We take an in-depth look at The Intranet Management Handbook, by Martin White

When we heard Martin White – Managing Director of information management and intranet management consultancy, Intranet Focus Ltd was releasing a new book called ‘The Intranet Management Handbook‘ we couldn’t wait to read the latest addition to his portfolio of publications.

After Martin very kindly sent a couple of copies of the book to the Interact offices, we locked ourselves away to digest the full 229 pages.

The book is divided into four sections including Foundations, Technology, Operations and Governance & Strategy and it promises to offer: “…invaluable guidance to all information professionals involved in the development of an intranet for their organisation and will also be of interest to a wide range of managers with responsibility for internal communications, personal management, risk management, information management and information technology.”

One of the chapters that really stood out to us, was chapter 15, ‘Measuring User Satisfaction,’ located in the Operations section. In this chapter Martin discusses a wide-range of procedures that can be used for measuring the value and impact of an intranet, something which is imperative to all organisations.

Martin writes:
“Intranet managers seem to be on an almost perpetual quest to find ways to justify not only investment in the intranet but almost the very existence of the application… It is therefore important for the governance strategy to present a range of ways in which the value and impact of the intranet can be assessed.”

He discusses a wide range of approaches that can be used to investigate user satisfaction. He places particular importance on the analysis of search logs, with the most useful log reports being – the ‘top searches by search terms or query’ and the ‘top searches leading to no or very few results being presented.’

Speaking of ‘top searches by search terms or query’, he tells us:
“Even if the enterprise search is working across multiple repositories, it is likely that the intranet will be the starting point for the majority of searches … the purpose is to see which searches are the most popular – and some of them could well be symptomatic of poor information architecture…”

He advises that when examining the search results that are leading to no or very few results, this will highlight where there are gaps in content, or where a search query is being typed incorrectly and an alternative is not being suggested:

“A user may have chosen the wrong collection or used the wrong acronym for an internal project or product. These really need to be looked at as a matter of urgency, because the lack of results will worry the searcher and mean that they will then phone someone, hoping that the lack of a response is just due to their inexperience.”

Martin continues to discuss various methods for measuring user satisfaction, but advises readers that to use them all would be unrealistic and the choice of approach should take into account available resources and the way in which the organisation typically makes investment decisions.

Our overall verdict of the book:

If a university course for Intranet Managers existed, ‘The Intranet Management Handbook’ by Martin White would be required reading. This book provides a comprehensive overview of what makes intranets tick. Martin has a very personable and easy to read style. Yet still manages to apply emphasis in the right places, leaving would-be intranet managers in no doubt of the importance of consulting the end-user when planning structure and content (‘user-requirement focus’ is key!) or inherent difficulties in producing an ROI for an intranet.

Martin addresses the problems that the Intranet Manager may encounter with a pointed lack of scaremongering, always keeping forward momentum in his solutions. His guidance is thoughtful and frank, covering a range of topics from intranet structure, governance, content planning, enhancing collaboration, to the often overlooked area of ‘intranet risk management’. There are detailed, step by step instructions on how to ‘interview users’ and ‘create business plans’, with information having the solid backup of case studies and research, with further sources of information being found at the end of each chapter. In short, an invaluable text and must-have read for any Intranet Manager.

Find out more about Martin White and purchase The Intranet Management Handbook