The Intranet is not a single system

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This post is not about stating anything new…but merely sharing some thoughts…

In my new role I am also responsible for the councils Intranet, which is currently not fit for purpose as the core technology for content, much like our public website is using an outdated technology, it doesn’t support dynamic content and is generally poorly managed.

No one  is to blame for that, we are where we are…but it is clear that we need to change the way we operate around the intranet in order to provide more efficient internal communications and better access to internal services and business processes.

One area which is often hard for people to get to grips with is that the Intranet is not a single system…you may have a content management system which presents your content and manages the intranet homepage, but this is only part of your intranet’s ecosystem…So when people refer to the intranet being rubbish or poor, they are generally referring to the top level content and the look and feel of templates…which fortunately is something we can do something about…But the whole ecosystem needs to fit together in order for an intranet to be useful and usable.

I’ve written before on Intranet’s here, here and here and this is an opportunity to get a broader view on the way forward and have a conversation about the core business purpose and not about the underlying technology, which is where my focus in the past has been.

A few weeks back I put together a single side of A4 on the core purpose and some strategic assumptions in order to frame and inform the future direction and creation of an Intranet Strategy, It was kind of quick and dirty but did the job as we now have a collective acceptance to the current picture…which certainly helps when agreeing a future direction.

This is what I wrote:

Core Purpose

The Intranet should aim to be the number one business support tool for all staff across the council.

The ultimate purpose for our intranet (the source) is to contribute to the Council’s strategic objectives by establishing an internal communications network which is able to provide an efficient, internal service-delivery mechanism accessible from anywhere and at any time.

Typical intranet objectives would be:

  1. enabling high levels of employee involvement (2 way dialogue) and productivity.
  2. support collaboration, information sharing and connecting with colleagues (staff directory).
  3. facilitating business efficiency (employee self service tools).
  4. to become a key repository (the source) for information to assist people in their roles.

Strategic Assumptions

  • The current Intranet platform is no longer fit for purpose.
  • The Intranet is part of the councils wider web presence which also includes the public website and extranet capabilities and should be seen in this context when considering and planning technology solutions.
  • The intranet is not a single system, it is an ecosystem of platforms, tools and applications which contribute to the core purpose above. Note: we will need to understand the relationship between the new desktop, extranet and a new redefined intranet.
  • The intranet should be available to all staff regardless of location.
  • The intranet should make it possible for all staff to contribute to the knowledge repository through formal and informal routes.
  • The information structure should focus on the user perspective and not on the organisation structure. As an example, Figure 1 shows a context diagram for intranet services from an end-users perspective.

 

 

And if you really wanted to transform local government? – Honestlyreal

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An excellent post via Paul Clarke at Honestlyreal about how local government could be transformed based on going back to basics. I think that Paul has made an excellent point and it it well worth reading if you are interested in local government transformation..

My assumption is that people in local government do remain very focused on services and that is partly down to targets and indicators, but there is something empowering and innovative about asking ourselves why do we exist? That is the fundamental question that the public would want to understand and i think this quote from Paul’s post really sums up where we should be…

“we’re not here just to run the services; we, with you, are here to serve this community as best we possibly can”

I wonder how we would approach strategies, business planning and performance management if we took the focus away from services and on to the community itself. Paul writes…

Imagine instead that the services are the secondary consideration. And that the primary function becomes “to serve the needs of the local community”. Suddenly we’ve opened up a wealth of new possibilities. Yes, this can mean alternative delivery models, through partnerships and so on, which is hardly radical thinking. But we’re getting away from just focusing on services here, remember?

Local Government has a duty around community leadership and this would essentially drive that from the perspective of the community. Do the public really think about local government services, my personal view is NO, but what people do focus on is place and location. If we changed our focus to the same level of understanding as the public and we worked with them and even empowered them to develop their own relationships and partnerships to solve local problems that would do more for local empowerment then a single service transforming the way it delivers.

What is most interesting about this post is that it moves toward a transformational agenda which is about “changing focus” and “understanding purpose” instead of  investing in systems and or solutions. Once we understand what our new role is and what that future looks like we can develop programmes to get us there.

For me this is such an important thing to consider as my role is about Enterprise Architecture and that is basically about understanding the future, modelling it and guiding the organisation toward that desired change. But we also have a role to challenge the future state based on what is best for the organisation and based on it’s core purpose.