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How does your People Finder score?

Digital workplace at the beach

How does your People Finder score?

As we’re entering summer holiday time, we though we’d aim for something a little lighter this month and give you a quiz: How good is your people finder?
Below are a series of questions. When awarding yourself points, remind yourself that it is not just about the features, but how they are used. An empty Office 365 installation will tick some of the boxes, but it has no value until people use it in practice, so to be fair each statement should be at least 80% true (e.g. you include at least 80% of your contractors in your directory to get the 2 bonus points).

  1. 1 point if all your employees are searchable from one search box
    And I mean all employees, not just those with email accounts.

    • 1 bonus point if basic contact details appear in type-ahead

      After you type the first few letters, search should show possible names with phone number, email etc.
    • 2 bonus points if contractors are included too
    • 2 bonus points if you include supplier contacts
      Supplier contacts would be the name of the account manager for your outsourced travel service, for example.
  2. 2 Points if you have a mobile-optimised search option
    For example, an app or a responsive design. Anything requiring a VPN token or desktop-style login doesn’t count.
  3. 1 Point if all employee data comes from a master source
    For example, the HR System might be the authority record, with Active Directory and SAP both interfacing with it.

    • 2 bonus points if you have use a regular process to check accuracy
      This means that employees who have left are routinely deleted, for example.
  4. 1 point if you can refine search by department or location
    For example “Show me people called Terry in HR in Latvia”
  5. 1 point if search automatically covers spelling variations
    For example Sara/Sarah
  6. 1 point if you can add a preferred or alternate name
    For example, a shortened name, a nickname, or maiden name.
  7. 1 Point if most people have photos
  8. 1 point if you include line manager information
    The person’s direct boss

    • 2 bonus points for a dynamic org chart
      You should be able to see a visualisation of who they report to and who the person’s peers are.
    • 1 bonus point if you can print an org chart
      You should be able to define how many departments or layers are included
    • 2 bonus points for other team relationships
      For example, ‘dotted line’ reporting or projects they are part of.
  9. 2 points if you include skills and expertise
    • 1 bonus point if there are both managed and unmanaged metadata options
      Ideally, there will be a taxonomy of standard skills to pick from and a free text or folksonomy tagging option too.
  10. 1 point if you have presence
    For example, a green light when somebody is online

    • 2 bonus points if you have physical presence
      Can you see where somebody is actually working that day, such as a GPS fix on a map?
  11. 1 point if you can see someone’s recent activity in their profile
    Activity examples include comments, likes and documents uploaded.

How did you score? I’d love it if people were willing to share their scores in the comments below. For reference, the maximum possible score is 28. When I’ve run an earlier version of this in workshops and conferences, most companies score around 10-14 and the highest I’ve had so far is 22.

Of course, there’s a serious side to this topic too. Recently I wrote about how to encourage employees to fill in their directory profile. Beyond these tactics of persuasion, what really matters is the fundamental utility of the people finder service. The more ways in which people encounter it during their work, the more likely they are to see it as worthy of their time to contribute to.

By all means use this quiz as a checklist, but bear in mind that the questions are sample tests of sometimes much bigger issues. There are many nuances to the challenge of simply searching for a name without knowing the exact spelling, for example. Question 5 is a point test of this but Martin White expands on many aspects in Enterprise Search: Searching for Names & Brains.

People finders matter because they underpin many other elements of a social-collaborative enterprise strategy. A rich profile gives you context to interpret comments on intranet news stories; it helps you evaluate the expertise of somebody responding to a question on an enterprise social network (and to find experts directly); and it helps form communities by communicating common interests.

People finders also matter because the person you desperately need might be on vacation right now. You’ll be glad to know who else you can turn to.

Sam Marshall

I'm the director of ClearBox Consulting, advising on intranet and digital workplace strategy, SharePoint and online collaboration. I've specialised in intranets and knowledge Management for over 19 years, working with organisations such as Unilever, Astra Zeneca, Akzo Nobel, Sony, Rio Tinto and Diageo. I was responsible for Unilever’s Global Portal Implementation, overseeing the roll-out of over 700 online communities to 90,000 people and consolidating several thousand intranets into a single system.

  • Karen Monies
    Posted at 10:33 am, 22 August, 2016

    Nice list of features for inspiration! – I think we get 13 points for our current People Finder which is quite good I think.

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