I'm a little slow! This is the screen shot to accompany the notes below.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Content Modelling 101: Turning Data into Information
by Theresa Regli, Director, Content Management, Molecular, Inc. www.molecular.com
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Can have the same content, but different content models; more than one way to convey the data, depending on the audience it is intended for.
Users take action based on the information at hand. Some results are positive; some aren’t. It depends on how well someone gathers information, interprets it, and uses it. Effective content models enable business users and end customers to find and act on the information they need to make them successful.
This session – how to think strategically about your content. Use content to solve your business goals.
Definitions of a content model:
- components that comprise a body of content (all the pieces of data)
- building on that, the semantic structure of a body of content (how the pieces of data relate to each other)
- a framework applied to data to create information (making those pieces of data useful to people)
Content model: fuelling a simple business
- knowledge sharing
- knowledge management
- KM to ECM (enterprise content management) – take internal knowledge and share it with others who interface with you (e.g. sharing with customers)
Attributes of a good content model
o law for categorizing information e.g. Dewey Decimal system; Library of Congress – both classification systems for libraries, but used by distinct audiences
o one of the foundations of a good content model
o Figure out to break down content and granulize so it can be reused in many ways
o Localized presentation of elements – make same information look different for different locations
o Make content elements browsable – allow users to narrow down and select products based on very granular attributes. Don’t just store as a big paragraph.
o Useful to have results pull up so they are populated automatically by the system when the user looks something up e.g. www.epicurious.com – find and select recipes based on very granular attributes (ingredient, part of meal, national origin).
Pull up from menus
Power search – search template – figure out how users want to find the information and make those types of searches available
How to effectively gather content model requirements
- you need to go out and talk to your customers/users; you cannot come up with a data model yourself. It will not work for your customer otherwise.
- The curse of the marketing moniker – even though you are using the terminology internally, your customers probably aren’t familiar with your internal terminology
- You need to listen to your customers, both internal and external before creating models
- Listen to the words that your customers use
- Qualitative research: focus groups, card sorting
- Quantitative research: surveys, search logs
o Use quantitative research to validate qualitative research – i.e. send out to a larger group before you finalize
- Think of your content model as part of the customer experience, rather than just a way of organizing data
- Validate content models both with internal stakeholders and external models
- Apply human factors best practices to your content model
Designing your content model
- key considerations
o what kind of data store will the content model be used in (database? XML repository?)
o user feedback – what received so far?
o Any content database of any sort in existence today – can they be used and leveraged?
o Does any terminology exist? Need to be created? Need to be re-written?
o What is the appropriate level of granularity?
Only create detail if it makes business sense
The more granular you get, the more work it takes to create and maintain it
Needs to be a pay-off to make it this granular
- Content model creation process
o Collect core sample of content and analyze re: requirements
o Document and iterate on the categorization
o Testing – hypothetical search, display and browse scenarios
o Keep revising based on findings
Content models help users make smart decisions.
The content model can “make or break” your CMS implementation – make sure your content is modeled to enable:
- how you want to display it
- semantic relationships
- turning data into information
Best to create the model up front; very difficult to go back and change all that; however, may depend on the complexity of your content. If your organization only wants to check documents in and out of document management system, then it doesn’t have to be as complex.
If you want more detailed information contact the speaker.
Finally I took matters into my own hand and read through the "Error" message that was coming up. It was actually a bit of a trouble-shooting guide, and I worked my way through the list of suggested fixes. I was getting down to the last one and doubtful, but *voila!* it worked.
So, if you similarly are trying to sign on to Lexis.com but are only coming up with error messages, and are using Internet Explorer (I'm on some recent incarnation of 6.0) try this:
-> Select Tools
-> Internet Options
-> Scroll down to "Security" and make sure all of these are checked off:
- Use SSL 2.0
- Use SSL 3.0
- Use TLS 1.0
For me, "Use SSL 3.0" was not checked off. As soon as I did this I was magically able to sign on.
I hope this post is useful to someone! If it is, I encourage you to post a comment or send me an email.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I have added a link to Mary Lee Kennedy's presentation into the notes I posted last night.
Anyone interested can also post this Technorati tag to your blog:
km world .
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Governance Do’s and Don’t's: Three Principles
by Mary Lee Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Group
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
[See the presenter's PowerPoint presentation (approx. 22 pages) including graphics and charts not reproduced below - added Nov. 23/05]
Some organizations do not even use the term “governance”, while others have it on the table at every discussion. How we put it on the table can be controversial. Today she is going to use basic principles.
