By Cathy Dew
How The Right Information Architect Can Save You Money (Lots and Lots of Money)
Let’s face it. We do it for the money, for the Benjamins. We want to make, raise, grow, produce and yield as much cold hard cash as we can.
We want our for-profit business, our non-profit enterprise, our educational institution to thrive. We want to be as productive as possible so we can make or save or spend or keep as much money as possible.
More money means more jobs, bigger bonuses, better programs, better outcomes, more doors opened, more mouths fed, more people helped, or more animals rescued. More money means more of pretty much everything we want or need to do.
Internet Highway Robbery
What if I told that some of your best people were interfering with your yields? That they were sucking money from your coffers? What if I told you that you and your organization were the victim of nothing short of a bold and brash form of (internet) highway robbery?
Yup. It’s true. And here are the facts, my friend. Read ‘em and weep:
In its 2018 survey, Nintex asked 1,000 U.S. employees across varied industries and departments to rate how document management impacts their daily work lives. The results were illuminating: 39 percent said their organization’s document management systems are broken. They singled out:
- Issues with locating documents
- Issues with document approval requests
- Issues with document sharing
- Issues with document versioning
On average, employees spend one-fifth of their workweek – that’s 20 percent! – searching for documents and gathering information. This is time spent readying to produce, figuring how to produce, and trying to understand the information they need so they can be productive. It is NOT time spent actually doing anything that needs to be done. In essence, you are losing a day of productivity per employee per week because things that should be findable simply aren’t.
And that’s just your rank-and-file worker folk. It’s even worse for knowledge workers, the people who actually earn their living finding and using information. They spend 2.5 hours each day – about 30% of the workweek – searching for information they need to do their jobs.
So no matter how you slice it, you are losing somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of your employees’ productivity to the often redundant and sometimes futile pursuits of the resources needed to do their jobs.
That wasted time means wasted money, squandered productivity, and reduced profits.
People are drowning. The struggle is real.
Information Future Shock
In many ways, we have fallen victim to the dearth of information and the never-ending means to access it. Gone are the days of having to wait patiently for the typing pool to return the next version of a draft, distribute it to all departments, then incorporate the comments of reviewers one at a time.
Fewer and fewer of us remember the trials of visiting an actual physical library to pour through the stacks with slow and meticulous patience, carefully notating any tidbit of useful information on a blue-lined 3’ x 5’ index card, hoping against hope that it that could lead us to the next great clue that, eventually, would get us to that kernel of knowledge needed to move forward with our time-is-of-the-essence project.
Today, we can email documents to multiple parties simultaneously, redline them electronically by tracking changes, and then return by replying to all for review and revisions.
We can search endlessly for information to back up a theory or dispute it. We can look at a source and then look at that source’s source, digging ever deeper into the wide vast information-holding universe that is the internet, only stopping when we have finally run out of time, patience, or the wherewithal to discern fact from fiction, good information from bad, cutting edge from already obsolete.
What a mess.
Enter Your Information Architect in Shining Armor
This is just the type of problem the experienced intranet information architect lives to solve. She has a veritable armory full of weapons of waste-of-time destruction.
One winning combination that can help solve your organization’s time-wasting dilemma is the use of filters and facets in the design and development of your employee intranet.
Filters and Facets
Filters are used to analyze a given set of content to exclude items that don’t meet certain criteria. Faceted navigation extends this filtering process to provide a complex structure that describes an object’s different characteristics. Together, identifying and then applying filters and facets knocks off a lot of the wheel spinning that occurs with most internal and external information searches.
One of the biggest benefits of faceted navigation is that it describes many different dimensions of the content, providing a structure to help users understand the content space, so they can more readily identify what is available and how to search for it.
Faceted navigation begins with faceted classification.
In a perfect world, our users would go to your intranet or extranet and find what they are looking for immediately, reducing interaction cost to zero.
It’s a goal, to be sure, but unless and until everyone thinks the exact same way and needs the exact same thing, zero search costs are going to be the stuff of impossible dreams.
But the savvy information architect can help move the needle close to that halcyon goal by enhancing hierarchal classification schemes with faceted classification.
With hierarchical classification, objects are classified using one single hierarchical taxonomy. So if your user doesn’t approach the problem the same way the developer did, he or she is basically out of luck.
Faceted classification, on the other hand, while potentially employing hierarchy in one or more of its facets, allows for the use of more than one taxonomy to classify objects. In other words, faceted classification incorporates the hierarchal taxonomies that make sense to all of your users, so that the most tech-savvy to the most systems challenged, the highest level professional employee to the new kid working the mailroom, and the busiest CEO to the pool of programmers crammed in cubicles, can all find what they need as close to when they need it as possible.
Faceted classification enhances user experience.
Faceted classification systems:
- Take user experience into account by allowing for the assignment of multiple classifications to an object so different types of searchers can approach the information hunt in a way that makes sense to them. In the employee intranet context, faceted classification puts the user front and center.
- Allow for the combination of facets to filter objects rapidly, addressing multiple classification criteria in quick succession, saving time and, of course, money.
- Focus on categorization based on essential or persistent characteristics of the content objects, opening the door for consistency in characterizing rapidly changing but similar or fungible repositories.
- Open the door for the addition of new facets without any disruptions or forced reorganizations of other facets.
How 2Plus2 Can Save You Money
The experienced information architects at 2Plus2 know that your organization is like no other. It has its own set of unique characteristics that distinguish it in the marketplace and differentiate it from the competition. We embrace your differences when creating your intranet systems, so your specific user employees save time, increase efficiencies, and add to (instead of subtracting from) your bottom line.
Let us show you the 2Plus2 difference. Contact us online or call us at 510-652-7700 for a free, no-obligation consultation today.