Meets Social Intranet. Here are the links to all blog post:

Social Organisation – Definition and Three Advantages

It’s 2012 folks! This year marks the end of era where “average-joe” intranet rules, where SOP is preferred over empowerment and engagement, and where customers keep mum about their dissatisfaction. And this year means screw business-as-usual! Organisations have to transform themselves to be social organisation or face slow-painful-death.

What is Social Organisation (a.k.a. Social Business/Enterprise)?

So what is social organisation anyway? You probably heard of the term and confuse it with social business (social enterprise) - a term made popular by a nobel price winner, Muhammad Yunus. According to Yunus, social business is a cause-driven business ala Tom Shoes (Tom Shoes commits itself to give a free pair of shoes to those in need, for every pair of shoes purchased).

Yunus’ concept on social business is beautiful. The world certainly needs Yunus’ social business model to beat poverty. Too bad, the IT and KM folks use the same term to mean organisations that use social technology, i.e. social media and social intranet, as competitive advantage (for examples, case studies, and definition, please read how IBM consulting describes social business).

For the sake of clarity, in this blog, I will use the term social organisation to refer to businesses empowered by social technology. I will avoid using the term social business/enterprise - unless I want to talk about Yunus’ version of social business (very unlikely as microfinance is not my passion. Social technology is). I suggest you do the same too.

Alas using the term social organisation doesn’t end the confusion. Some experts like two Gartner analysts: Anthony J. Bradley and Mark P. Mcdonald, use the term to refer to organisations empowered by social media application to business. Others like a Forbes contributor: Fred Cavazza, use the term to refer to organisations empowered by both social media and social intranet.

So, which version of social organisation is correct? It depends on what you believe in. I believe corporate (internal) and consumer communications are converging, and thus I think social organisations have to be supported by social media and by social intranet. So I agree with Fred Cavazza’s definition of social organisation.

I also think the main purpose of social technology is to build communities. Combining these thoughts, I get the following definition of social organisation:

Social Organisation is organisation that maximises the use of social media (technology) and social intranet, to improve consumer and employee engagement and to build communities for innovation.

Why Organisations Have to Be Social Organisations?

Three big benefits underpin the need to become social organisations:

First, improved ability to engage employees, esp. the gen-Ys. Gen-Ys are moody bunch. This generation was brought up with a belief that the sky is the limit. They have a high (often unrealistic) sense of entitlement to pursue their dream/passion. The Millennials demand empowerment and bask in entrepreneurship working environment. Social organisation offers them such environment – an environment where they can be engaged and have the freedom to pursue their passion.

Second, improved ability to build communities. Social technologies are great community-building tools. They allow people with similar passion to “gather” and connect beyond the physical limitation, i.e. geographical boundaries and time difference. In other words, social technology is a catalyst for community-building. And we all know that passionate communities are breeding grounds for collective learning and innovation.

Third, ability to build relationship with social customers. Many people use social media like Facebook, Twitter, not only to improve the way they interact and live, but also to give recommendations and voice-out displeasure. Organisations would be wise to maintain presence in social media, to engage the social customers, to capture their testimonials, and to address their concern real-time.

Any thoughts? Write them down in the comment box below.

Recommended Readings:

Bradley, A., J., and McDonald, M., P. (2011). The Social Organisation – Chapter 1: The Promise of Social Organisations. Harvard Business Press.

Cavazza, F. (2012). The What and How of Social Business. Forbes.

N.A. (n.d.). Social Business. IBM.

Neisser, D. (2011). Move Over Social Media; Here Comes Social Business. Fast Company.

KM Is About People. Really? So What?

Most people understand that “KM is about people”. You don’t have to repeat this over and over again. What you need to do is to explain the meaning of people-based KM. I think the manifestation of “KM is about people” is three-fold: facilitating conversation, cultivating communities, and designing social intranet and user adoption strategy.

I came across this situation many times. KMers rants-and-raves about KM is being hijacked by technologist, and enthusiatically sends a message that sounds like a gospel: “KM is about people”. Wow, what an insight (sarcasm intended). I’m totally not impressed. Here is why.