Key governance questions:
- to govern or not to govern? Not everything may need governance
- And if to govern, what matters most?
- And how will we govern it?
What is governance?
- who is responsible for what, how they will be responsible
- how decisions will be made
- should we assume that all governance is formal and necessary?
Purpose of governance
- in the world of information, to help create a predictable user experience
o does predictability mean pre-determined user experience?
o Does governance of information meet our knowledge needs?
1. knowledge can only be volunteered; it cannot be conscripted
2. I only know what I know when I need to know it
3. I always know more than I can say and I will always say more than I can write down
- how can you deliver information predictably when people won’t know what they will need to know? How can you create a predictable user experience in this context?
- Need to create conversations
- Need to help people find who they can contact for those conversations
Governance is really a cultural dilemma
- which type of culture are you trying to govern?
- See chart – from Living on the Fault Line by Moore, 2000 [see also ebook version]
- If I am the best, people will follow me; if I’m not, people won’t – in this environment, hierarchy very important
- Very different governance structure: collaborative environment
- Have to look at the environment you are in to create the collaborative structure
Six Dimensions of Cultural Diversity
- chart by Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars [see also firm Trompenaars Hampden-Turner]
- governance isn’t always an either/or situation; this set of dilemmas in the chart helps you decide what type of governance you need
Governance and Context
- is governance flexible, does it change in your organization dependent on the context?
- May need to create two types of governance or an “hybrid” to deal with two contexts
- Different types of knowledge needed may be at various degrees of complexity
o How to cook a soft-boiled egg
o How to fix an airplane
o How to solve our healthcare challenges
o Tell me everything you know
- Once you have determined the type of knowledge, the context, the complexity, then you need to figure out how to govern it
o A sense making approach :
Simple (cooking egg)
Complicated (fix airplane)
Complex (solve healthcare)
o You don’t govern these in the same way
- In many cases, intranet is created first, and then governance developed over time; intranet created from the bottom up and governance created from the top down
Critical knowledge capture
- have to choose ways to govern to enable information exchanges; enable people to speak to each other when they need to speak to each other
- capture what people know and make it accessible;
o however, if it is very contextual, so need to index, make searchable, somehow make it accessible.
o How do you do this? Do you need to make an audio file rather than text-based file?
o How do you present it?
- Need to find the right method for your organization
Knowing what to govern
- need to know what is “good enough”
- need to determine what pieces need governance
Ritualizing how to govern
- need a definition of what needs governance and what doesn’t
- define roles and responsibilities
- implement decision-making process consistent with your organization
- may need to implement a reward and recognition program esp. consistent with the culture
- implement a realistic workflow for those governing
- how do you address conflict? Determine up front rather than when there is conflict
Social Networking & Knowledge Transfer:
What do Blogs Bring to Business and KM?
Bill Ives, Co-Author, Business Blogs: a practical guide (with Amanda G. Watlington)
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Bill Ives' blog: Portals and KM
Anyone can have a presence on the web. He is very non-technical: “If I can do it, anyone can do it”
Blogs have had a lot of press for:
- alternative journalism
- personal blogs
What are blogs?
- simple web pages designed for frequent updates
- entry barriers are being eliminated: require little or no coding, little or no cost
- each post has its own unique URL (on the Internet, or behind a firewall on an intranet)
- posts can contain links to other posts or sites
- can accommodate comments
- searchable archive that can have categories for browsing
– powerful personal knowledge management tool
Tom Davenport, Tuesday's keynote speaker, just started a blog a month ago.
