My all-time favorite management thought leader is Peter Drucker. Just about every thing I have ever read by him is relevant to helping me improve my management skills, even when it was written 50 years ago. For example, Drucker made famous the phrase, "What gets measured, gets managed." Of course, this quote implies that what does not get measured, does not get managed, which is overwhelmingly the case for managing social intranets.
Since companies started running intranets as a means for communicating with employees, managers have been struggling with two main issues:
- Keeping the content up to date
- trying to figure out whether the intranet is providing the value people expect
There are two problems with intranets, in general. First, is the simple fact that there is so much content that builds up, it is inevitable that intranets become filled with pages of outdated content because intranet teams cannot keep up with adding new content and keeping old content updated. Organizations do not spend the time and resources necessary to even know when pages become outdated and when/whether they should be updated. Second, it is difficult to understand whether people are actually using the intranet, how much, and whether people are engaged enough to find it valuable.
The reason these problems overwhelm intranets is that organizations or not measuring the right metrics. If organizations want to start managing intranets properly, it is necessary to start measuring the right metrics. And the over all question is "How do we know whether our intranet is delivering the value people expect.
There are three main metrics that organizations should measure: usage, engagement, and quality metrics.This post address these key metrics that managers need to measure in order to answer the value question.
Usage metrics could mean page views, meaning people are viewing pages and presumably reading the content. Usage metrics could also mean the amount of content being produced and who is producing it. How you define usage depends on what your organization cares about but your usage metrics should measure both consumption and production of content.
Consumption Metrics: Consumption metrics would include pages views and possible active users. If you do not want to measure usage at the individual level, it could be useful to measure usage by location or by department or by line of business or by job class/title. Imagine if you had data that showed that executives have the lowest consumption rate of all employee types or that one department uses it at a much higher rate than other departments? Knowing these numbers could prompt you to ask some very important questions.
Production Metrics: Product metrics could include the amount of pages being created on your intranet and by whom or by group or by location. You could also expand this metric to include the number of times existing pages are edited or how long it has been since pages have been updated (more on this in the Content Quality Metrics section). These could be useful metrics to monitor, even in an organization that centralizes the production of intranet content to one communications team. Usage metrics could be even more useful in an open organization with a social intranet where anyone can produce content. What if you knew that some departments produced more content than others? What if the human resources department complains that no one is following certain procedures, and you give HR a report that shows they hardly ever publish any communications or procedures on the intranet?
The great thing about social intranets is that employees can interact with the content and each other in the context of that content. People can comment, mention people to pull them into the conversation, and "like" pages. Likes and comments are considered engagement metrics because they show that people have some some reasonable connection with the content and have chosen to interact with it. On the one hand, it is easy to see the engagement of content on a Confluence Intranet by simply looking at pages to see how many likes and comments there are. On the other hand, do you know which page in your intranet had the most engagement last month? What were the top 10 most popular pages in July?
This is the level of reporting you need to get to in order to measure employee engagement with your intranet.
Content Quality Metrics
The hardest part about managing an intranet (or knowledge base for that matter) is keeping the content up-to-date. Intranets are famous for being riddled with outdated content. The more outdated content that people find, the more disenchanted people become. Over time, they use the intranet less and both usage and engagement metrics suffer. One of the promises of the social intranet is that content creation can be distributed beyond a centralized team, which means more content can be created, and therefore more people have fewer pages to maintain. It turns out, it just means there is more content that will become outdated.
In order to overcome the the problem of outdated content, it is vital to know which pages are outdated. Although there is no way to know whether a page is outdated without actually reviewing page content, a great place to start would be to know which pages have not been updated for a certain amount of time and then ranking those pages by the length of time since they were edited. This is at least a place to start. Then you could prioritize content review and possibly spend less time finding outdated content and more time actually updating it.
Enter the Data-Driving Intranet Manager
The main point of this post is that intranet performance and effectiveness can be measured if only managers had the data to monitor. By using and focusing on the right metrics, managers can use data to make informed decisions about how to improve communications and collaboration through their intranets.
Using these metrics may seem like a pipe dream. But it really isn't. The ServiceRocket Reporting Add-On can be installed on your Confluence Intranet and provide you will all of the metrics above on any Confluence page you choose. You can design tables and dashboards to display and use the data points mentioned in this post to improve engagement on your Confluence Intranet and help to keep the content up-to-date.
Call for comments
- How do you measure engagement on your intranet?
- How do you keep content up-to-date on your intranet?