Six months to set up a new blog! What were you doing man?

Yesterday, I wrote about how I’ve been working on setting up a blogging platform at work.  But I also said I’d been working on this for six months.  Six months! To set up a blog! What took so long?

To be fair, it didn’t take me six months.  At least not six months of solid work, just six months of elapsed time.  And, if you’re thinking about doing something similar in your organisation, this post includes some of the things you might want to consider.

Getting organised

All the usual project management, technology and service management issues need to be covered.  Starting out from a project mandate, I needed to ensure that all stakeholders were in agreement as to what we’re producing, and tie down some clear requirements against which a technology platform and service wrap-around could be designed. In my case, that was pretty straightforward, but it still required co-operation from various business functions in several geographies.

Getting organised and selecting a technology platform

With some requirements covered off, it was on to technology selection, and it’s no good just setting up a web server and putting it on the ‘net – the solution needs to be manageable and supportable, long after I’ve ceased to be involved!  Furthermore, because we’re a managed service organisation, it doesn’t look too good to be buying in web hosting services from outside, so it needed to be something that we manage ourselves.

As it happened, I found that some of my colleagues elsewhere in the company were already doing something similar – and they had space on their platform for us to set up an new instance.

Bingo! That’s the technology sorted, what else needs to be done?

Getting organised, selecting a technology platform, and sorting out the marketing

The whole purpose of this activity is demonstrating thought leadership – and thought leadership is marketing (argh! I’ve become a marketeer – much to the amusement of my marketing professional wife, as she witnesses her tame geek cross over to “the dark side”).  It’s no good going off half-cocked and so I worked with some of my colleagues who really are marketing professionals (not just playing at it like me) to create a social media marketing strategy.  Branding was another element.  It’s no good just picking a theme that I like from the ‘net and applying it to our platform.  I worked with our internal agency’s designers and developers to ensure that the appropriate brand standards were followed, so that the eventual blog platform site had the same look and feel as the corporate site, and that it functioned well in an accessible manner, across many browsers.  Ah yes. The corporate site. Time to work with the Web marketing team to ensure that the appropriate links and redirects are in place.  So, it seems that creating a corporate blog platform is not as easy as just throwing up a new WordPress instance then!

Getting organised, selecting a technology platform, sorting out the marketing, and the service management

I mentioned service management earlier.  However few users the solution has on day one, I needed to be sure that, as it grows (as these things tend to), there would be a supported route for managing capacity, ensuring that servers and software are maintained and kept up-to-date, and that if someone calls the IT helpdesk for support, the calls are routed appropriately.  There’s actually a whole load more to it than that, but you get the idea.

Getting organised, selecting a technology platform, sorting out the marketing, the service management, and the content

Content. Yes, content. Content is king and all that.  We talked about marketing, and we knew what we wanted to achieve in broad terms but someone has to actually write something to post on each blog.  Writing is a creative process; it’s not just something you can site down and do at 9am each day, but all of the content providers need to be sure that they can put aside the necessary time to write new posts – and consistency of posting is more important than frequency.  I don’t mind if there’s only one post a month, as long as there is one post every month. That meant creating a funnel of ideas for our content producers to draw inspiration from.

Getting organised, selecting a technology platform, sorting out the marketing, the service management, the content, and the supporting policies

Most large organisations will have policies that govern things like use of the Internet, marketing, speaking on behalf of the company, etc. and those policies may well cover the use of social media; however there’s a world of difference between responsible use of Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/whatever as individuals and writing on the company’s own website.  Also, it’s simply not practical (or even ethical) to pre-approve blog posts in the way that we might for a press release.  That meant that some policies might need to be updated, and some additional training needs to provided to users.

All of this is just scraping the surface

It’s been a long haul – I’ve covered some of the main considerations in this post but, of course, as should be expected in any large organisation there were various challenges to overcome that I haven’t gone into the details of here. It’s been a steep learning curve for me, but fun too. And it’s great to look back and look at the number of things that we had to do to get to where we are today, and how many people were involved, each adding their own unique element to the project.

That’s it for the work-related posts on this blog – for the time being at least – but this isn’t really about the company that I work for, it’s about the effort that’s involved in pretty much any new technology implementation.  And if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!

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