First of all, everything is about people. Could you name one thing that isn’t about people? Last time I checked, every organisation’s function is about people! From Finance to HR, and from operations to technology, people is the center of every function. This is common sense. It’s not something that we (KMers) should stress mutiple times. Most people get it! They are not dumb. They understand that people is important for organisation.

Second, when you say “KM is about people”, what do you mean? What is the “call to action” that you want to convey? Check out what the KM experts are advocating, and you would find different meaning to “KM is about people”, for e.g. Dave Snowden advocates complexity and decision making; David Gurteen stresses the importance of conversation; David Griffiths talks about talent/human capital management. This is where the problem lies. There are mixed messages beneath the simple truth: “KM is About People”.

Don’t get me wrong. I think KM is about people. Alas, I also think that we fell in love with this message so much so, that we forgot to clarify the “call to action” beneath it. We think people don’t understand what we are saying, when actually they aren’t sure about what we mean. Words are slippery! Same words can carry different meaning to different people.

To succeed, we need to do a better job in translating what do we mean by “KM is about people”. Allow me to share my thought. The call to action should be three-fold:

1. Facilitate Conversations. We need to facilitate conversation – especially the difficult one – so that people can share and capture their knowledge. This means KMers have to be quality conversation facilitators. We have to tell people that they can look for us when they need help in capturing knowledge or in facilitating AAR/Retrospect. We should also organise and moderate Townhall meeting where the top management can have a dialogue with the people.

2. Cultivate Communities. Communities (or Tribes) are natural occurring in any organisation. However without proper intervention, the right communities may not have the resources to produce strategic results. They may not even survive. We need to cultivate communities, that are strategic for the organisation, through a combination of top down and bottom up approach.

  • Top down approach means we work with the top management to identify strategic areas and key people, so that strategic communities can be formed immediately and be visible to the management.
  • while bottom up means we also open to the possibility of people forming communities and producing important knowledge work. Our job is to highlight the deserving communities to the management so that they can get the resources that they need.

3. Design Social Intranet and User Adoption Strategy. KM technology has to be human-centric (this is one of the manifestations of “KM is about people”). That means, we need to have social intranet because it uses social technology. Social technology is a human-centric technology, because it connects people and allows them to promote relevant contents. We also need to have user adoption strategy, i.e. making sure that people use the social technology.

There you go! I have explained my thought about people-based KM. What do you think? What’s your version of people-based KM?

Why Smart Organisations Use Social Intranet

To win in today’s business competition, you need a social intranet. I’m dead serious. The future belongs to organisations who can use the power of social intranet for employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, and innovation.

Yep, practically all the things that the management wants. So what is this social intranet?  Social intranet is an intranet with social technology tools like social networking, blog, discussion forum, comment box, wikis, etc.

If this sounds like social media stuff, it is! Social intranet is about using social media within the organisation. There is a subtle difference between social technology and social media. Social media is usually referring to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or any other web 2.0 tools in the internet. Social technology, on the other hand, is a more generic terms that cover the whole array of web 2.0 tools in internet and in intranet.

Smart organisations are investing in social intranet rather than simply allowing the use of social media in the organisation (I know it is difficult to stop people from using social media at work, thanks to the ubiquitous iphone and other smart-phone devices).

Here is why. Employees can make use of their free time to share ideas and to connect with their colleagues in social intranet – rather than in social-media sites. The big idea is, to contain the sharing of ideas and social networking within the organisation.

Why not use social media? Social media isn’t ideal because people can “inadvertently” share sensitive information to the public. And it is impossible to link employees’ social activities in social media to the benefit of the organisation.

I know what you are thinking. You are probably going to criticise me for not embracing the concept of Open Innovation, i.e. collectively innovate through idea-sharing with the public, competitors, amateurs, etc. I gotta tell you this: I’m an advocate and ardent believer of open innovation. Yes, I’m.

But, I’m also a very practical person. I don’t think organisations can entirely open-up their business processes, or can crowdsource strategic decision-making to outsiders. Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing can be used in situations where the organisation is exploring something new that it has no expertise in.

