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PracticeByte - Intranet / Portal Content - Use a Business and Cost Matrix to Prioritize Content and Develop an Effective Linking Strategy

Analyst: Nicolas Bürki
Issue: How to prioritize content and determine where to link it on an Intranet or portal?
Intranet and portal steering committees face a multitude of challenges when it comes to making decisions about online content. First of all, they must determine which content to provide. Then, they need to develop a linking strategy and establish taxonomy-system of categorization.
The Cost and Business Matrix can help committees prioritize, while at the same time serving as a guide for assessing and optimizing links from home and sub-home pages to content across their Intranet/portals.
This can be especially valuable for organizations standardizing their corporate-wide intranets or redesigning or establishing new Intranet/portals.
It can be a costly mistake-both in terms of expense and lost business efficiency-for steering committees to automatically migrate existing content to new Intranets/portals. Rather, a committee should analyze the total cost of content versus the delivered business value prior to online publication.
One proven approach to determining the real value of online content is to use our Cost and Business Assessment Matrix. This matrix helps committee members determine the:
1. Total cost, including fees for initial development, whether that means generating totally new content or adapting existing offline resources to conform to online models. Additionally, the committee needs to calculate costs related to ongoing content maintenance, which might include updating and, if applicable, translation service.
Business value. The important factors in determining real business value are "Reuse" (frequency of access in a given period of time) and "Business Efficiency Increase" (the real value to employees in helping them increase efficiency).
As you can see below, it is not necessary to calculate the exact costs in dollars/euros but simply to estimate the appropriate values, which can be expressed as low, medium or high. When steering committee members come to consensus about the appropriate values for these terms they are, in effect, imbuing them with those quantitative values. This approach results in a quantitative measure that allows a committee to prioritize content categories.
Content Type Development cost Maintenance Cost / Udpate Frequency Reuse Factor Business Efficiency Increase
Business Unit Information Low Low Low Low
Company Directory Medium High High High
Company Templates Low Low High High

Once you agree upon the meaning of qualitative terms like "low", "medium" and "high", you can give the terms numerical values ranging from 1 to 3, then add the values of individual cost factors and compare the result to the result of the multiplication of the Reuse Factor and the Business Efficiency Increase. The steering committee should look very closely at content categories with high Reuse Factors. Those are the content categories that can deliver the highest business value, even when their individual increases of business efficiency are medium or even low.

Along with helping you decide which content to publish, this matrix helps you determine whether or not content categories or specific content pieces should be directly linked from the home page (see, PracticeByte "Common Mistakes - Home Page Design"). For example, the steering committee should strongly consider linking highly reusable content directly from the home page.
This might include categories such as company templates and forms or specific content pieces such as employee directories. The steering committee can then apply the matrix to sub-home pages. This process can be especially valuable to companies that use link categories on home pages, because it helps them to determine order within link categories; they are able to place highly accessed or strong business-related links at the beginning of category links.
The matrix allows steering committees to drill down still further, by applying the assessment to such content types as forms for various departments, business units or regions. And companies that deploy their Intranets/portals in multiple languages can add "translation cost" as an additional criterion, giving them an accurate assessment of maintenance costs and related translation costs balanced against the Reuse Factor and Business Efficiency Increase. Based on the results of the assessment, companies may decide only to translate some selected content. (For more information, see PracticeByte "Global Multilingual Intranet - You Don't Need to Translate Everything, But Stay Consistent.")
Effective use of a Business and Cost Matrix can provide clear competitive advantage as companies develop Intranet/portal strategy; it allows you to make the best use of your content development funds to create real increases in business efficiency.
Learn how we assisted leading companies in building effective Intranets and Employee Portals.