Building an Intranet that Delivers

This article was co-written with Belinda Thompson of BDO Kendalls. At the time of writing, Belinda was Senior Consultant in Intellectual Capital with BDO Kendalls in Brisbane, Australia. The article was published on CEO Online. Belinda’s passion is in the implementation of corporate intranets that achieve business value from the knowledge management initiatives intranets offer.

Belinda is now BDO’s National Knowledge and Information Manager.

This article presents six strategies for successful intranets.

Building an intranet that delivers
Six strategies for successful intranets


Stay calm and serene with your intranetIn recent years, corporate intranets have moved from “nice to have” to “must have” status in virtually all industries. In many cases, they have evolved into information and knowledge sharing platforms that companies rely on to survive in a knowledge-driven economy. Designing, developing, and deploying an intranet that is highly valued by the organisation can be a challenge. Nevertheless, certain strategies, when carefully executed, can simplify this process.

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Knowledge Management Forum: Blogs and Wikis and Modern Organisations

Tomorrow night I am presenting to the Queensland Knowledge Management Forum on the role of Blogs and Wikis in Modern Organisations, as organised by Belinda Thompson:

Session 2 / 2006

Date: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 3.00 to 4.30pm

Topics: Social Software: What does it mean for enterprise knowledge management systems?

Where: HSBC Building, Level 18, 300 Queen Street, Brisbane

Presenter 1: Belinda Thompson, National Knowledge & Information Manager BDO

Session Overview: Belinda Thompson will discuss three social software tools introduced within the Department of Education & Arts. This presentation was delivered to the ACT KM Conference in 2005.

Presenter 2: Micheal Axelsen (Director, Information Systems Consulting)

Session Overview: Micheal Axelsen will be discussing Blogs and Wikis and their place in modern organisations.

Presenter 3: Forum Members

Group Discussion:

What place does social software have within a KM strategy? What tools are the most effective at facilitating knowledge sharing? Should social software tools be embraced or run away from?

Showdown: Wikipedia vs Britannica

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Knowledge is of two kinds, you either know it or you can find it on Wikipedia. This article discusses a study by Nature that took scientific, complex articles from both Britannica and Wikipedia and had them reviewed by experts. The result? Wikipedia and Britannica are reasonably close – the surprising thing is, they both had four “major” errors in 42 articles. Not a good hit rate for Britannica!

This is of course in sharp contrast with the recent kerfuffle over Wikipedia’s accuracy and peer review process.

Australian Accounting Review Supplement

The Australian Accounting Review (Supplement #37, November 2005) issue devoted to information technology/systems issues was released in November. I reproduce a small portion of the supplementary edition editorial (which was co-written by John Campbell, Shauna Kelly, and myself – but mostly John) below:

The traditional objective of accounting is to provide information about the pecuniary affairs of an organisation. While this is largely a historical activity that focuses on past performance, the information that accounting provides also forms a useful basis for future action. In this historical context, information technology is commonly viewed as providing a productivity-enhancing and cost-effective means of storing and monitoring transactions, standardising fundamental accounting operations and facilitating compliance and financial reporting obligations. Information technology has reduced the cost of these traditional accounting functions by facilitating the processing and monitoring of large amounts of information about organisational performance. Despite the accretion of these and other benefits to the profession in general, there still exists a degree of uncertainty about the role of accounting professionals in the selection, use and management of information technology in organisations.

The papers in this special Australian Accounting Review supplement address important aspects of information technology that are of relevance to accounting practitioners and researchers. The supplement has been commissioned by CPA Australia’s Centre of Excellence for Information Technology and Management.*

The call for papers for this special edition attracted a large number of high-quality submissions, making the final selection process difficult. All research papers were peer-reviewed and carefully scrutinised by the Centre of Excellence to ensure that those selected for publication reflect the diversity of information technology issues relevant to the profession. The papers that follow deal with a broad range of topics, from discussion and research on IT governance, the impact of IT on business models, electronic business evaluation and adoption, information systems audit and control, IT investment decision-making and strategic planning in government agencies.

You can access this online through CPA Australia, or sometimes authors will provide copies upon request.

Feature articles from the November 2005 edition of Australian Accounting Review (Supplement #37 only) include:

Editorial: information technology – impacts and implications for accounting
Editorial for edition 37 of the Australian Accounting Review information technology supplement.

IT governance – are boards and business executives interested onlookers or committed participants?
This paper looks at what has to be governed and what IT governance needs to encompass to be effective, examines some of the issues of current IT governance practices from boardroom and business perspectives.

IT investment practices in large Australian firms
This review explores the procedures used by large Australian firms during the four major decisionmaking stages of the IT investment cycle: planning, evaluation, implementation and postimplementation review.

The social dimension of business and IS/IT alignment: case studies of six public-sector organisations
This paper presents the results of a study of the social dimension of the alignment of business strategy with information systems and information technology.