Examples of business use:
- posting project status reports to a group blog allows everyone to see what everyone else is doing
- summaries of how problems were solved (becomes an archives)
- meeting minutes and notes and related discussion
o don’t tell people it is a blog, but tell them it is a “new tool” to support meetings
o if people missed a meeting, they can ask questions
o post links to articles or websites that were mentioned in the meetings
o available 24/7 to anyone
o not necessary to send around a lot of email messages
Plato: “meaning is better derived from the dialogue of viewpoints” (Phaedrus)
Recent report from The Economist
- knowledge management and competitive intelligence are top critical imperatives with business executives
- workers are swamped with information that has little context and meaning
– blogs are not the only solution, but they can help
- more lively and personal than normal publication
- more permanent and accessible than normal conversation
- important part of the next generation of the web – smart companies are the ones that make use of them
Interviewed business bloggers for their book. Some discoveries from the interviews:
- blogs act as a content publishing system that the individuals/group put out to the world
- however, transparent in a way that people can respond to it; establish connection with people and engage in dialogue
- reading others’ blogs allows you to get around initial discussion in getting to know someone
- allows for the building of communities
- allows for lots of discussions to take place
- collaboration: allows for finding of new business partners
Creation, collection and context
- e.g. hospital – blog diary of an intern that makes their work come alive every day
- internal blogs created inside organization soliciting charitable funding for NGO, have blogs telling the stories of people in the field in various countries
Connection (and exposure through transparency)
- Scobleizer – one of the most famous bloggers from Microsoft
- Ed Brill – IBM
- Buzzmodo – allows small organizations to have a very large presence on the web [see also: Buzznovation]
- Conversations with Dina – Dina Mehta, wanting to connect with other people (photo work) – uses her photoblog as her resume when responding to RFPs
- Down the avenue
- RConversation – Rebecca MacKinnon – former journalist from CNN – trying to lead bloggers in countries around the world
Community and Collaboration
- Tim Draper – ran contest for people to send him their ideas
- Collaboration inside the organization:
o IBM uses blogs inside the organization to manage people as well
o When people come to your organization they can learn about you in advance
Some KM blogs – see list in handouts
Book available: Business Blogs: A Practical Guide by Bill Ives and Amanda G. Watlington
Thursday, November 17, 2005
It is unfair of me to generalize that because there were no case studies from real corporations Corporate America must not be doing enough to leverage technologies like blogs, wikis, and RSS as a meaningful component of their KM program. And, there were a couple of examples given of companies, like IBM, that are doing this. But this is the KM World conference, is it not? If companies had compelling stories to tell around internal blogging initiatives where would they be presented if not here?
I do feel guilty on this one. Here I am gathering lots of blogging expertise myself, but meanwhile haven't set my organization up with even an experimental blog or two. Not that there isn't interest...I do have people asking for this actually. Perhaps it just feels like setting up blogs isn't really work, and doesn't get top billing when things like budget reports are jumping up and down to get done.
The key, I think, will be tieing it back to the organization's business priorities / requirements. If this helps you immediately accomplish some goals, you will make time for it. It is just a matter of lack of imagination. I have to spend some time thinking about these seemingly disparate things and drawing the connections. I did find some of these sessions helped with that--there were enough suggestions to help me get started.
I wonder if anyone else was inspired?
After the sessions, tables were set up on various topics to allow "communities of interest" to gather. A small fraction of the delegates took part. It wasn't really set up for a larger crowd. The collaborative tools group, which I was interested in joining when I got out of the last session, was already deep in discussion when I arrived. They seemed pretty focused on a specific topic and I really didn't feel like trying to break my way in. It would have been nice if they had some sort of intake/welcoming mechanism to allow newcomers to integrate. I opted instead to take a few photos and work on some of my content while watching the general interaction in the room.
People interested in collaborative tools such as blogs, wikis, and many others joined together in a discussion I think was led by Darlene Fichter. This was by far the largest group; the people standing behind the table in discussion were a part of the group, and it continued to grow beyond this.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Thinking for a Living: Improving the Performance of Knowledge Workers
by Tom Davenport, KM World
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Author of: Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers by Tom Davenport
Top business management thinker – after Peter Drucker and Thomas Freidman Prof. Drucker has just died; he is dedicating his talk today to him.
What is a knowledge worker?
- Peter Drucker coined the term of a “knowledge worker”.
- Davenport defines it as someone highly educated, have a lot of expertise in their area; create, distribute or apply knowledge [librarians distribute; lawyers apply]
- knowledge workers are at the core of value creation and drive growth of companies; they drive the future
- HOWEVER: most organizations “hire smart people and leave them alone”
- knowledge workers typically enjoy high levels of autonomy
- their work is unstructured, collaborative, and iterative
How do you make knowledge workers’ work most constructive?
