Wednesday, 17 September 2008

If you're not managing intranet content quality, what are you doing?

Patrick Walsh describes his idea for intranet content value analysis:

"it should be possible to benchmark sites and parts of sites against each other by using the same heuristics and, if done periodically, to chart improvement trends in the value a site offers its users.

Hopefully this approach will provide intranet managers with a tool that allows them to assess content in a structured way, produce a number that will accurately reflect the state of the content within the site evaluated and then to repeat the process over time to ensure that the intranet is going in the right direction - towards the lean intranet. Results can then be presented graphically as bar charts or graphs - a form of information that most senior managers are comfortable with and understand."

Its a good idea but what interests me more is that Walsh presents the concept as if this isn't something intranet teams aren't already doing. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that they probably aren't doing this.

In fact, I've come across situations before where intranet governance has been treated as something that extends to everything except content quality - in one situation a portal team was complaining about feedback on poor search results, yet they were adamant that the search engine was working just fine. I suggested that perhaps it wasn't the technology, but maybe they just had poor content (an assumption backed up by my own investigation). Unfortunately, content quality wasn't something they managed.

An alternative or complementary approach is to not only benchmark but to set explicit content quality standards. These need to measurable and backed up by a measurement and reporting process.

In one instance I completed a survey of  intranet content and connected it back to other user data we had collected to not only provide a measure of content quality, but to actually link through to the value delivered. Through this process we were able to improve quality and reduce the effort of maintaining information that people weren't actually that interested in using. This also sounds very much like Walsh's lean intranet idea - I've also talked about lean information management recently.

Perhaps intranet teams are focusing a little too much on navigational usability and information architecture, and not enough on what actually delivers value to users and eliminating barriers to use?

Hat tip to James Robertson.

1 comment:

  1. James,
    You make an excellent point. I'm not pretending that content value analysis is totally a new idea - in fact its what I've done in a way in automotive quality for the last 25 years or so.
    Surveying content in web sites is also not new but what I would like to introduce is some rigour to the methodology. If statistical sampling is used and combined with audit techniques it should hopefully produce results that are evidence based and impeachable.
    Still got to fugure out some details though so there will probably be a part 2 to the post.

    All the best



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