Slides and a recording of the webinar are available from
This month Gerry McGovern and Natalie Bogos of HSBC UK provided the best Customer Carewords webinar that I've attended. No spin on Customer Carewords products or services, just a great case study of how to get a large organisation to change it's ways.
A couple of things did strike me though - Gerry McGovern, or who ever prepares his slides really really needs the help of Garr Reynolds and www.presentationzen.com - at the very least join istockphoto.com and spend 20 or 30 pounds for some new images for tools / timber and a workman.
Unfortunately the US changed to summertime over the weekend and that meant some folks had been on the line for an hour already. My recommendation is www.timeanddate.com - Steffan Thorsen does a wonderful job providing accurate time and date information as well as great tools for folks so they and their customers don't have to worry about time and date issues. Steffan's been doing this for more than 10 years and is a great guy to deal with.
Ok so enough with the advice on to what the presentation was like.
Gerry started out by going over the development of intranets and how he thinks they should devleop as a coming togeather of content and technical aspects.
"Skills of content and code need to be brought togeather to achieve tasks.
The challenge for intranet managers today is this new middle ground.
Content and code brought together helps people to do things that they need to be successful" Gerry McGovern
The suggestion was made that a new group or department should be created, possibly called e-productivity, and that it is this group that should head up the intranet.
Currently Gerry feels that all Intranets are in-efficient.
The way to address this in-efficiency is to identify core online customer tasks - intranet / web should focus on these core tasks and ability of users to complete those tasks.
Gerry points out that the Intranet employee is horrendously impatient. Staff a much more critical of intranets than people are of websites. Probably because less money and effort has been focused on their needs and requirements.
If we don't focus on what staff need they'll only use it as a last resort.
Gerry then gave a brief outline of how intranets have developed:
- Intranets moved from a focus on tools - [Gerry really needs to upgrade the quality of his images]
Magically buying new technology e.g. enterprise search just doesn't work - garbage in garbage out.
- Intranets then moved on to managing the timber - communicator running an intranet, like a pub to an alcoholic. Creates 100,000 page intranet - indicates a lack of control.
Managing the content fails.
[ again Gerry needs new imagery, these I've seen and commented on before now ]
- So efficiency comes by managing the tasks staff need to do to achieve their goals.
Over the years the Customer Carewords team have analysed 35,000 staff using intranets and the key tasks that are required by all intranets are:
- find people
- training / learning courses
- procedures, policies, guidelines, standards
- job vacancies
- travel (hotel, flight, rail, taxi)
- pay salary details
- career development
- find a location
Gerry's method is, as I've mentioned before, simple (and thus doable) but hard for people to take the time to do hence his consultancy does well.
To test tasks start with a hypothesis, either a live intranet or using wireframes.
Then test to see if staff can quickly and easily complete a task using the intranet / wireframe and compare the results, quantified, with the hypothesis.
As an example of this, the following image shows how successful staff were at filling in the correct date using the screen shot examples on the left. #1 was the original, and #3 was what the designe ended up looking like after testing with users
[ Gerry's next slide is an out of focus basket of fruit ]
[ Gerry's next slide is a photo of rotton bananas ]
The point of these two slides was that Out of date content is the #1 problem every intranet has.
Continuous quality control is a huge problem.
A Danish company Gerry has worked with came up with a smiley face model next to the name / photo of the person who owns the content in this section. The less up to date the content then the less happy the face shown. For their organisation this was very effective in getting the content owners to own the relevance of their content.
Content should be specific to the audience.
The more time the author spends on crafting their information for the audience the better the value and the lower the wasted time, within the company.
This is very hard for most organisations to act on because traditionally all measures of efficiency have been local not company wide.
Managing the task not the content is where the real efficiencies are available for intranets to take advantage of.
Natalie Bogos, intranet manager for HSBC UK. The HSBC UK intranet recently won an IBF award for usability. Natalie has 3 editorial members of the internal comms team working on the intranet plus 2 other project managers like herself. The technical support for their cms is provided for all HSBC intranets by a corporate team.