- segmentation: all knowledge workers aren’t alike, and their work shouldn’t be treated the same way
- see model: “Segmenting on Interdependence and Complexity”
Ten Ways to Improve Knowledge Work
(goes into more detail in his book)
1. Adopt a process orientation
a. Addresses the flow, measurement, outputs, and customers for work
b. Some PO aspects don’t work:
i. Redesigning from scratch – knowledge workers don’t want you taking apart and recreating their processes
ii. Specifying detailed process flows – takes a year of observation to create a detailed model
iii. Cannot separate process from practice
c. Alternative is to look at knowledge workers in practice
d. Works well with software and civil engineering, clinical trials and other health care protocol
e. Does not work well with finding oil and gas, executive management, drug development, academia
f. For knowledge workers:
i. Allow them participate in creating their own process
ii. Look for other ways to improve work
1. output specifications
2. role structures
3. customer orientation
4. [ - ]
5. Change the external environment
a. Don’t change the content or process, but change things like
i. Physical space
- the bigger the work space, the higher the productivity (not sure why);
- people should be allowed choice how to design their physical space
ii. Team structures
v. All of the above, but not all at once
b. Embed knowledge into work
a. Difficult to employ knowledge in the context of work – people don’t have time to contribute knowledge since they are so busy
b. KM repositories suffer for this reason
c. Best to have the technology collect knowledge for you
c. Automated decisions
a. Using a decision tree for aspects of work
d. Focused knowledge management
a. Some work is too unstructured or iterative to be amenable to embedding knowledge into work; for these, traditional KM repositories or portals may be the best solution and should be structured for these people
6. Address personal capabilities
a. Everyone works and progresses faster than in the past because of changes in IT
b. Devices and tools for personal information management aren’t integrating well
c. More information and knowledge than people can handle
d. People need help
e. People spending 40% of their day processing new information
i. Use as few devices as possible
ii. Learn one piece of software very well
iii. Invest some time on a weekly basis
iv. Don’t be a missionary
v. Find a gadget or two and stick with it
vi. Paper is still useful medium for most
vii. Lists can be freeing
viii. Get some instruction in searching
7. Reuse existing intellectual assets
b. Need leadership – needs someone who understands to take charge
c. Asset visibility – people need to be able to see it
d. Asset control – needs to remain high quality
8. Put someone in charge
9. Emulate the social networks of high performers
a. Better social networks, more extensive, more sought out for information, more aware of information than the average person
b. Knowledge work is social work – need people to make it work
10. Experiment and measure
a. We don’t really know what we’re doing so need to experiment
b. Need to use some scientific method;
i. change only one factor at a time
ii. control group
iv. systemic recording of learnings
Workshop #13: Web Content Management Systems: Architectures & Products
Presenter: Tony Byrne, creator of CMS Watch and CMS Report
Web content management = WCM or web cms
1800 different web cms vendors. How do you choose?
Speaker: Tony Byrne founded CMS Watch – http://www.cmswatch.com/
Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
- how does WCM fall into this?
- imaging – first area developed
- Knowledge management
- Digital assets management
- Product data management
- Records management
- And others…
Often vendors will call themselves “ECM” but not necessarily for all these areas; hope that you will use their product across various rolls.
Have in common:
- processing content;
- content transformation;
Web Content Management
Structured document – usually follows a document model, may have tagging, follows a template of some kind
Some systems deal better with unstructured content; some deal better with structured
- moves content into forms usable by end-user in web formats – PDF, web pages, for PDA, XML (syndication)
Are you working with content management, or website management?
Is technology meant to be “out of the box” (but limited) or are you creating a platform on top of which you can create other applications.
Need for content reusability puts a lot of emphasis on the editorial system and processes.
Two Phases in the Web Content Management Life Cycle
- 1st Phase: employee/architectural – author facing
- 2nd Phase: client/delivery phase – client facing – publishing & distribution
Library services – control over versions of a document; who has control over versioning
Authoring & Transformation
- have to absolutely get this right
- a lot of systems make incorrect assumptions regarding the needs of content authors/owners
- consider content managers, authors, power users, average users – they will all have different needs
- XHTML – more standardized than some other HTMLs
- Copy and pasting content formatting from Word. Not a problem with Rich Text Editor, but with Word; may start looking different – HTML gets cleaned up underneath especially if people aren’t using Styles. Vendor demos like to show cutting and pasting – need to understand what is happening and try with your own documents
Types of solutions:
- Thick clients - Have to instal the programs. Not customizable.
- Morello – client interface; very slick. Not customizable; need to be able to use out of the box; a thick client that has to be installed
- Popular on intranets: WebDAV compliant: drag content into directories; something may happen when it is put into folder. Has to be simple structure.
