Conference Notes

Share2010 Session: Lynn Warneke from Pearson Australia Group on "Monster Moves: How One Information Architecture Successfully Brought 8 Businesses Together"

Lynn Warneke, Head of Digital Technologies at Pearson Australia Group, talked about the value of an integrative information architecture, and the value it created at Pearson. Lynn has been at Pearson for about a year, but is usually an independent SharePoint and information management consultant. Connect with Lynn on LinkedIn.

Key points:

  • The overall programme that Lynn led had 9 workstreams, but Lynn only talked about the SharePoint 2010 information architecture workstream. Pearson Australia Group is an umbrella legal entity in Australia and New Zealand, eg., Pearson Shared Services Australia, Penguin, United Book Distributors, and others. 900 employees, 180 discrete business units, divisions and departments. 10 offices across Australia and New Zealand. Huge challenges in bringing people together.
  • Vision – to move from 15 static intranets, no search, over-reliance on email, minimal organizational collaboration – to a single coherent platform for company information, staff profiles, navigation, collaborative work spaces, and more.
  • Engaged an Information Architect for about 3 months. Used a variety of IA techniques – requirements workshops and interviews, content audit, staff surveys, and more. The key problem – very little awareness outside of each group of what others did. Created a monster analysis to bring all of the information together.
  • Key take aways – be aware of limitations of user-centred design process – users don’t always know. Get “off the page” and prototype in SharePoint ASAP. There needs to be sufficient applied SharePoint knowledge for this type of work to work. Finally, don’t get distracted by all the features and functions – focus on what adds value.
  • “thehive” – four major areas (1) intranet, (2) teams (ongoing team collaboration), (3) projects and titles (finite lifespan projects), and (4) My (profile sites). By separating teams and project sites, they can do information management and policies much better.
  • Take away – users get to content in different ways. We have offered many different pathways, and support people discovering things.
  • SharePoint lists are able to address many requirements, from entry to advanced. It’s potentially complex for end users at first.
  • Managed metadata is a great leap ahead, but there are upfront planning costs and ongoing user adoption costs.
  • Did not migrate any content using automated processes. Took a very manual approach – finding what there was, discarding the irrelevant material, re-writing a lot of content. It took a lot of time, but it delivered a comprehensive set of very good and clean content.

1. What experience do you have with people using the Tags and Notes feature? Has it been widely used? Uptake has been minimal. (From the questioner – people are confused about what it can be used for. Need to be clear about what it is.) Lynn thinks it will take time to build critical mass.

2. How many people were in your team? Quite small – Lynn 4 days a week, a content manager (1) , SharePoint technical people (3, part time), IA (1), and internal staff (6, very part time).

3. With no site directory, how did you achieve the ability to surface links to collaboration sites? We do it manually, on the Intranet pages. As we create new sites, we create a link to the right page.

4. You have a very well structured program. What was the benefit financially to Pearson? I did do a business case – most of the value is soft and intangible benefit. It’s probably a bit early to do this yet – we have only been live for 3 months.