Natalie gave an outline of where the site was and then how she and her team, communications, moved to change things for the better.
HSBC UK intranet serves 60,000 staff with 65,500 pages spread over 300 microsites managed by 1700 publishers.
The site was growing 5% per month, that growth was not sustainable.
Publishers had been put first and were recognised for the number of pages they published not their quality or relevance. There was a lack of intranet resources as well, so they decided they would change.
In 2008 Natalie and her team worked with Customer carewords to work out top tasks, and work out what provides the best value to organisation.
Out of this analysis they came up with 100 top tasks.
They then had staff vote on those tasks to get them prioritiesed.
Natalie tracked the voting over 5 days (each column, colors indicate percentage of total votes for that day).
What Natalie found important was that the top 3 tasks were the same every day of voting so even if they'd only allowed voting for one day they would have got the right direction
Staff were also asked what improvements they would like. Responses were all over the show from RSS and blogs to the simple stuff. The most voted for ones (see image above) were those that in Gerry's words outlined a 'cry for help'
The goal was to was make things easier for staff.
So the intranet team did a whole lot of work and bench marked many of the 100 top tasks
Circulars are a key communication medium that has existed at HSBC for many many years. They also showed up in the key tasks staff needed to do - so the intranet team bench marked several tasks.
- by date, staff did OK at this but some couldn't do it in 6 mins, those who couldn't were the ones that used search
- by content, all staff used search, only 2 could achieve their goal
In summary - staff were loosing trust in the intranet because many people don't think what they find is correct. To talk the language that would influence managers the intranet team quantified potential savings possible by improving the top tasks. 16million pounds in savings was possible using conservative estimates.
16 million pounds was the clincher for moving HSBC UK from managing content to managing tasks.
Obviously search was one of biggest problems. So Natalie's team analysed key searches, and by manually editing the pages that people should find they got the key ones into the top 3 links on the results page.
This meant that staff started to regain trust in the intranet.
Content publishers were measured according to the number of pages they published. So a content management charter was implemented. It had to be agreed to by all publishers.
The directive for this came not from the intranet team but the Chief Operating officer, and had to be signed by all content creators and their line managers. Line managers were included so that they understood that things had changed and number of pages was no longer a measure of value.
Part of the charter is that the intranet team will support, help and asses each publisher's area. Results from the assessment are then tied into publisher's end of year review with their line manager.
Too much content
In conjunction with publishers 20,000 pages were deleted in less than 2 months - but publishers created 13,000 new pages in the same period. So all non-business critical content publishing was stopped. Each publisher and site were assessed, then suggestions made by intranet team on how things could be improved.
This key organisational communication medium was costing the company money.
Putting them on the intranet saved HSBC UK a lot of money in printing and distribution. Unfortunately the way they were written didn't change with the move to the web. They were written by the senior management team, were very long 5 pages plus appendixes of 5 to 10 pages.
Getting things changed with such a long standing tradition required illustrating the point. So the team provided an alternate version to the original. This alternate version was written for the web, referenced the original for those that required more detail and was given a soft launch.
Usage was quantified and it was found that 95% of staff preferred the alternate version.
To strengthen case for moving from the old style format reading times were recorded to show potential time saving, which had been such a powerful force with the senior management team.
Sometimes 3 circulars per week were published, and all circulars are required reading for most staff, so there were considerable savings to be made.
The figures got the senior mangers on board and now the old circulars are no longer created. The web optimised version is now used by everyone.
From my point of view this is a great case study. Natalie knew the organisation and what would convince them to make things better - hard numbers and she then set out to deliver benefit to the organisation by illustrating the problems with hard numbers. Just superb.
Gerry and his team will make the slides and a recording of this event available via www.customercarewords.com
What would be a perfect intranet ?
Best answer Gerry has ever had - 'survivors guide to a shitty week'