How to succeed at intranet governance

The top reason intranets fail isn’t technical or functional. According to Gartner research, it’s poor governance that is most likely to prevent your platform from achieving full efficacy. With your intranet poised to play a crucial role in the new world of work, what does it take to create a governance approach that will set you up for success? We spoke to Mario Fantozzi, Principle Onboarding consultant at Unily to find out.

Team leader managing her company intranet software

Intranet governance 101

Creating a vision for your digital workplace strategy is a step in the right direction, but what can you do to ensure everything goes as planned? Governance might sound like a dry or overwhelming topic, but it’s really just about creating a shared understanding of the rules, norms, processes, and measures that must exist to keep your intranet software running effectively.

What is intranet governance?

Governance extends to many elements of your intranet management. Types of intranet governance include:

  • Operating: Creating the appropriate standard operating procedures that provide explicit directions for completing a certain task, like managing a new site
  • Publishing: Developing rules and policies to ensure content is easy to find, relevant, and updated. Publishing governance also prevents your intranet from getting clogged with too much information
  • Training: Establishing learning and development processes to ensure users feel comfortable navigating your intranet and using it to perform daily tasks
  • Support: Pinpointing how technical incidents will be managed, resolved, and reported

Why intranet governance matters

We’ve reached a fork in the road when it comes to intranet evolution. As Gartner notes, traditional corporate intranets are dead, while modern platforms are thriving. Rather than stagnant products, the newest generation of intranets are living, breathing, and continuously adapting to meet an enterprise’s evolving use cases.

If you want to make sure your platform falls into this modern category, governance is a key part of the equation. Proper intranet management ensures that your platform will remain relevant well after launch. On the other hand, without governance, your intranet will not deliver the features that are demanded by employees, content will become outdated, and your users will inevitably disengage.

In the hybrid era, the demands on your intranet are greater than ever. As employees work more flexibly, the need for virtual communication and collaboration has come to the forefront. Consequently, the stakes for intranet governance are only going to continue to rise as your people increasingly look to your platform to serve as their new digital headquarters.

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5 best-practices for succeeding at intranet governance

While the need for proper governance is evident, what does a winning approach actually look like? Although there isn’t a universal model that will work for every enterprise, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your approach proves successful. Best practices include:

#1. Identify the correct stakeholders

One of the first steps is also arguably the most important: building a team. Generally, your governance team will be comprised of key stakeholders from across your organization, including representatives from IT, HR, Communications, Legal, and Finance. Strive to include stakeholders from every department so that each team has a representative who can voice role-specific needs and insights.

While it might be tempting to include everybody, a massive governance team will be too large to function well. Instead, aim for a diverse array of voices with visibility across the unit they represent and an in-depth understanding of how other parts of your organization work.

#2. Secure an executive sponsor

In addition to building out a team, you’re going to need an executive sponsor who understands the value of your intranet and supports your vision. Given that your intranet is meant to be utilized by your entire organization, aim for a senior executive like a CFO, CMO, or even CEO.

There’s a lot of flexibility around who fills the role of executive sponsor, but it may be best to avoid selecting your CIO. Since your intranet is a tool for your entire business, choosing your CIO might send the message that it’s mostly meant for IT. Regardless of their title, the most important consideration when selecting your executive sponsor is choosing someone with visibility who will show support and involvement in your governance activities and provide extra motivation when needed.

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#3. Outline your processes

There’s a lot that goes into keeping your intranet up and running. Once you have a team in place, you’ll also need documentation that can serve as everyone’s single source of truth, providing stakeholders with a shared understanding of your intranet management processes.

Membership rules, voting rights, funding, and intranet design should all be clearly outlined so your team has a set of guiding principles that they can refer back to. To ensure this document is manageable and regularly utilized, aim for no more than two or three pages to avoid overdoing it.

#4. Choose a content management model that works for you

Just like every workplace has a unique culture, the way your intranet’s content management is structured is going to vary from enterprise to enterprise. Part of launching a successful governance approach is weighing the pros and cons of various models and understanding which will serve your organization best.

The three most popular content management models include: 

  • Centralized: In this model, content creators seek approval from a central team before content is published on the intranet. This lessens the training requirement for users, but also tends to lead to slower production cycles
  • Decentralized: In contrast, decentralized models give content administrators complete freedom to create, edit, and publish content. While this speeds up production cycles, it also creates a need for regular auditing and heavy training
  • Hybrid: A central team acts as a gatekeeper for some content, while other content can be freely created and published by content administrators from across the organization. Hybrid models ensure that unwanted content doesn’t get posted and help teams understand the content well, although it may cause production cycles to slow
Intranet documents

#5. Keep content fresh

The last thing you want is for your intranet to become a dumping ground for outdated content. But what can you do to make sure your platform feels relevant, even years after your launch date?

Freshness dating prevents content from becoming stale by determining if a specific piece of content is still usable. A freshness date is a metadata attribute that identifies when content needs to be reviewed by its owner. Stakeholders can then confirm that the content is valid and add a new refresh date, update the piece to make it more accurate, or archive it.

Making freshness dating guidelines part of your governance approach prevents content from building up over time, ensuring that your intranet remains accurate, updated, and easy for your users to navigate.

Here at Unily, our content lifecycle feature automates content governance to simplify the process of maintaining a single-source-of-truth hub.

Develop a governance strategy that will take your intranet to the next level

Are you looking to transform your traditional corporate intranet into a modern platform that will help your people thrive? To learn more about what it takes to launch a next-generation intranet with an impactful governance strategy, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

Get started. Get your free demo.

Reinvent your intranet for the employee experience era.

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