Using the “Hot Zone” to Smooth Intranet Portal Creation

As we’re building up the infrastructure to support knowledge management and collaboration for our new company, we’re learning some valuable lessons about how to create our Intranet portal and populate it with the right, valuable content.

This portal experience has been a bit surreal.  Because building these portals is what we do for our clients, we think we know how to go about doing this. However, it is very odd to be “on the other side of the table” and act as our own customer.  It has also been very educational.  This is what we do!  We build collaboration areas and dashboards.
The portal is based on Microsoft Sharepoint 2003, which gives us a rich set of capabilities as a starting point.  One of the bigger challenges, though, is a simple logistical one.  There’s lots of historical content that we want in the portal, but people are too busy right now to take the time to put it in the right places within the portal (e.g., documents for a particular project ought to be in that project’s site on the portal, conference presentations ought to be in the KnowledgeBase, etc.).
As a way around this challenge, we’ve set up what we call the “Hot Zone”.  It is a simple site with a single List View Web Part that accepts documents and allows the publisher to add some simple metadata:

  • Title
  • Content Type
  • Company Name
  • Author
  • Notes

Whenever one of us has the time, we dump the documents we want in the portal into the Hot Zone (often a folderful of files ZIPped), and then go back to concentrating on our ‘real’ work.  Later, when another of us has some time, we go through the Hot Zone and cherry pick documents to move into the right places in the portal.
This is working well for us, as it spreads the workload across the group of us and removes most of the inevitable thinking that ‘this darn portal is too much work’.  Getting our clients to populate their portals quickly is often one of the hardest parts.  With the Hot Zone, we will be able to take some of the thinking away and give them simple tasks.
We expect that we will start using this trick with our clients and that it will really help things move faster.  Try it yourself the next time you are faced with this challenge and see if it doesn’t make things go more smoothly.

Have a thought or opinion?