Automate a risky workflow for global intranet

Our workflow for handling content requests was a risky and time consuming phase of the intranet communication strategy for the digital team. In the wake of an intranet redesign, a refined content strategy was needed. We identified the need for an internal app to automate the workflow so that the improved governance system could meet the needs of publishers and content authors in the improved strategy.

I captured the interactive experience of the workflow. I designed a prototype and user testing and managed the rollout of features.

Content Workflow struggles

In a related research and discovery project I identified struggles with the content workflow for the global intranet. 

 

My Role
Researcher and designer.

I produced the logic model, process map, content, and screen flows. I also conducted testing with the power user.

Collaborators
content author network (multiple Subject Matter Experts), Content editor (sponsor), SharePoint Engineer, and Business Analyst.

Approach

The project occurred in 2018 when were still in the office. I had direct access to the network and support audience for the content workflow. I became aware of this problem because of my personal experience as the content publisher.

Challenge

Get other key product owners to understand the source of problems, pains and impacts. 

Success

Define the root cause of problems, pains and impacts of publishing experience.

Demonstrate the benefits of an automated publishing workflow would provide so that it is easier and more consistent to complete content publishing tasks. l

Where does the value lie?

User stories

I built an interactive content form that provided responsive feedback so users could identify when the request submissions were complete.

The form guided request through one standard request format and gathered all requests in one place.

A status dashboard allowed for intranet managers to see a full request history and requests could prioritized correctly.

Enhancement requests and feedback could be submitted and not mixed with content requests.

Need governance resources.

There was low understanding of the what to do and where the pains were. I developed a research plan to further define the problems with the current system and the impacts on the  user experience.

The intranet team was tracking bugs and feature extensions while content managers need an efficient way to inform the content network of changes in order to support the flexibility on the platform.
The previous content workflow did not provide enough stability for identifying why content request failed. Requests came in via email, word of mouth, and Teams chat. The lack of a request format meant many back and forth messages when all requirements weren’t included. Also there was no standard lead time or clear way to communicate priority.

The Intranet team need to record performance standards in order to establish benchmarks.

Content Managers need to govern the content standards and request compliance.

Work has a steep learning curve.

Lack of training and knowledge transfer

Content standards informed by analytics. The content team now can direct the content network how to flexibly adapt to insights with analytics.
The network of content author includes writers and communicators, some embedded in functional organizations while others are backups in regional business unit or not writers at all. The publishing workflow is very technical to complete. On top of that the new intranet platform had a new admin interface and new content requirements. The workflow needs to be easy to repeat, and there needs to be reference for standards and requirements. Content authors need frequent guidance on content publishing processes and workflows because putting content on the intranet is a secondary responsibility.

I built content standards training into the prompts of the content request form.

I built supplemental reference documents that could be downloaded on the form pages.

Using conditional logic all steps had to be completed in order to submit a request. This reduced repetitive redirects.

Automated message reply and a content request status dashboard to handle frequent queries about status.

Poor user experience

Content publisher hates redundant and tedious content policing task

The job of policing and teaching about content publishing also fell to the over committed lone content publisher. Content authors only care about audience engagement, they typically don’t care about the publishing process. On top of not being trained they were not motivated to follow content standards without frequent reminders or assistance. 

Content publisher needs support for policing content requests and handling lots of repetitive status queries so that are not the bottleneck.

Risky to business goals

Content publisher missed requests.

The whole content publishing process needs a system in order to reduce risk and solve consistency issues in the content process.

Content requests where sent to the personal enterprise inbox of the content publisher. Requests where randomly sent in fluctuating volumes. Sometimes new requests or changes to requests were missed, and incomplete. When content requests were sent by backups or new content requestors there was a high risk of them being overlooked in the inbox because the name and subject line were not clear. Request lead time was also random. When content publishers have to take PTO or are out sick, content requests are log jammed and don’t get done. The whole workflow was very dependent on the regular content publisher staying in place.

Content requests point to a shared inbox. The shared inbox was integrated with automated notifications to the user and alerts for the publisher so that work requests/updates weren’t missed..

Content request submissions required a desired publishing date and in order to submit a request. There was a separate tick box for items awaiting approval or assets.

The content request form link was accessible via Teams and it was included on the reply signature of all of he content publishers emails.

The new content archive automatically collected attached story assets into a structured SharePoint library.

I used Power Automate scripts to create year, month and date folders so that past story assets and content request could be easily matched.

Vital steps of workflow were missing

There was no guidance for content archiving.

We identified a missed opportunity – to build a content archive to understand performance. The archive could also help with training content authors on what good looks like.
Content publishers need a system for capturing performance data so that intranet content could be analyzed and measured

Results/Outcomes

Publishing flow chart

User Interface
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