Intranet projects are Vampires that suck time, money and other resources

Every intranet is unique and starts from scratch. Countless people and perspectives are involved…producing churn. Businesses are lost in the complexity maze—the technology is complex, the content is complex, the politics are complex—with many layers to navigate.

I call Bull$#*+!  It doesn’t have to be so complicated. Let’s modernize, simplify & standardize—straight-talk to guide your path to a modern, integrated intranet.

8 Reports guiding you through the complex maze of modernizing your Intranet



Straightening the Modern SharePoint Intranet Maze

This report outlines the strategic vision for your Modern Office 365 Intranet. It is the important overview that will give you a complete picture and help you define your strategy.

It’s mandatory for any business over the size of 50 people to have certain CORE intranet functionality.  It isn’t a choice; it is just a standard business necessity. We review how intranets today are built without common guidelines, and yet they all deliver a CORE set of the same things.

We’ll set the stage to stop reinventing the wheel, and provide the strategic blueprints for a more agile method based on standard practices and guidelines.

Let’s deliver a great, fantastic, flexible, future-ready CORE intranet and then let’s move on to the things that DO make a difference--those things that are unique to your business, and the collaboration tools that will improve efficiency.



Straightening the Intranet Planning Maze

The planning kit provides detailed templates and options so you can be fully equipped as the expert Project Manager using this model.

In addition to a project plan that walks through each step in detail, you’ll find a functionality timeline that links each Intranet area to it’s related SharePoint functionality. This non-standard view of a plan will help your team understand when each technical functionality is coming on-line, including insights on when services are to be introduced to Contributors, and to Users.

The kit includes a professionally-designed PowerPoint presentation to help you tell the story to decision-makers and stakeholders.  Use the provided script to gain confidence in the content, and make it your own.  Communicate the value of standard architecture, position the trade-offs and align expectations.  Prepare yourself to effectively handle objections that may arise.

Key project documents to build understanding and tame the Wicked project.  Create a concise project summary from provided templates.  Track notes, comments, decisions and future items in an organized way linked to each Intranet item, including date stamps and follow-up tasks.  Use alternative views of your plan to uncover hidden gotchas.

Decide if you need a lab environment and if you should use a Team Site or Microsoft Teams to manage your Project and Contributor teams.  Helpful project management, change management, technology, and adoption tips & tricks.

Available in Spring 2020



Straightening the Intranet Architecture & Navigation Maze

This report guides you through all of the CORE phase components of your SharePoint Ecosystem.  A detailed navigation and organization model extracted from deep analysis of hundreds of award-winning intranets. We mash-up this architecture with the functionality of SharePoint online and Office 365, and serve it up as the detailed map for your modern, flexible and future ready intranet.

Optimizing the SharePoint Home experience.  Common navigation across the environment.  Leveraging the Modern Communication Site for all of your News & Events.  Using categories, site columns, and content types to maximize flexibility, automate, and deliver powerful views, driving an awesome home page experience.

The complete Knowledgebase, in great detail.  Your "book on the shelf" covering everything employees need to know about how your business is run.  Our topic organization map covers over 450 items you'll find in most Intranets.  More than just topics, we also cover lists, libraries, and recommended views to surface key information.

Clarifying the view through four perspectives:
1) User Experience Model
2) Navigation Model
3) Topic Organization Model
4) Technical Model

Behind the scenes lists you'll need to maintain for critical Metadata taxonomies.  Administrative content to help you maintain a healthy ecosystem, and steps you can take to automate administration.  How to highlight key information via Metadata rather than location or hard-coding.

Microsite use-cases will provide a complete picture of how to leverage their power.  A powerful approach to offload short-term, ad-hoc, and unofficial communication needs, and maintain the integrity of your CORE intranet.  You'll understand how Microsites are applicable to your organization, and how to use them for maximum potency.



Straightening the Metadata, Term Store, and Site Column Maze

Metadata is a complicated, critical part of the Modern Integrated Intranet. Learn how to classify, organize, present, tag, and inter-relate content. The core term hierarchies every business needs, and how all the pieces work together as building blocks for a solid foundation. Tricks & tools to efficiently build, propagate and manage consistent columns through your full ecosystem. Straight talk to fill in the blanks and guide your path to a healthy meta-structure.

Unlock the power and flexibility of SharePoint through Metadata.  Using it to drive navigation, search, content reveals, and so much more. Setting it up require thought around the organization’s structure and vocabulary, as well as a bit of governance to keep it focused.  We'll discuss the Ins & Outs of the technology that nobody tells you about, including performance gotchas.

We'll walk-through the theories and intricacies of Taxonomy and how SharePoint works with it. Learn about existing tools and services that can streamline your efforts so you don’t have to build your own taxonomy term stores from scratch.

This report works hand-in-hand with the companion Page & Content report to guide you through the technology functionality, best practices and setup, to make your Intranet an exceptional experience for everyone.

Available Fall 2019

Page & Content

Page & Content

Straightening the Page & Content Maze

This report kit dives below the surface, to define the information and features to include on each type of page. Wireframes and web-part guidance are included for them as well.

We'll talk through the process of content creation, including the reports you’ll need and practical steps to map existing content to your new environment.   Determine what standards you should define to best support your Contributors.  Refine the provided wireframes for your Intranet's design.