Okay, enough of open innovation and crowdsourcing. Let’s get back to our discussion on using social intranet in organisations.

With social intranet, you can:

  • Increase employee engagement. Work is no longer boring, when part of your work is to pursue your professional interest/passion, and to build your personal brand within the corporate intranet. Plus, you get the chance to connect with cool people in the organisation (people who have similar interests with you).
  • Increase productivity. Looking for corporate information or contents owned by your colleagues? Well, it’s going to take awhile if you are using traditional intranet. But with social intranet? Seriously, you can get it within a blink. That’s because in social intranet, contents are tagged using corporate taxonomy and your own tags (social tagging or folksonomy) – which means you can retrieve contents faster by refining your search according to those tags. And if you have a very good social intranet like Sharepoint 2010 (Too bad microsoft don’t pay me for endorsing their hot-selling product), you can search contents based on social distance, i.e. your “friends’ contents” get prioritised in the search engine. So, you can jump straight to contents authored by people whom you trust.
  • Improve social collaboration. It’s hard to collaborate using email, because you are often get confused on which version is the latest and on whether the document has been vetted by the bosses. In social intranet, you can use collaboration space as one-stop centre for collaboration. You and your co-workers can add, edit, amend, or delete contents at easy because every changes made is recorded. You know which version is latest in collaboration space. Plus, you can create a workflow to route documents for approval.
  • Increase innovation. In social intranet, cultivating communities of practice (CoP) is easy. Employees have more opportunities to find like-minded colleagues and to start building a community around a shared-passion. When employees have supportive-environment (the CoP) and the means to experiment with their ideas, there will be more innovations in the organisations.

Does your organisation use social intranet? Tell me whether it has made an impact to your work or how it has benefited the organisation.

Further Readings:

  1. Hinchcliffe, D. (2010). Social intranets: Enterprises grapple with internal change. ZDNet.
  2. Ward, T. (2010). The Rise of Intranet 2.0: The Social Intranet. CMSWire.
  3. Berg, O. (2010). The business case for social intranets.
  4. Lupfer, E. (2010). Creating a Social Intranet where Employees can Learn, Plan and Do

Migrating Contents from the Shared Drives to Collaboration Spaces

In my previous post, I described how to migrate contents from the old intranet to the new one. In this post, I would like to talk about a related topic: how to migrate contents from the shared drives to the collaboration spaces.

Which content migration is more important? both are equally important, but if you have to prioritise, migrate the contents from old intranet first, before you migrate the ones from shared drives. The reason is because you can still use the shared drives concurrently with the new intranet, but you can no longer use the old intranet when the new one is ready. Nevertheless, it’s best to get rid of the shared drives sooner rather than later.

Prioritise contents migration from the old intranet to the new one first, and then plan for the content migration from shared drives to the collaboration spaces.

In the age of social intranet, collaboration spaces will make shared drives obsolete. But before you can dispose the shared drives, you will have to liaise with the content owner to migrate the contents to the collaboration spaces. This will be difficult, because the contents in the shared drives are not tagged with metadata, while contents in collaboration spaces most likely need to be tagged with metadata.

Alas, you can’t leave the metadata fields empty, and just upload the documents from the shared drives to the collaboration spaces. You ought to protect the integrity of taxonomy and metadata governance.

You also can’t ask people to fill up the metadata after the documents have been stored in the collaboration spaces, because the pressure to conform to the governance will go off once people see the contents in the collaboration spaces without the relevant metadata. And it will be harder to advocate the use of metadata then.

So, what options do you have? Is it possible to automate the metadata tagging? Tough luck, there is no easy way to automate it, because each content has to be described uniquely. You could (and should) automate the metadata fields as many as possible. Metadata like author’s name, date published, title, can be auto-filled by leveraging on your favorite office application’s metadata. But there are other metadata fields like business activity or project name that can’t be easily auto-filled.

The bottom line is this: you still need to get your colleagues to manually fill-up some of the metadata fields. Contents migration from shared drives to the collaboration spaces, is essentially a change management initiative. And so, you need to have some strategy to manage the change, because you can’t simply expect people to appreciate the need for metadata tagging and they would DIY. More likely than not, people will prefer not to fill-up any metadata. The brutal fact is they dislike metadata (who does?).

