Intranet Ownership Models
Of course, “ownership” in this context transcends the typical consumerist definition. For a hospital intranet, ownership relates to its governance and to who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that it realizes that potential and value. This typically introduces debates about who wants to own it, which logically leads directly to IT.
“A lot of IT departments will want to own a hospital intranet since they will most likely have to build it and support it, including specific applications,” said AVID Design Director of Web Development Andy Darnell. “For instance, some of our clients have nearly 300 separate applications on their hospital intranet, which includes everything from the ability to page a doctor directly from an intranet page to scheduling to human resources, which has hundreds of forms, reviews and other documents that can be looked up and filled out online.”
However, does that mean IT is the best choice for hospital intranet ownership? What other departments might be better candidates? What are the criteria for making the determination?
The Politics of Hospital Intranet Ownership
Hospitals and healthcare systems may provide a unique and essential service to their communities, but once the focus pulls away from the operating rooms, exam rooms and clinics, a hospital’s administration is not too dissimilar from most other corporate-structured entities—which implicitly means being regulated by politics. Thus, the politics of hospital intranet ownership is a concept that must be carefully weighed.
If there’s any doubt of the veracity of intranet politics, they can be laid to rest by Toby Ward’sThe Politics of Intranet Ownership
examination of a study of more than 500 intranet managers, which found politics to be one of the top issues faced by intranet managers. According to Ward, insufficient control and ownership of the intranet was cited by 46 percent of managers, and 43 percent of respondents cited politics as the top issue.
But how can a hospital effectively select the right intranet leadership without stepping on toes, hurting feelings, or anything else that can disrupt the political harmony at a hospital?
Hospital Intranet Steering Committees: Anarchy or Democracy?
According to AVID Design Executive Officer Tom Brand, there are two approaches to determining intranet ownership that also fulfills a need for leadership: the anarchy approach and the democracy approach. The latter is the ideal, but potentially at the risk of creating an environment for the former.
“When it comes to an intranet, everybody should own it,” said Brand. “A successful deployment is when it’s used by multiple members of multiple departments.”
However, the challenges—and conflicts—arise when there are deviations to intranet consistency and no guidelines to prevent them.
“You want to give enough access to use the tool so that individual departments use it, however you want to be able to have some consistency so that individual departments don’t deviate from the navigation structure,” said Brand. “The guidelines need to be broad enough to allow for extra content if a department needs more, but it also needs to minimal enough so that each department has core content.”
Those guidelines are naturally a key function of a hospital intranet governance—assuming there is a governance. According to Ward, only 47 percent of surveyed organizations have a defined governance model, which he categorized in four models:
- Centralized (via a single owner or department)
- Collaborative (shared ownership via committee)
- Hybrid, centralized (single owner, with collaborative accountability, decentralized content ownership)
Intranet strategist and trend analyst Jane McConnell
proposed a remarkably similar model that identified five dominant intranet ownership models:
- Single owner
- Multiple stakeholders
- Triangle: Defined by McConnell as “two owners with one major stakeholder”
- Informal committee
Both Ward and McConnell’s analyses of their models support Brand’s opinion about the efficiency and effectiveness of a steering committee.
“The most common governance model in recent years, in medium to large-size organizations, has been the collaborative model,” said Ward. “The collaborative model is most often focused on a cross-representative steering committee representing the major functional stakeholders.”
McConnell said the triangle model “tends to bring fast-moving results because there is a strong sense of delivering to internal customers, who in turn put pressure on the intranet team and compete for attention and resources.”
If intranet experts generally agree that a multi-departmental steering is the best form of ownership, which departments should be considered?
Hospital Intranet Stakeholders
Any number and combination of hospital departments can—and should—be involved in driving their hospital’s intranet steering committee.
Web content and intranet strategist James Robertson
identified four preferred intranet owners and their advantages and disadvantages:
- IT: Traditionally the most common intranet owner, demands for stronger content creation, have increasingly moved ownership away to more qualified departments.
- Communications: Although perhaps best positioned to decrease an intranet’s thirst for content, Robertson said, “Communications groups may not be ideally positioned to further develop the intranet as a ‘business tool.’”
- Human resources: HR is typically the most prolific intranet publisher. However, Robertson believes that that HR content is not typically the content that drives intranet usage.
- IM or KM: Defined by Robertson as the “information management: (IM) “knowledge management,” sections that exist within many businesses, these groups have the capabilities to go beyond the intranet as an ‘information repository’ and deliver internal communications and business functionality.”
“We are fond of saying that there is usually no ‘one size fits all’ solution for healthcare and hospital Internet Websites
,” said Brand. “And clearly, that notion fits within the parameters of exploring who is the best choice for hospital intranet ownership. The answer is perhaps best determined by honestly exploring and defining one’s hospital’s capabilities and needs prior
to building or deploying an intranet.”
What Technology is Best for Your Hospital?
The buzz these days is around Microsoft SharePoint, and since many hospital and healthcare systems have bundled Microsoft Software licenses, they think SharePoint is the way to go. But is SharePoint the best content management system (CMS) solution for your hospital?
Why SharePoint might be best for your hospital:
- Pre-existing licensing agreement with Microsoft
- You have an administrator with vast SharePoint knowledge
- Enables personalization and customization because it ties in nicely with active directory and allows for permissions in select areas
- Offers great collaborative tools that you are looking for, like news, calendar, document library and a robust search that is probably better than your home grown intranet search
Why another technology might be best:
- Cost, which can sometimes be expensive with all of SharePoint’s licensing fees
- Your intranet does not provide personalization and customization for your users
- Looking for basic content management without all the collaborative tools
- You don’t have an administrator who truly understands the pros and cons of SharePoint
- SharePoint workflows can be overkill for some environments
Basically, it all comes down to what your hospital’s needs are and what it wants to accomplish, and the strategy your intranet steering committee puts in place should lead you to decide what technology is best for your hospital.
Next month in the final installment of our three part hospital intranet series, we’ll explore the process of rolling out a new intranet to your staff.
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