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March 1, 2012 / Ellen van Aken

It is time for intranet spring-cleaning!

SpringcleaningPerhaps some of you are doing a regular spring cleaning in your home. But it is also useful to regularly clean up your intranet, especially if there are no plans for a platform upgrade or a merger with another intranet. (A content purge is usually included in upgrade or merger plans). How much dust have your documents collected? How many contributors have left the company? How many Team Sites have been left unattended? All this unmanaged content keeps showing up in search results and taking up disk space. And remember, the usability of your intranet decreases with increasing amount of content!

Is it not the content owner’s role to manage their content?
There are organizations that leave content purging entirely to their content owners. And that is also their responsibility, of course, especially since they themselves have helped expand the content in the first place.
In practice, however, you can not always rely on your content managers, and that is not always their fault.  There are several possible reasons:

  • The group administrator does not have time to screen content or accounts
  • The publisher is afraid to remove content because he/she does not know whether this has to be kept for legal or other reasons
  • The Team Site Owner does not know which team members have left or changed jobs
  • The wiki-owner has left the organization without appointing a new owner
  • Participants in a group or Team Site have changed jobs and their accounts have not been removed from the content or deleted from the organization’s administration
  •  The project has finished, the project team disbanded, and nobody feels responsible for the content generated

You may expect from your children that they put away their toys after playing with them,  but you cannot demand they will clean or mend their toys. That will be the parent’s task. Similarly, some tasks simply have to be done by an intranet team. Because the intranet team usually has a good overview of the total amount of content, they often have more rights to do things on a central level,  and they always have the final responsibility!

Why should I worry about old content?

  •  A large amount of outdated content in search results not only gives a bad impression of the overall quality of your intranet, but can also lead to incorrect conclusions when they are based on outdated information
  • People whose role has changed, but who still have access to confidential content, are a risk
  • Systems can be slow if many data are to be searched
  • A negative perception of quality and security does not only backfire to the managers of content, groups and sites, but especially to the intranet team. Remember, it is easier to blame “the intranet”  than to own up to your own shortcomings in content management.
  • Old content and accounts provide biased accounts statistics.
  • If you have a large amount of content and data, you will need a large volume of disk space and time for backups

Must I really do everything myself?
No, you should leave some things to the content owner, such as

  • Group and user management
  • Reviewing and removing the actual information, documents, discussions, visuals and so on.

But it IS your job to remind the owners of their responsibilities on a regular basis.

How do I do a good spring cleaning?
That will be my next post!

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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