Improving Your Collaboration Portal

I Paid For This Great Enterprise Collaboration Tool
Now What?

You made it to the end of a long project with all the financial, technical, and design decisions behind you.  You have a brand new portal, it’s beautiful, you’ve launched and everyone is happy. Now, how do you make sure that your investment in your newly minted technology continues to be a success?

Plan for Feature Enhancements and Next Project Phases

The best solutions always need room to grow and improve as new needs arise.  In order to get to launch on time and on budget, less important features should fall to future iterations.  Now that your solution is live, determining what to do next should be based on the business need and your user base.  What will help them get the most out of the solution?  What will help them do their job every day?  User experience enhancements, additional site templates, or a cool stock ticker?

Even though your solution is launched, you should budget time and money for enhancements in an iterative, measured approach. Plan for requirements, technical design, and deployments that won’t disrupt your users. Smaller incremental improvements will stabilize your platform and will be more successful than large redesigns.  Portals are no longer static content repositories.  Functionalities evolve, and as your users change, your portal should too.

Content Governance

In an effort to meet a timeline, you may have just moved content wherever it seemed to fit.  You may have hired contractors to move things quickly.   “…that document belongs in HR, that one belongs to the corporate site…”  After a few weeks, no one can find anything and different versions of the same information appear everywhere. 

The best solutions will always require ongoing content governance, and rules about where your content should go, need to evolve with the content.  Three simple things to focus on: 

  • Use your portal permissions to control where content goes (who has access to create content and where)
  • Establish tighter control over the home page and navigation and things that provide consistency of experience
  • Establish a governance committee to make the rules and provide for exceptions
  • Be sure content ownership is in the hands of the people that know the content (the business users)
  • Enforce tagging to enable a good search experience

Above all, be mindful that your content will evolve and grow. An archive plan established upon move in, can ensure a healthy relevant environment.

Adoption

Don’t forget about user adoption and monitor your usage.  Your beautiful new portal will not be successful if no one sees it.  Investing staff time on viewing and discussing usage statistics and bringing the results to your steering committee for potential improvements can focus your dollars in the right direction.  Pay attention to what page people are viewing the most, what they search and find, and what they search for and don’t find.  Your user’s pain points can easily be culminated from usage reports and turned into actions that improve adoption. A big launch with some form of mandatory enrollment can bring people to your portal, but you also want to think about what will keep them coming back.  Make sure your content is current, relevant and find-able.  Stale content is the quickest way to lose your users.

Investing in Managed Services for Support You Didn’t Think You Needed

Managed services is a term used to describe the outsourced management and technical support of your platform.  You may have hired a company to build your portal quickly and efficiently.  Your staff, while engaged in the process and decision making, may not be ready to support and maintain this new technology.  Your staff probably received some training, but may lack the level of expertise to troubleshoot daily problems.  Maybe you are downsizing your internal IT team, and still determining the essential staff skill sets. 

Planning to invest in the outside technical resources to provide immediate support, is a good idea for large critical systems. Your new portal, if it is successful, will quickly become essential to your employees and any downtime will impact your business.  For the first 6 months after the launch of a new portal, your staff will likely need support from technical experts until their experience can catch up with your new technology.

The investment made in time, money, and staff expectations to get your solution launched will need your continued attention in order to be successful.  It is important to have a plan and resources available to start working on the next phase as well as content governance and managed services to protect and enable your solution now.