- Word to XML or Word to database interface e.g. Fatwire. Demos very well, but users rarely use it. Works well if using Word Styles; can map the styles to database fields – may be good for law firm using Styles
- Outlook as a client – Outlook plug-in – approve/reject from there; however can’t see the underlying content in HTML out of the box; however, may be able to configure it that way
- In context editing – browse to part of the site, click on page component and edit it right there (Red Dot innovated this and excels at it; however, others have adopted). Minimal training; good when lots of people are updating. Good for lots of “casual” content The big issue from an enterprise perspective: with heavily reused content, cannot see how the one change affects across other places across the intranet/website. Can quickly deteriorate.
- Retrieval: page finder template
- Pre-publish – create content and release at different times
- create a persona and create interface for that person. You may think they will hate an interface, but they may love it – test with actual users at different levels
- best interface may be one that can be easily modified for different content authors, rather than using something straight out of the box
- limited vocabularies are a must
- can you change the taxonomies
- can you change the underlying tagging fields easily?
- Tagging Interfaces
o Hierarchical – tree-based interface; check off for multiple classification to one item
- almost everyone asks for it, hardly anyone uses it
- e.g. repetitive task tracked and content pulled out automatically
- not used if not already in their workflow process
o Newspaper production is good analogy for the roles (writer, editor, copyeditor, managing editor)
o Best not to create parallel workflow; allow only one person at a time to work with something
- Very difficult for a consultant to be able to model the workflow of an organization
- “workflows” and “tasks” should ideally be in the same in-box
- Various languages loaded up simultaneously – must live in a world of parallel workflow
Be cautious of all WYSIWIG design tools - experience has been very poor with GUI designs.
- organizing the steps to “go live” with content
- may want a staging area to pull content and associated template code, images, etc. together and viewing it before it is published
- Interwoven only works in the production area; push it out to another area for content delivery
- Enterprise web content management – easy to run into problems late in the process e.g. pull model may not comply with security requirements; may need to be pushed
- Is the one vendor good at all aspects? Inside firewall – limited number of users; outside firewall (i.e. public website, on extranet) – could get very high traffic and need greater scalability
Keep asking questions with vendors. Do you really need the number of servers they are suggesting? Buying more product than you really need? Greatest problem in industry is people overbuying product, not underbuying. Don’t really need all this gear they try to sell. Most often will just “publish and go”.
Issues in Delivery Phase
- with CMS, portal or other delivery product
- how and where are templates actually stored? May be in CMS with its own tag, but may be proprietary format; others have them outside the CMS – using standard tools developers know; however, templates reside outside the CMS
- are you already a Java shop, or PHP?
- How many presentation templates do you really need? Use minimum you can get away with
- If you make a change to a template, does it change the “parent” or does it create a new template?
- Two extremes as to how pages get generated: baking and frying
- Baking – pre-generating a page out of the database – creates into a static HTML file – advantages: great performance; however, everyone getting the same page (or one of just a few versions). Newspaper model: “bake” a new edition every night and post it – Proctor and Gamble uses
- Frying – content is not assembled until user “clicks” – get streamed down to HTML – good for personalization since you don’t know which users will want that data
- Hybrid “Parbake” – pre-assemble as much as you can in advance, and then the DB manager puts out new content
Caching in CMS
- someone makes a change and the change does not show; in an ideal world, the CMS would automatically flush the cache to show new content
- done for reliability, performance, or both
- may get better performance because both working
- will need licenses on both servers for “load balancing” model
- varies by vendor – some will give discount or free for “failover” server (backup for emergencies); other will make you pay for both.
Publishing Out to Other Formats
- WCM – not quite at single source of content that can be put out to various locations and forms yet – designed to send out to various locations/sites; designed to send out to various electronic formats; cannot yet send out to print.
- Primarily a content modeling challenge, not a technology challenge
o WML Source code – similar to Apple’s old Hypercard
o For streaming stuff to wireless device, this is good to go; however, not designed for the norms and format for the device. Presupposes you have shredded the model down to the level of detail needed for a PDA.
o Need to start with the output and work back to create distinct elements needed
- If you want to be close to your customer and adaptive, you need to manage it in a more sophisticated way.
What a WCM Product Won’t Do
- it won’t organize your content and navigation
- won’t make the site more usable or improve the presentation
- won’t optimize your content for the wireless environment
At least 1800 web content management products
- more vendors entering the scene and little products getting bigger
- VERY fragmented market
- Most are regional; active in their own areas or a specific industry (usually small, under 10 people on staff)
- Very few standards as to how to publish to the web
- Consultants creating solutions for their clients
- Inexpensive to get into developing in this area
- Young industry
Speaker has observed that most organizations reducing the number of content creators rather than increasing.
