Taking a closer look at user activities and the type of content delivered on your portal, collaborative environment or content management system can help you identify opportunities to gain greater ROI.
Whether your organization is considering an investment in collaborative tools or a content management system or looking to fine-tune existing resources to maximize value, Nucleus advises following a few key steps to keep your investment at peak performance.
Audit the Content
Auditing the content shouldn’t take more than an hour or two if you haven’t done it already, but it can be critical to building a foundation for broader use of the knowledge base. Auditing involves looking at the information that’s there. Is it largely process documents, FAQs, product information, or random notes? Is it organized intuitively? Should it be there? This exercise will tell you what kind of changes you may need to make to ensure that the information is relevant to a broader audience.
Audit the Users
Key personnel are probably telling you it’s a great system and they don’t want to change it. Let them show off and tell you why. There may be best practices they’re using to get benefit from the knowledge base that you’ll want to hardcode into future policies — or really bad ideas you’ll want to avoid. Audit future users. Walk a few new users through the knowledge base and see how intuitive it is to them.
Existing and Expected Knowledge Base Use
The answers to three questions will tell you how much change you may need to make in the current structure of the knowledge base itself so that it is useful to a broader audience:
- Do most users access the information they need on the first search?
- How much time do users spend reading the content that is delivered before they find what they need?
- How often and with what frequency does or will the average user access the knowledge base?
A good test here would be to ask non-users to do some searches and see if they get the information they need. If they don’t, it may make sense to invest in a little re-architecting of the existing knowledge base to make it more intuitive for a broader population — and to make it a good foundation for additional new content.
Are there and will there be “power users” and “casual users” of the knowledge base, and how will their use differ? If there are power users today, they’re likely to provide the best insights on how the data is organized and what workarounds or tricks they use to get best results. Casual users can probably point to the areas that are most frustrating.
Managing groups of users (enabling some to author, some to review, some to retire, and some only to access content) is a great way to ensure that content is appropriate and relevant, provided the rights are granted to appropriate people. To help determine how best to do this, you will want to know how many groups of users to expect and what review process (if any) you expect. You will also need to determine your key concerns around any potential politics of multiple user groups.
Ensuring that everyone contributes content when it has value — and that everyone embraces the new regime — will require an easy content authoring process and painless, if any, workflow.
Existing and Expected Content
You have X pieces of content today. Are they answers to specific questions, items about specific products, items about processes? Depending on the diversity of content in the knowledge base, Nucleus recommends picking a couple of standard templates with very similar look and feel that can be searched for based on their type and content (eg, I’m looking for a process document on escalation or I’m looking for a FAQ answer on e-mail).
How are they categorized or linked? Again, look to how helpful search results are today to the unseasoned user to determine if you need to do some re-architecting of the way items are accessed. This can be based on your standard template plan; for example, all process documents are categorized by process and cross-referenced to products and/or questions.
What is the average size (eg, 1 page, 50 pages, 1 paragraph) of an item? If the average is small and users find what they need on the first search, that size (with the opportunity for links or attachments) is probably a good standard for the template. You’ll want to look at this on a category-by-category basis. If users access more than one item to get what they need, you may need to “chunk up” or organize better links. To reduce the time users spend clicking to get what they need, providing links (rather than multiple attachments) is likely a better strategy.
What’s the expected growth per month in content? Standard templates that support simple meta-tagging, date of authoring, suggested retirement date, and other characteristics of data (related keywords or items) will help keep content consistent and current.
What’s the currency of content? You can probably determine today the appropriate time line for review and potential retirement of information based on a small sample of the existing knowledgebase and retired items. Alternatively, a simple pull-down in the template could let the author tell you when it should be reviewed for retirement or simply retired.
Taking the pulse of your content management system or portal today can help you identify areas to deliver greater returns from an existing project or plan a project sure to deliver increased productivity and reduced pain for users.
Rebecca Wettemann is vice president of research with Nucleus Research, an independent global research and advisory firm for CIOs and CFOs
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