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Intranet Challenges Part 1 – Battle of the Content Owners

Date Posted: Friday, 15 November 2013 17:38
Posted By: Implementation Staff

As intranet technology has developed, so too have the politics surrounding it, especially with regard to the content that’s developed for company websites and intranets. There is much debate surrounding this, should the content belong to marketing? Or perhaps HR or the IT department?


It seems that many companies just don’t know the right answer to this and this is for the most part due to the lack of producing a clearly defined strategy when it comes to governance, ownership and structure.

So planning is key; by creating clear guidelines with regard to ownership, this could address certain aspects of the site, or how to go about implementing workflows and approval processes. At this stage, it’s also a very good idea to think about people, both within the organisation itself and outside agencies such as content providers, designers and so on.


According to the Intranet 2.0 Global Survey, just 47% of organisations around the world have a clearly defined governance model and we’re talking the big boys here mostly, not just SMEs. By not having this, it’s certain to harm your intranet strategy in some way, so this is why planning is necessary (preferably before implementation).

“If you don’t have structure, you’re going to constantly run into politics,” said Terry Lister, Partner and Leader of IBM Canada’s Business Consulting Services.

“Without a governance structure with standards, different silos try to do something in parallel (their own thing) and it costs more… and will lessen the user experience.”

Intranet governance can then take various forms, such as:

  • No single owner
  • One department owns all
  • Collaborative ownership
  • Hybrid – a mix of all of the above


[Image source: Prescient Digital

The growing use of collaboration

As we have discussed on this blog in the past, collaboration in whatever form it takes, is powerful and productive. When it comes to intranet ownership, this means that ownership can be spread across the intranet by representing departments such as IT, HR and so on. Hybrid governance is very similar in approach too. However, central to all of this should be how managers deal with content owners as people.

These content owners can then develop collaborative relationships and by concentrating some efforts of becoming a people-centric organisation, you can engage content owners and allow for them to be a part of the team, as a whole.

Intranet community managers

For all of the different departments that produce content, a community manager can oversee various departments within the organisation and ensure that collaborative workspaces can be properly managed and content owners kept happy.

You can create project groups and again, this should be carried out before implementation of the intranet in order to establish a sense of value and trust for the content owners and community manager(s).


When you’re developing your strategy then, get the relevant content owners involved; this can be done in a variety of ways and should aim to achieve contributors actually wanting to manage the content themselves, therefore doing away with the need for stakeholder involvement.

Think about:

  • Implementing training platforms to establish goals and the overall vision
  • Workshops
  • Intranet training – again this can be carried out on an e-learning platform so that valuable time and resources are not over-worked
  • How remote team workers can be involved

The latter suggestion has been enabled by technology so well over the past few years that it really shouldn’t be a problem. Think unified communications, video conferencing, remote access to group workspaces, that kind of thing.

It’s all about the people

Whilst of course it’s all about having a final decision maker in place right at the start of implementing the intranet and how content will be managed and owned, getting it right with the people you employ and partner with is key to success.

Final decisions should give some thought to the following:

  • Different sections of the site having different ownerships
  • How to go about workflow and approval processes
  • Being people centric
  • Creating an agile and flexible intranet
  • The role of the social intranet

So, to break this down a little, IT could own a portion of the site depending on the role they play in producing content, as can marketing, HR and other contributors. Workflows and approvals can be overseen by managers, who are in turn overseen by community managers.

We keep coming back to being people centric too and this is because in order to get the very best out of your intranet, website and content, then you want the content creators, owners and contributors to feel that they have some power over how their content is used.

This means giving them a voice and allowing them to feel like they are a valuable member of the overall organisation or even department, therefore upping their will to manage content and to contribute in such a way as to feel that they are valued and trusted.

Reducing political conflict within the organisation

Again, it’s all in the planning. If the stakeholders and other relevant parties decide right from the start how the intranet is going to be governed, then it will be much less likely to become a problem in the future.

Segmenting ownership is a good idea as it gives more control at a departmental level and this again empowers that particular department and those that work within it. When it comes to collaboration across different departments, this will have to be defined at the start also, or bickering could occur.

The modern world has changed beyond all recognition in recent years and it’s likely to continue doing so as enterprises begin to wake up to the very real benefits of empowering employees.

When it comes to content ownership, this is no different, getting it right is all about planning, involving key people within the organisation from the start and ensuring that intranet testing and employee surveys are carried out in order to give them a chance to have their opinions taken on board.

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