You are “getting married” to the vendor. Look at their personality, corporate culture. E.g. Stellent – based in Minnesota, very earnest, not slick, very engineering-oriented
Important to read New sGroups and go to User Group meetings (ask if you can observe) before buying into a product – e.g. how would you find that IBM have two different products they are selling under the same name??
Ektron – cheap CMS version of software - $3,000; or XML version $15,000
Important to look at file naming for website – will it maintain the names, especially to maintain your Google ranking.
If you put yourself into the mid-market, look at at least one low cost vendor to see what you will get. Will give you a good idea of what you are going to get from mid-market.
Blog: type of content set up – content comes up in reverse chronological order – single, simple use case – very simple management system to manage
Do you need a CMS right away?
- if you haven’t cleaned up your content, if you are just starting out, probably too early. Need to create your business case and solid requirements. Recommends using a small in-between solution as a stop-gap measure (“starter home” idea).
- not budgeting for services; will need to bring in the vendor experts even if you have your own developers in-house
o consulting for getting requirements nailed down; customization; integration; migration; testing
o there is a lot of work. E.g. If CMS is $250,000, it will cost $1.5 million to implement
- it is always a trip to the dentist – go home and “floss” your HTML – comment tags, XHTML compliant, use “HTML Tidy” to clean it up; make sure headers and footers are standard
- premature selection – don’t rush into technology project before you figure out what you really need – this is why people overbuy
o e.g. Describe HOW you need to integrate with document management system
o easy to use – What does this mean? Better to create personas to describe the types of people who will be using the system.
- “love at first sight”
- Sooner you can get the content authors USING something, the sooner they will see what their requirements are and tell you what they need to work.
- Buy a system after multiple vendors have installed their system and allow you to try it out
- The larger the group, the simpler the tool you need. Always buy simpler than what you think you might need
- Go through a thorough selection process – RFI, RFP
- Watch out for “love at first sight” – don’t just pick a CMS because you like the demo, company, salesperson
- RFI, test period necessary and figure out governance before buying – 9 months setting requirements and preparing content; 9 months for selection process. If you shortcut this, e.g. 3 month selection, you will end up waiting at least 6 months learning to use the system and preparing to get it up and runnin
- Appropriate to have a series of roll-outs e.g. over 3 years, rather than one big roll-out
- you are building a relationship with the vendor which will hopefully last 10 or more years
- less protected from a big vendor than a smaller vendor
o put together an interdisciplinary selection team
o common to see these groups argue through vendor demos; good to agree on terms before you go into a meeting; there is no standardization in the industry. Good to come up with your own glossary.
o The vendor may be more important then the product. Go for the people you have the best rapport with rather than with the ideal solution i.e. put some of your due diligence into investigating the implementation term
o Send some of your team to vendor product training
o Meet the team you will be working with in advance
o Keep your business requirements/objectives squarely in front of you esp. if you are asked to make deadline
Allow generalized staff to specialize. E.g. general webmasters have opportunity to go on to more advanced role.
I hope you don't mind that I've included the odd screen shot rather than photos of people. I feel uncomfortable using a flash in a smallish room of people, and uncomfortable posting identifiable photos of speakers in the case someone would like to maintain some privacy. At least not without permission.
Late yesterday I finally noticed the water fountains in the conference centre and life has been sweet since then. You will recall I was becoming somewhat--er--parched. I've also been attending fewer sessions so haven't had quite the need for pow-wah.
Today I tried to focus a little more on the trade show which opened last night. I've also been trying to speak with various other people--other "buyers" with more experience, consultants and others. I find it amusing that I continue to run into Torontonians who I did not previously know. Why aren't we just holding the conference in Toronto? Heh.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Peter Jones, Managing Principal, Redesign Research
Nick Kizirnis, Intranet Manager, Lexis Nexis
Monday, November 14, 2005
- Building Intranet Portals: A Report from the Trenches (2002-2005) by Goodwin & Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG)
- Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox from http://www.useit.com/ – weekly/monthly email newsletter
- Nielsen Norman Group is the largest consultancy group in this area; good to learn from
- Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web by Christina Wodtke [thanks to Steve Matthews for the corrected info! - Nov. 16/05]
- Jesse James Garrett- speaking at the conference
Do legacy applications predetermine your portal? E.g. Microsoft, Hummingbird
“Doing search well can take forever; can be a whole career’s worth of work.”
Lessons from Nielsen:
- people issues are the biggest cost in portal implementation
- governance issues can make or break the process
- focus on the decision-making process more than the application itself
- involving users from an early stage eases acceptance problems
- set up cross-function steering group to communicate back to the portal management team
o Customer Advisory Group (CAB) – high level
o User Council
o Have 2 – 3 feedback groups, not just at the executive level
What is the content?
Structure e.g. keywords, metadata
Who owns the content?
Where is the content?
Centralize or de-centralize
Tell us all about the content
Content inventory/audit – Jeff Veen from Adaptive Path http://www.adaptivepath.com/ has good information on conducting a content audit
How much ROT do you have – Redundant, Out-dated, Trivial content
Identify the content and get rid of the ROT – this is a big, ugly process that takes time
Make sure your content is good
- be partners with IT, not adversaries
o working together provides checks and balances if everyone is “in the know”
- if you are in IT, read the manual
- “it’s slow”
o systems testing is very important
o it can be very difficult to determine the issues that are causing the system to be slow.
Lesson from Nielsen
- portals do not solve intranet usability issues. They can, however, create them. i.e. do not switch to a portal to improve usability
- may need to make a trade-off between speed and flexibility
o determine your priorities
- talk to user base as to how the information can be used once the portal is in place – they may find new uses
- need central guidelines to ensure content is usable
o Rules can make lives easier
o Get commitments from internal content providers – consider service-level agreements (but these are difficult to get signed)
- a dynamic, continuous process
Where you discover them:
- Organizational – overall business and organization needs
- Teams – you need tools, content and resources for specific product teams and working groups – need to find those teams and determine how to help them
- look at enterprise portal stakeholders
o management departments
o groups within the departments
Portal often initially structured like you organization structure; they do not recommend the portal be structured this way.
See handout chart “Portal Decision Framework”
Practices – to think like a customer, or learn from the customer – try one for each customer:
- Customer round tables – used more in customer-user research perspective; looking at end-user when something has implemented esp. within a specific organization
- Focus groups – go out into the field; keep short; based on focused series of questions; defined group of participants
- User surveys - Gives usable data, findings to use as leverage for proactive responses
- Personas & task scenerios - representations and profiles of key users; different employees and their roles
- Contextual interviews / observations – e.g. have user group work with paper prototype, move it around (flexible); have stakeholders and designers observe – used a “wish list” the people previously set, had them sort cards created from the wish list according to priority (took about an hour)
- Usability testing – test current requirements and helps identify new testing
“Agile process” – they advocate quick and easy methods e.g. sampling from small groups, gathering user requirements and user testing. (Highsmith, Cockburn)
Task & Content Requirements
- create a strong model simplifying core tasks of what users do; best to have 5 – 7 requirements (human memory limit) “a strong task model”
- streamline it in the requirements phase, and then build it out
- need prototyping phases and usability evaluation
- structure content by function not department
- what are the tasks all employees want to accomplish?
- Review with stakeholders
- Function model is persistent – even if there are internal reorganizations/ new assignment of responsibilities, don’t need to change around the organization
- see esp. Agile Manifest http://www.agilemanifesto.com/
- you will not have a lot of time to analyze results
- instead, creative decision-making
- setting priorities within & among customers, features, user task
- act more as a partner when you work through this process rather than just pumping out results
Rapid, Adaptive Development
- agile process (Highsmith, Cockburn)
- requirements largely speculative
- use prototypes, collaborative design
- rapid revision, quick feedback tests
Minimize organizational friction; build projects in such a way that time is limited (a “time box”) and drives change – used extensively at LexisNexis now – a lot of info in Nick Kizirnis’ book
- establish delivery cycles and timeboxes in each
- deliver once a month
- Developers meet once a day face to face
- Customers once a week face to face
- Since users/clients/stakeholders will change their minds anyway, welcome change – tell them they can change their minds during the process
- If you are collaborating, no real surprises should occur
- Leverage your priorities to manage scope
- Continuous development – portal is a lower risk environment
User Experience and Information Architecture
Information Architecture methods
- when people are putting together requirements, wish list, have them put labels on things. Helps to group data together quickly; could be an early basis for a taxonomy
See also: Information Architecture Institute – may have Jeff Vean’s spreadsheet
Site Design Lessons from Nielsen
Taxonomies can be difficult for end users, and can be counterproductive. Keep the top level of a taxonomy 12 to 20 items. Any more than 3 levels of depth, people may get lost. People who don’t know the domain/subject area will want to search. After the search, use the taxonomy to categorize the results; i.e. better to use the taxonomy behind the scenes. Relevancy ranking by search tools out of the box is very poor. Creating good relevancy ranking is a lot of work. Content creators are not good at tagging data.
