The first item on our digital workplace checklist was to make your information more useful. To truly be useful, information also has to be easy to find. One way to ensure that your organization’s information is easy for your employees to find is by adopting a “one-stop shop” approach to information delivery. This doesn’t mean that all of your information is in one place. Rather, that you unify your information management approach and eliminate silos.
A one-stop shop approach gathers enterprise content managed against an easy to understand lifecycle within a searchable system, and then presents that information in ways that are geared to the needs of each end user.
This approach maximizes the availability of relevant, up-to-date information when and where it’s needed. Many large enterprises are finding increasing value in having a consistent platform and information management approach for content on their intranet, collaboration sites, knowledge sharing, enterprise content and records management systems. Microsoft’s SharePoint and Office 365 SharePoint Online offer a compelling platform to achieve this, given the right information architecture and governance and records management solutions to extend the native capabilities.
A single source of truth
On a grand scale, you can think of it as establishing a source of truth for your organization. In this scenario, employees have a single place to go where they can readily access content that is most pertinent to their individual jobs in the organization, and when they need information related to another role, they can easily search for and find it. In every instance, they’re assured that they have most current version of the information available.
It is critical that you move teams away from heavy use of the traditional file system model or simplistic file sync and share software. As an organization and its volume of information grows, these systems begin to break down. Departments typically develop their own hierarchies of folders based on what makes sense to their users. Invariably, documents that are important to multiple departments get copied to each department’s folder location. When a file needs updating, the task of ensuring that every copy of that file is updated becomes a nightmare, and thus may not get done. Employees can no longer be confident that they have access to the most up-to-date version of content.
Information governance is essential to sustaining a one-stop shop
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: information governance is essential to consistent tagging and findability of content. Consistently implemented governance rules that enforce your enterprise’s information lifecycle model and retention policies ensure that obsolete content is disposed of appropriately and eliminates the issue of an employee having to figure out which version of a document they should be using.
In addition, rather than relying on folders to categorize content as in shared drives, our one-stop shop makes use of metadata, which associates useful categories and attributes with the content through the use of tags such as file type, creation date, relevant user types, and associated projects. By tagging content in this way, we can derive role-based views of a collection of content (e.g., lists that display content that is of importance to a specific role), and circumvent the need for distribution of individual copies. Metadata can also drive automated actions based on governance rules, for example, triggering disposition (archiving, deletion, etc.) of a document in keeping with its associated retention policy. These rules can be triggered based on the document’s lifecycle state, its content type, or by a specific event. What’s more, automation can help you make sure that metadata is correctly and consistently added to content as it is generated. Examples include offering users drag-and-drop capabilities for uploading content and automatically assigning metadata values based on rules that you have pre-defined for that type of file.
In the end, your success hinges on the user experience
Finally, a one-stop shop for content and an effective and efficient means for governing that content are critical underlying elements, but achieving the benefits of a one-stop shop for information ultimately depends on how your users engage with it.
In their research report, Intranet Portals are the Hub of the Enterprise Universe, user experience research and consulting firm Neilsen Norman Group notes, “As organizations inch toward a digital workplace, intranet portals are beginning to serve as the hub of the corporate wheel, providing spokes of information and applications that serve diverse and increasingly dispersed workforces.” A portal can be an ideal way to present the information your employees are most likely to use and give them an easy means to find additional information that they need irregularly. In order to provide a “diverse and dispersed” set of employees with the information most relevant to them, the portal is likely to have multiple levels – displaying content that applies enterprise-wide, and different content that is specific to a department, a corporate function, and/or other organizational groupings.
So what does the user see?
What an individual employee’s one-stop shop will look like depends on their primary role. Their entry point could be the company Intranet or a portal at the departmental, functional, or project level. No matter their entry point, it should give them one-click access to enterprise-level information, as well as the ability to personalize their view to include other associations, e.g., their location or department.
In addition to linking users with the information they need most, a well-designed portal with a consistent user
experience across all hierarchical levels and groups within your organization will promote corporate identity, reinforce corporate culture and values, and heighten awareness to company-wide issues.
Realizing a one-stop shop for information requires thoughtful planning and design… and the right technology. The platform that you select needs to be able to bring together of all of your corporate information and give you the flexibility and capabilities to develop the governance and user experience required to successfully implement your one-stop shops.
To learn how to achieve comprehensive information governance with SharePoint, read this free white paper.
For more about digital workplaces, view the other posts in this series:
The Digital Workplace: Collaboration is only the beginning
Digital Workplace Checklist: Improve the value of your information
Digital Workplace Checklist: Create a one-stop shop
By Cynthia Wood