I’d like to propose the following change strategy:

  1. Appeal rationally. Paint a scenario on how metadata can help them search and retrieve contents better and faster. Tell them specifically how many metadata they have to fill-up and how easy it can be (you have to ensure the process of filling up metadata is painless).
  2. Appeal emotionally. Get stories from people who believe in the importance of metadata. Find out why these people are tagging their documents. And publicise their stories. In addition, provide training and help desk so that your users are rest-assured that help is around the corner (make them feel safe to change their working habits).
  3. Shape the path. There are three ways to share the path: (i) Automate the majority of the metadata fields and make it obvious to them that they only need to fill up several more fields; (ii) Make filling-up shared drives contents’ metadata a habit, by creating a fixed schedule – for the whole organisation – to fill up metadata; (iii) Show (weekly) which departments are the top three metadata champions and which ones are the bottom three. Give rewards like free lunch with CEO for the top three departments.

Have you ever migrated contents from shared drives to collaboration spaces? What’s your take on my proposal above?

Content Migration Plan: Why it is important and How to do it

Occasionally KMers need to move those voluminous contents from the old intranet to a new one. There could be many reasons to build a new intranet, the most common one  is technology advancement. The current model of web 2.0 (social web) is all the rage now in the internet, partly because it invites people into conversation online. The corporate intranet has to move with time, and reflect this trend. In fact, there is a new term for the web 2.0-like intranet: the social intranet (I’m not kidding, you can google the term, and you will find thousands of articles talking about the social intranet).

It certainly feels like you have won a life time achievement, when you’ve managed to persuade your management to invest in the social intranet (yes, I acknowledge that selling new idea to the management is a hard work. I’ve been there, trust me). But, there is no time to sit on your laurels. There is an even bigger task to do. No! I’m not talking about setting up the Content Management System (CMS) in the organisation’s IT infrastructure. And I’m not referring to user adoption strategy (another major task to do). I’m talking about coming up with detailed content migration plan – a task that you need to do as soon as you got the “go-ahead” from the management.

A content migration plan is an content evaluation exercise where you examine the current contents in the intranet, and determine whether you want to migrate the content, re-write it, or archive it.  This will ensure you migrate good contents (valuable contents, not the ones that ROT – redundant, outdated, or trivial) only. By ensuring only quality contents get migrated, you will make user adoption easier (the next major task to do after developing a content migration plan).

The main reason you need a content a migration plan is because you don’t want junk contents in your new intranet. Storing junk contents in the new intranet is like putting lipstick on a pig (borrowing Sarah Palin’s rather infamous quote). Users will be disappointed to find the same old contents in the new intranet. Most users want quality contents first, better layout/navigation design second, and cutting-edge technology last (only IT geeks – a fragment of the workforce – care about the technology behind the intranet).

So, how do you develop a content migration plan? At this point of time, you may be tempted to automate this task due to the sheer amount of boring laborious work. Well, lo and behold, usually the devil (that’s your IT vendor) appears and offers an automated migration tool that can “magically” migrate contents from the old intranet to the new one within a click of a button. Here is my advise: don’t! Don’t take up the offer because automated migration tool is a “garbage in garbage out” tool – which means the tool assumes the structure of the new intranet is the same as the old one (this is an unlikely scenario).

Alas, you will have to develop the plan manually using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. There is no better alternative. The following screen-shot is my recommended template for content migration plan:

The columns in the old intranet section mirrors those in the new intranet section. The intention is to account for each content in the old intranet, and map it to the new intranet. There is “status” column (the one that states whether the content is good, redundant, outdated, or trivial) in the new intranet section, because you would want to migrate good contents only.

For the Page ID column, you can assign arbitrary number (as long as it makes sense. That is, put related contents in logical order). The purpose of this column is to provide quick reference.

The rest of the columns are self-explanatory. But, the intranet team would need to work with the content owner to fill-up the remarks column, i.e. to indicate whether contents need to be rewritten, deleted, or created.

Further Readings: