Portal Governance Case Study at BEA Participate

May 20, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Posted in BEA, Governance, portals | 1 Comment

I have been speaking on web and portal governance for 5 years now, and I find it difficult to provide clients with actual examples.  It’s not that they aren’t out there, but that presenting on governance involves airing dirty laundry and most organizations don’t want to do that.  I recruited a speaker that gave a case study on their portal governance for a conference a few years ago, and it took a lot of searching to find that example (they were a public utility which helped).  That’s what made the portal governance presentation I saw at BEA Participate especially rare. 

The speaker was Jackie Jajdzik, team lead at Weyerhaeuser.  I would like to be able to claim I helped her with her governance strategy, but we’ve never spoken and yet she’s done pretty much all of what I recommend a governance process consist of (hear my podcast on portal governance here).  This includes deploying incrementally, putting it into a concise document, making the governance easy to find on the website, gathering and using metrics, and creating feedback loops. 

I’ll boil down the approach here.  I apologize for any incorrect paraphrasing – these are my categories not hers.  But these categories are what I tend to listen for from a client when discussing governance and Jackie had good answers to all of them – I was quite impressed.

Problem statement: 1600 websites, 500mm web pages accessed by 30,000+ users, no common access point, no governance and search indexed everything (for example, “benefits” returned myriad hits, confidential information would show up like resumes and disciplinary actions).  Anyone could customize and there were a few standard portlets and communities. Users had total freedom and no standards to tie them down, and yet were unhappy.   Key messages (safety being the most important to them) were lost, liability was an issue since everything was searchable and could show up on a home page, and support costs were growing.

Goals: Reflect unified company, manageable number of sites and communities, decrease management costs, easy to navigate, increased productivity.  It was obvious from the presentation that these goals were derived from actual pain points and created with buy-in, not just picked from a list from some paper on how to do governance.  She talked about how they received executive buy-in that was useful when they had to clamp down on formerly ungoverned sites.  Also, they needed to borrow some staff from the business to trim the sites.

What they did: The homepage was reorganized based on usability studies and analytics. Deleted 400 sites, applied navigation to 120 sites, put limits on search.  Their governance includes a concept she called “zoning”.  Zoning determines which technology to use from 3 options (community/project, conventional website, SharePoint). For example, if you want it indexed by search or have more than 200mb of storage you don’t use SharePoint.

Organizational structure: Executive sponsor, public affairs / intranet mgr, standards and operating committee with operational support from IT and their library (taxonomy, search engine hinting) + task teams.  Governance is looser for sites with smaller scope and tighter for enterprisewide sites.

Metrics and feedback loops: They do regular audits and have a site registry to track sites and classify them. There are quarterly meetings of the standards and operating committee. Satisfaction surveys track what users like and dislike, request features (biggest request is for social computing like blogs, wikis, and RSS), and how often they use it (don’t trust weblogs alone for this information).

Outcome:  Resulted in more root site usage, less complaints about finding information, less conflict with the business, information is more current.

Now if I can just find those public examples of written governance documents I get asked for too …

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