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There is a view in some organizations that an intranet is only for staff, so you can publish what you want. But quality content matters as much on an intranet as on a public Web site.

Get your content right to begin with. Keep it right by removing out-of-date content.

Your intranet is not a dump. It is not about the volume. It's not “have gigabytes, must fill.”

View your content as an asset, not a cost. It's not a document management challenge, so don't see the problem from a storage point of view. It's publishing. It's about finding that small set of content that drives productive actions from staff and management.

Do you have a process whereby every single piece of content on your intranet gets read at least once a year?

Those organizations that can't do this are admitting that their intranet is unmanageable. Tetra Pak, a global leader in packaging systems, is not one of them.

Mats G. Johansson is responsible for Web content management in the Tetra Pak technical service area. The readership is approximately 4,500 people. In 2002, Tetra Pak decided to get serious about content.

First off, a style guide was created, covering such things as style and tone, length of summaries, a description of how the content should be laid out, treatment of pictures, etc. (A style guide is an essential first step in achieving consistent content quality.)

Next, the 70 administrators (editors) were trained in professional publishing techniques. Quality, up-to-date content was stressed. A typical question that was posed was, “Would you hand out your business card with the wrong telephone number? Then, why is the number not correct on your Web page?”

Professional publishing processes take time to develop. Many staffs are simply not used to publishing quality content on a regular basis. They need training and ongoing support. And that's exactly what they got from Mats and his team.

Crucially, the Tetra Pak intranet is measured on an ongoing basis.

“We now review all pages on a three-month basis,” Mats states. “It requires less and less effort to correct things as the administrators learn how to maintain their content and they know that they will be reviewed regularly.”

There is an important point here. In the past, I've heard it said that it is neither right nor possible to control content on the intranet. That argument might have made some sense during the pioneering phase of Web development. Pioneers are full of enthusiasm, love to take risks and hate being measured or trained.

A very different breed of person is involved in the intranet today. This person just wants to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Tetra Pak found that its staff was glad that a systematic approach was being taken. There are now ongoing requests for more training. People are eager to learn how to get better at publishing.

Of course, the biggest fans of a well-run intranet are the staff members who read it. Not surprisingly, Tetra Pak is getting very good feedback from its staff, who are delighted that the content is up-to-date and correct.

Your content is a valuable asset. Manage this asset by publishing only quality content and removing out-of-date content. To do this, you need to train, motivate, reward and measure your publishing team.

Next week: learn what the real killer app on the intranet is.

Continue reading "The Intranet Gets Serious: Publish What You Can Manage (Part 3)" ... Read the full article

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.