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How intranet governance evolves

How intranet governance evolves

Research shows a trend towards hybrid and decentralised governance / publishing models as organisations get larger, a correlation between who ‘owns’ the intranet and its primary purpose, and a strong need for a dedicated intranet manager.

Obianuju Eke (aka, Uju) of Warwick Business School, interviewed intranet managers from eight organisations, and a further 73 organisations took the survey.

As ClearBox helped to facilitate the research, we’re able to present the results to you now.

Intranet governance models 2014

There’s a trend towards hybrid governance as organisations get larger. N.B. the sample size for 50,000+ sized organisations was very small.

The research characterises three types of governance:

Generally a single intranet ‘owner’ / publisher, with strict guidelines and processes for contributing authors (if any). Most work is done within a central team. This model emphasises consistency and integration.
Each business unit manages its own intranet activity, with little or no centralised resource. This model engenders speed and flexibility, but can be more costly.
A federated / collaborative model – each business area has its own intranet co-ordinator but they share a common infrastructure. There may be a team for ‘corporate’ content but they are not the overall intranet owners. Typically, internal communicators are responsible for day-to-day use, and IT responsible for infrastructure. The hybrid model aims for the cost benefits of common standards but flexible business usage.

Governance [PDF; 370KB] relates to how things get done and how things get decided; it’s about executing the business strategy and the intranet strategy across the organisation. But ownership and budget themes come up as well. Many intranet managers see the value of an independent intranet team with dedicated budget. This was partially about perception and partially about actual control within centralised and federated models.

“As companies get larger, what tends to happen is that the core team stays fairly small (typically below 5 people according to the survey data), but their role becomes more about strategy and standards, with execution federated to a community of site and content owners.” – Sam Marshall

The report illustrates the data with two examples:
1) A large government organisation used for internal communication, HR services and to access other legacy systems. The intranet team adopts a centralised governance model with 151 content managers and over 2500 content publishers who aren’t part of the intranet team.

2) On the other hand, a large telecoms company of over 50,000 employees uses the hybrid governance model. It has a relatively advanced intranet but only 2 intranet team members and no dedicated content managers. Here employees and content contributors are accountable and responsible for their content. The intranet team acts primarily as a business customer for the intranet gathering all requirements from the business ensuring they are clearly articulated.

What this means for the role of intranet manager

The role of ‘intranet manager’ isn’t dying out, even in the hybrid model. One thing the study highlights is that intranets without at least one person that feels the intranet is their responsibility tend to stagnate. Although they keep running day-to-day, they do not evolve over time.

“At least one dedicated person is required in most organisations. This is necessary for continuous and incremental advancement of the intranet with the organisational needs and strategy, and to prevent need for a big redesign project when the intranet becomes barely useful.” ~ Obianuju (Uju) Eke, Warwick Business School

The core team (often the intranet manager and one other) should have a strategic understanding of business needs and a clear roadmap – and the budget, authority, and governance model to support intranet development. But it is the broader team that is crucial to the tactical execution.

Wondering about the right direction for your intranet? Our intranet consulting can help, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

Download the full report now

Uju’s report offers key points for organisations considering their intranet resourcing, evolution, and governance model.

Instant download, exclusively from ClearBox.

Wedge Black

I support ClearBox in everything we do online, and I assist clients that are considering redeveloping or replacing their intranet platform. I worked in global and regional organisations as the intranet manager as part of the comms team, before becoming an intranet consultant. I'm the founder of the Intranet Now annual conference. I’ve tweeted about intranets and comms for fifteen years now.


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