Not all portals have a single home page – unified by common navigation, not home page – good approach for integrating divergent content
Good portal design is efficient, not fancy – busy users prefer to get their jobs done quickly; keep it minimal but develop a strong internal brand
Portal design reflects corporate culture
Thomas Vanderwaal – coined phrase “folksonomy” – users create their own tagging from bottom up; however, speakers recommend some overall general tagging to give it some structure
Don’t force portal IA to reflect departmental structures; however, how to determine functions?
Internationalization must work globally, not just locally – a major challenge and time consuming
Information standards are more challenging than design and layout standards – because portals templates set your designs in stone; but content fluctuates wildly
Process: have a specialist editor in each content area submit information to the portal
Enterprise search – metadata pulled from the content from all the applications – takes at least a full-time editor to manage it. A lot of work.
Summary from the group exercise:
- a lot of clients don’t know what they want – a big challenge
- what customers say they want are the features e.g. single sign-on, searching,
Instead, I'm going to give a few general impressions for you and, time permitting, post some notes from what I've attended thus far.
Right now I am sitting in the "wireless web" area outside of the conference rooms. It really is too bad there isn't live web inside the rooms. The other thing at a premium is power. Few rooms have any extra electrical outlets, so there is a subtle competition going on between people who need power. Between sessions it is funny to see people gathered around electrical outlets in the hallway. Chairs have migrated, clustered around the outlets, so at least people aren't sitting on the floor as they were yesterday.
The other great resource we could use more of is water. Coffee flows in abundance (we are on the west coast, after all), but water is a little harder to come by. I missed the great Dasani handout a few minutes ago, thinking there would be lots to go around. Dasani has sold out of the vending machine, as have all the diet drinks. Well, I'm not so big on Dasani anyway. Lots of regular Coke and orange soda left, though. The one water cooler is almost dry. Soon I will have to resort to sucking it down from the taps in the washroom...I guess this is perhaps the greatest indication that we are anywhere near the desert.
I chose my session yesterday afternoon, on web content managers (WCM or web CMS)based on the speaker, Tony Byrne who publishes CMS Watch and CMS Report. I was not disappointed: he has turned out to be very knowledgable and helpful. Moreover, our keynote speaker this morning picked out a few people present, and he mentioned that Tony is "probably the coolest person here". I wasn't surprised when I heard that, since I saw him arrive this morning with an entourage of six groupies, and lots of people stopping to speak with him.
I'm impressed with the turn out here. Approximately 600 delegates, buyers, vendors, and developers. I don't think that includes vendors who will be staffing the tradeshow starting this evening. People from all different organizations (many very very large), all different types of positions, and from many different countries. Everyone is here on a different agenda, and everyone has an interesting story to share. My mandate is primarily to network. Network with other "buyers" who have been through what we want to do and get the inside scoop from them, as well as network with "vendors" to find out what their products can do as a comparison for what we want to do in our firm. But of course the student in me loves attending the sessions.
For anyone who hasn't been able to make it, and won't glean enough from this blog (since I'm only going to manage getting to a fraction of the sessions, since there are least 5 different program streams), Digital Record will be selling the conference afterward for $295 USD. For those of us here, it is available for $129 USD. For me it might be worth picking up just so I can supplement what I was able to attend, and also learn from later as we go through various stages of our projects.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I am in San Jose for the KM World and Intranets 2005 conference. Today are the pre-conference workshops, and the conference starts up tomorrow. It is exciting to me because of the interaction with people from all different types of organizations and in various positions, converging from across North America and even around the world. I've been taking a few photos and lots of notes, so check back here as I capture my little piece of experience. I'm not sure who else is here blogging, but I did see a fellow with full-on video camera so perhaps some vlogging will occur.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I've been a member of Bookcrossing for over a year now. Although I haven't had time to be very active in releasing or catching books lately, I have done a little and managed to connect somewhat with a few people. I think this would be a fun event and will try to attend.