The pervasiveness of information and communication technology: its effects on business models and implications for the accounting profession
This paper discusses the main challenge that confronts firms because of the continued development in information and communication technologies (ICT) is the reduction in information asymmetry as product markets become increasingly information driven.

Consideration of options from an entrepreneuria, technical and operational perspective – an e-business design framework approach
This paper draws upon the emergent knowledge of e-business, together with traditional strategy theory, and provide a simple framework for the evaluation of business models for e-business.

The effect of e-commerce adoption on small/medium enterprise industry structure, competitive advantage and long-term profitability
This paper seeks to evaluate the relationship between e-commerce adoption and long-term profitability in small/medium enterprises (SMEs).

Information systems audit and control issues for enterprise management systems: qualitative evidence
This paper presents the results of a study on how the introduction of such software creates a new set of information systems audit and control problems.

Supplement on information technology
This issue of Australian Accounting Review is accompanied by a special supplement dedicated to new research work on Information Technology and Management.

Enterprise resource planning systems – implications for managers and management
This paper analyses the implications of enterprise resource planning systems for organisations in general and for managers and professionals in particular.

Feel free to email me if you you need details – these articles can usually be purchased through CPA Australia if you are not a subscriber.

Desktop Search Tools

One of the fascinating new tools that have come to the fore over the past several years is an array of tools to assist you to retrieve the work you have already done – the work that is currently sitting in what could loosely be termed your knowledge library (if you’re not well-organised).

These tools include things such as Google Desktop Search (which is just out of beta), the MSN Search Toolbar, Yahoo Desktop Search, X1, and the Copernic Desktop Search. I have done a lot of research since this tool was mentioned at the IT Management Day (I chaired the day in Brisbane, at least partly because I chair the COE – oh, and I happen to live in Brisbane, so that may have helped) by Rob Roe of KAZ Technologies, and from the reviews I have read on the internet and my own experience, I think Copernic is a winner.

X1 costs – and since I am an accountant (there is a time-delay lock on my wallet), and the other tools are free and of great quality, it was never going to get a look in.

The MSN Search toolbar – well, apparently it doesn’t play nice with Mozilla Firefox (my preferred browser). It’s also from Microsoft (I like a lot of Microsoft products – they often just work without ten years geek experience), but the tendency I have seen is to bloatware and security issues. I was unable to confirm this, however, because the real killer for this product is it needs Windows XP to run, and like 40% or so of the business world, I still run Windows 2000 on my laptop.

The Yahoo search bar remains way too close to the beta program for me, so I didn’t really look at it too much. From reviews I’ve read, it seems to be a bit of a resource hog when indexing (even when you’re working).

Normally, Google would have been my tool of choice (what can I say – I already have one new verb “to Google”, meaning to thrash about and find stuff), but although it had a nice and simple interface, and the results were available in a browser, the Google tool is pretty much brain-dead in indexing just my local hard drive. There is a plug-in (too close to the old word, “hack”, for me) to search network drives, but it’s primogeniture is a little hard to determine and it comes with now arranties. Besides, this tool is only just out of beta.

Feeling a bit frantic, I downloaded and installed the Copernic deskbar, and it works for me. Although it doesn’t work with Groupwise (our email system of choice), that’s probably not a problem since neither do any of the other tools . Copernic works with network drives out of the box, it has a nice taskbar search tool, and the background indexing is nice and unobtrusive. I don’t understand why these other tools work only on the local hard drive – beyond the few script kiddies out there and consultants that work alone, it isn’t good practice to have valuable documents sitting on C:.

Some problems I did have with Copernic were when I tried to run it with Groupwise (I have Outlooked installed, so it tried to index Groupwise with somewhat disastrous results – the indexing essentially kept freezing my computer). It isn’t rated for Groupwise, so that’s probably not a surprise.

Also, I found that when I had the preview pane on, a couple of spreadsheets (I think with macros in them perhaps) caused a lovely blue screen of death – so I turned that off. I do suspect that may be a Novell incompatibility.

Finally, because the taskbar takes up some acreage, I decided to turn that off. Which I did. When I went to turn it back on – no luck. I racked my brains about it for 20 minutes how to resolve it and then decided the simple approach was best – I uninstalled the thing and re-installed, and then allowed it to reindex it. It took about half an hour of my life – and I won’t try turning off the taskbar again. The reindexing was unobtrusive (and continues to be) and I have 12,775 documents indexed fairly quickly, I thought, while I zapped out for a coffee.

So in summary, I am using Copernic on my laptop, and I have been very impressed so far (speed is excellent!). A side benefit is that if you show results by date, you can quickly see those files you have been working on recently (presuming, of course, the documents you have indexed are your documents – this will depend on how you work with a team). A tool like this raises issues for IT Governance, desktop stability, and IT installation policies, but that’s a topic for a different post.