Archive for April, 2010

Information architecture design philosophy

April 12, 2010

General Design for Information Architectures Relating to Intranet and Knowledge Management Systems

There are many possible organisation structures and information architectures for an Intranet or knowledge management system. The easiest to envisage and explain is based on an organisation’s structure, and key processes within each organisation unit.

However organisation structures change. In some cases frequently, and reorganisations tend to render large slabs of content out of date or incorrectly organised.

A more valuable approach is to structure and organise content around key processes and roles within the organisation, and the information people need to work effectively with those processes. The goals and responsibility briefs of people are geared towards effective delivery of an organisations products and services – all of which is process related.

In developing an information architecture and knowledge management solutions, an organisation should consider the 9 P’s of knowledge management[1]:

  • Philosophies (strategic alignment with organisational goals)
  • Presentation and branding (style)
  • Products
  • Processes
  • People and organisation
  • Performance measurement and reporting
  • Participants (consumers, providers, administrators)
  • Patrons (senior executive committee, sponsors, and content owners)
  • Protection (information security, veracity, and intellectual property)

Expanding on these points:

Philosophy and Presentation

  • Has visible alignment with organisational objectives
  • Has clear, detailed and (generally) measurable objectives
  • Describes a clear philosophy and vision about the approach towards clients, products and processes
  • Is linked to organisational culture
  • It’s important that you consciously draw the bounds to limit scope to what can realistically be delivered in up to 90 day blocks…
  • …whilst providing a platform and architecture which supports future growth and evolution

Products, Process, and Performance

  • Products (and services) are what you sell and earn you money[2]
    • The usual marketing ‘P’s and ‘C’s always apply[3]
    • Your online channel must dovetail into programs for your other channels
  • But process is King
    • Every part of service or product delivery is part of some business process
    • Every product has a lifecycle…which is a managed via product lifecycle processes
    • Each client engagement is part of a broader process
    • Processes are collections of events
    • Your content should be process and event oriented
    • Consider what events trigger change – it’s change which invalidates content. not time, although it’s much easier to schedule time based content reviews as opposed to building an event model to identify and trigger content review and update
    • It should model customer engagement and conversations
  • Part of the skill in developing process-centric content is structuring it in such as way as to promote targeted performance outcomes – this means understanding relevant performance measures for aspects such as service delivery and quality

People and Patrons

  • Processes must be people and outcome oriented
  • People who are engaged are more likely to be satisfied
  • People who are engaged and satisfied become patrons and sponsors (i.e. champions)
  • Keys to engagement with people are:
    • Conversations should always be two-way
    • Find where to put your clients and people in the driver’s seat as decision makers – this devolves effort and reduces bottlenecks
    • Every transaction yields an opportunity to gather feedback
    • Feedback is a key component of improvement and innovation
  • People engage with processes by virtue of:
    • Skills
    • Knowledge
    • Their role (and associated responsibilities)