Metadata standards that every page should include.  The challenges of mandatory data fields, and determining what mandatories are right for you.  How to use standard functionality to identify missing metadata.

Page structure in detail.  Leveraging O365 and SharePoint home to offload clutter that gets in the way of higher-value home page content.  Web part guidance.  Techniques to automatically showcase high-value and popular content.  The importance of a topic outline on every content page--just like Wikipedia.  Using page metadata to reveal a list of related topics.  How to set-up lists, libraries and pages for linking similar items/topics.

Section home pages, and parent/child page relationships.  Filtering versus searching.  Aggregating information from across your ecosystem for unified galleries of like documents (such as forms, templates and reports)

Delegating News and Event creation so Executives are published authors even when others facilitate the details and do the online work.  Localizing news for regions or divisions.  Reduce your risk of falling-down a rabbit hole by separating out the visual design decisions from functionality decisions, so you know which ones are baked into the technology.  Setting-up site-wide photo galleries and using Stream for video delivery.  Connecting to external news and Twitter feeds.  People profiles and their huge value.

This report, and it’s companion Metadata report will guide you through many of the technology functionality best practices and setup.

Available Fall 2019

Refine & Govern

Refine & Govern

Straightening the Refinement and Governance Maze

Powerful insights about how your users actually use the intranet, is hidden in the traffic data and the Microsoft Graph data. We’ll use Power BI to connect this valuable information and use it to make data-driven decisions about where meta refinements are needed, and what content could benefit from some internal promotional efforts.

When to download data and when to connect to it live.  Preparing and cleaning data through scripts, so you only have to do it once.  What information in the sea of data is truly relevant.  Analyzing the data and extracting insights, step-by-step.

Determining next steps in your refinement plan.  Building low-effort standard practices for continual improvement.  Areas where governance is truly impactful to the health of the ecosystem.  Content governance, architecture governance, and meta governance.  Defining the governance needed for long-term health of the Intranet and the technology.  Defining governance requirements that are business- or organizationally-driven.  Third-party products that can reduce your effort.

Available in 2020



Straightening the Lab Environment Maze

Don’t risk your live data and environment by also using it as your test/sandbox platform. Having a test or lab environment has been a critical IT practice forever, but has not been well adopted for SharePoint online.

How to set-up a lab tenant, including enrolling in Microsoft’s hidden program that will give you a 25-seat lab environment for a nominal fee (free the first year, and virtually free after that).

Using your lab to test new approaches and experience how changes will behave, without impacting your live intranet.  Opening it up for the team and contributors.  Receiving software updates earlier on your Lab, so you can understand their impact before they hit your Production tenant.

Deciding whether your lab should also be your training environment.  Deciding if you need a Lab for the CORE phase, or if it can wait till when you're live.  Third party tools you'll need to efficiently transfer content from Lab to Production.

Quick and easy practices for controlling change within your production environment and synchronizing configurations.

This report will guide you through all the details.

Available in 2020



Straightening the Contributor Maze

Contributors need special care and handling, they’re your most important group of users, let’s show them some love. Contributors have full-time jobs already, so we need to make their efforts as focused and efficient as possible.

This group of non-techies needs to understand some of the innerworkings of the intranet, especially around the Metadata topic. Their role requires them to assign good tags and metadata, determine when new information should go live, and when old information should expire, to follow the architectural guidelines and raise their hands for help. Learn how to get them engaged, and keep them engaged.

Define contributor responsibilities.  Decide when to loop them in on the details of your new Intranet.  Build a Contributor literacy program that can also be utilized for general Users.  Change management and adoption activities that focus on Contributor comfort and assistance.

Reviewing Contributor's work through automated governance.  Before-go-live and After-go-live review requirements and how they differ.  Using Power Apps and Flow to kick-start meta definition and compliance.

Available in 2020

There's so many great things you want to do in Office 365
The problem is that you can't do anything without a good foundation of content & metadata. Planning these items, it wraps in so much--expanding the scope to include Users and Stakeholders, looping-in Consultants. All you want to do is build a core foundation & the scope expands like an atom bomb.
By using the Straighten The Maze standard architecture, you can jumpstart your transition to a Modern Intranet. Make your project less wicked, get out of pain, and make the whole thing less overwhelming. Forming a solid foundation for the collaboration and line-of-business services that will make a difference for your business.
Until now, there hasn’t been any truly actionable, prescriptive guidance about how businesses should best use the technology we all have, for the one thing we all use it for—OUR INTRANET.
Standards based equally on how the technology is intended to work, and over a hundred award-winning Intranets. Our goal is to quickly get businesses to a healthy baseline of core intranet services in SharePoint. Saving the majority of their resources to be focused on the more advanced things that will make a difference.


Map of default Content Types and Site Columns with relationship links. Useful as lookup to help decide if you can reuse or change a setting. Site Columns and Content Types are an important part of your SharePoint Metadata Ecosystem. Map tames them.
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Metadata is a keystone to a modern integrated future-ready Intranet. In a meta-driven architecture, relationships are no longer defined with rigid structure, instead simple tags flexibly connect related content.
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The Content Type Hub significantly reduces the effort of metadata management in SharePoint. Site Columns If you have a column that you want to reuse you can save it as a Site Column. It then becomes a sort of template, that you can use anywhere else in the site without ha...
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