Learn how to de-clutter and refine your existing bank of content with our first in-depth look at applying lean manufacturing tactics to your intranet content strategy:
Idea in brief: Removing useless content from your intranet will improve its value and reduce wasted time.
It's an intranet's job to protect its users' valuable content. But much of that information is out of date, clogging search results and wasting your company's time. In this post we’ll examine some approaches to assessing the content on your intranet and eliminating it.
Your useless, unwanted content is sabotaging your intranet
In a recent content inventory for one of our larger clients, we discovered that of the 216,000 pages on their existing intranet, less than 4% had been modified in the past 2 years. Another client’s intranet consisted of 113,000 pages, of which 60% hadn’t been modified within the past 3 years.
Some of that content, certainly, is evergreen content that doesn’t need to change. But most of it needs significant revision, review or even archiving.
How can you determine if your intranet is full of useless content?
If you’re suspicious that you might have some rotten content on your intranet, here are a few quick indicators that you might need to do some culling:
- Users have stopped searching – has the number of searches on your intranet dropped over the past couple of years? This could be an indicator that users aren’t trusting or valuing the search results that are returned
- Users report that search “doesn’t work” – are you hearing anecdotes or complaints about search returning old, useless content? This is a pretty good indicator that your content isn’t as fresh as users expect
- Your content has old last modified dates – when was the bulk of your content last modified? A quick analysis of all the last modified dates of your intranet content will let you know how fresh your content is
- See below for a worksheet you can use.
You can identify and get rid of your unused content pretty easily.
Ok, so if you suspect or have confirmed that your intranet is full of outdated content, what should you do about it? Here are three approaches that we take with our clients to assess their content and identify the next steps with anything that appears problematic.
Perform a ROT assessment
A ROT assessment is an activity that identifies redundant, outdated and trivial content. They’re pretty lengthy, boring exercises with some big pay-offs in the end.
A ROT assessment typically results in the identification of about 40% of the existing intranet content that should be deleted. For those of you preparing to migrate to a new platform, this can save you LOADS of time. And for those of you looking to crank up the relevancy of your intranet’s good content, the deletion of ROTten content can improve your search results dramatically and instantly.
Here’s how to do a ROT assessment:
- Collect a list of links to all pages on the intranet
- Start clicking
- As each page loads, determine three pieces of information:
- The current state
- The action needed
- The priority this action should be given
It should take you about an hour for every hundred pages, but once you’re done, you’ll have an idea of where your content is ROTten, who’s responsible for that content, and how urgently you need to fix it.
Here’s a sample summary that we made based on this idea.
Finding the time to do a ROT assessment
If your intranet has thousands of pages, the idea of visiting every one to assess its value is not daunting: it’s impossible. When Nonlinear faces a giant intranet, we’ll do a content audit on a specific percentage of the content. The goal of this activity is to create an overall score for the entire intranet, identify any potentially ROTten areas to focus on and to do it quickly.
Here’s the content audit process we follow:
- Collect a list of all pages on the intranet
- Identify how much time you have to spend
- Estimate that each page will take you about 1-3 minutes to review
- Figure out how many pages you can assess within the time you have
- Calculate the percentage of pages you’ll visit
- Identify those pages, ensuring you’re including pages from the entire breadth and depth of your intranet
- Assess them using the criteria below
- Roll them up into a report and use it to justify spending additional time investigating those areas that seem to need attention
Criteria for audit
We assess the content during an audit using three criteria on a scale from 0 to 3. The content type is captured as well, to help reviewers understand what types of content need the most help.
- Relevance – How relevant is the content to its position in the hierarchy? To its title?
- Currency – How current is the content? Is it on a topic from years ago? Is it relevant to today’s work context?
- Quality – How good is this content? Is it well laid out? Well written?
Here’s an example chart. It’s telling us that the currency and relevancy of most of the content on the intranet is ok. What really needs some attention is the quality of the content.
This approach can help you find the areas of the intranet that need the most help, and if they’re critical areas, it’ll help you motivate getting some time spent on cleaning out the content.
Get rid of that content
Most of our clients don’t have defined retention plans for their intranet content. Without an approved file plan, you really shouldn’t destroy anything. Before you make any changes to the content, archive the intranet to an offline storage resource. This will serve as a backup in case you delete anything you shouldn’t have.
Next step is to define some rules for what content you’re going to remove and archive from the intranet. Through the ROT assessment and the content audit activities, you’ll have gotten a feel for what characteristics indicate that content should be removed. It may be last modified date, file size or even content author. As a first step, you can perform these actions manually. As a second, longer term step, you should create automatic rules to remove and archive on a scheduled basis. (If you’re using a modern intranet platform, this should be straightforward.)
Improve the remaining content
If you can’t get rid of the content that you’ve found that’s problematic, improve it. You can read more about this in our upcoming post, Support the creation of better content.
Download our worksheet
Getting a handle on whether your content is old is pretty straightforward. You’ll need an excel file that lists all your page names, their location and their last modified date to get started and then you need to capture the additional info. We’ve provided a worksheet to help you get started with both ROT assessments and content audits.
Once we’re done, we produce infographics for our clients’ consumption. You can see one of our content analysis infographics here.
Interested in learning more?
We're working with clients every day to find new ways they can produce more value with less. Check out the rest of the series for a deeper look into each principle: