Background: Leopold McGinnis is the Senior eCommunications Advisor for ATCO Gas. He is responsible for the strategic planning, maintenance and development of the company intranet.
Question: What are some of the highlights of working on your intranet?
Leopold: In the past year I’ve been responsible for rebuilding two intranets for ATCO Gas and Electric, so it has been an excellent opportunity to position ourselves for future enhancements. It was a really great (and rare) opportunity to connect and collaborate with representatives across the company who care about internal knowledge transfer and communicating. I find working on intranets, particularly with rebuilds or starting new sites, is always more about educating than anything else. Our team has to do a lot of work trying to tease out hidden and underlying requirements, understanding processes and culture that could impact design direction and management practices. People often don’t realize the potential value of their intranets. Off hand, it’s just a big electronic document. And if it works well, it’s really easy to think of that way – it’s just an intranet. But when you want to rebuild one you suddenly realize what a sticky mess it all is.
When you start working with stakeholders and helping them understand how complex and important their intranet already is – and how complex and potentially valuable it could be – it’s an eye-opening moment and kind of rewarding once you’re all on the same page. But getting there can be a challenge! Alternatively, as web experts we really understand what a web site can deliver, how to best set them up, and all the potential road blocks. But building ‘a great intranet’ is fundamentally dependent on organizational culture and process. We don’t have that insight, so it’s really nice when you and the stakeholders start meeting in the middle. They start understanding how intranets and information works, and we’re understanding how their process, content and organization works.
Question: What are some of the opportunities you see for the future?
Leopold: There’s always a million avenues to go down. That’s what I love about this field…it’s really an opportunity to creatively solve problems, but picking which one can be challenging. The future always depends on how you are positioned. Where do you want to go long term, and where are you now? Based on that, what is the next one or two steps? We spent a lot of the last year really building that connection with the rest of the organization, establishing a governance, a stakeholder committee and a solid, extensible information architecture. The intranet is a central information and communication hub for everything an organization does. You can kind of think of it like a train station. We’ve added a lot of new terminals, some stores and a bunch of cushy seats…now we really want to get more people coming through and recognizing potential so they can help us drive it where they want it to go.
If you would like to hear more on what Leopold has to say about intranets, register for our Better Intranets conference on June 12. Tickets are available by clicking here.