How Intranet Governance Helped Ericsson

When the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson decided to improve their intranet, one of the key aspects was governance. At Intranätverk 2014, Annika Appeltofft spoke about the challenging journey as well as how governance proved to be extremely valuable for Ericsson while making the transition.

Ericsson is a well-known company around the globe that has been around for more than 100 years. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of information and communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to their customers in approximately 180 countries. To be able to meet the customer’s needs, Ericsson has a large organization spread out over several different areas. And because of that, you probably understand the difficulties when trying to make an intranet that fulfills everyone’s needs.

Annika Appeltofft from Ericsson presenting "How Intranet Governance Helped Ericsson" at Intranätverk 2014

Annika Appeltofft, director of internal communications, explains that the intranet is a pretty wide definition for Ericsson, and they have therefore divided it in to three parts. The global entry point for all of the employees is to access the managed content such as strategies, processes and tools, as well as news and specific unit information. During her presentation at Intranätverk 2014, Annika chose to focus on this part, leaving out the parts concerning collaboration and search on the intranet.

The journey

Although Annika wasn’t a part of the project from the beginning, she has good insight in all of the processes leading up to the improved intranet. The journey started in 2010, and the situation at Ericsson then was that the intranet was built up in many large silos all over the globe with a huge amount of information. A lot of the content was sender-oriented and Annika explains that it often felt that people wanted to tell their specific story when uploading something to the intranet. Therefore, it was very difficult for the target audiences to find the information they were looking for. The tool Ericsson had at that time was difficult to work with, which made it hard to update information. In addition, it was filled with banners and links going in circles. According to Annika, it was not at all in line with how the company wanted to work and the situation was quite troubling at the time. A pre-study also showed that about 60 percent couldn’t find what they were looking for and 42 percent had no trust in the information published on the intranet.

Changes needed to be done

The actual project began in 2012 with making an outline of how the company wanted the governance framework. Ericsson also had a change driver that was responsible for implementing the change. In 2013, Annika joined the project, and at the time the transition was already ongoing with a lot of implementations in place. During this year, the company established most of the bulk of the governance and created a web manager as one of the job roles within the organization.

As mentioned before, Ericsson had several issues with the sender-oriented content, which made it hard to find appropriate information. To solve this problem, they wanted to make the intranet more personal with information targeted to specific audiences. In order to make that happen, changes needed to be done in many processes, which required a governance model that worked. The intranet governance model had to be:

  • Independent to make organizing efficient within the different departments.
  • Scalable so that it’s possible to use within both smaller and larger units.
  • Flexible so that employees can have different roles and still be able to work within the framework.

The organization

Since the establishment of the improved intranet, Ericsson has made some changes regarding the organizational structure. The core of the machinery is the global web manager who has regular contact with the development team. The global web manager picks up the needs from the employees through the web managers, content owners as well as the web editors. At the top of the pyramid sits the intranet board, consisting of leaders within the different regions, and at a lower level there’s a board for the managed content. But according to Annika, the two groups that have made the biggest impact during the project are the web manager’s forum as well as the core workgroup. The web manager’s forum gathers all the web managers once a month to discuss the most important issues. The core workgroup meets more frequently focusing on “day-to-day” problems. Annika explains that these two compliment each other in a good way.

Functionality vs. intranet governance

According to Annika, a whole lot of time is often put on functionality issues, but that’s not necessary what makes the difference in the end. Instead, more energy should be focused on governance of the intranet – how we work with content owners, web editors etc. Through good governance it’s possible to provide correct and trustworthy information, and in the end make the intranet more compact by deleting unnecessary things. This will benefit the employees in the search for relevant information and, further on, be a huge time- and money saver.