A bold statement? Perhaps. But if you use effective templates in your projects and operational activities, you can save hours of work each week. And who couldn’t use a few free hours each week?
Most templates are set up with the best of intentions. Two scenarios account for most template libraries – and both tend to wane.
Scenario 1 – Organic – one or two people wrote some cool documents and shared them with some of their team members. This then spreads to a couple of projects. But then Corporate got wind of the activity and wanted to turn it into a project with a structured, overly prescriptive database or intranet site (maybe some customer html, CMS, or even Sharepoint). It then often loses relevance to the coal-face staff since the tool now “kind of gets in the way”.
Scenario 2 – KMS – A knowledge management tool is approved by an executive or similar person who has seen or heard about it and that other companies who set up the tools saved lots of money and drastically improved productivity. This scenario often has a similar fate as scenario 1 and is doomed from the start.
What can we do?
- Forget about sophisticated knowledge management systems – they’ll just discourage staff from using the templates
- Ask individual team members what they struggle with and where they need the most assistance
- Drop the rest of your existing templates into a sub-page or library so they’re not in the way
- Review with typical authors what issues they have with the templates and whether it would help to include explanatory text, example text and/or tailoring guidance (what is mandatory and optional)
- Build a simple page for the templates – that can be accessed with one click and includes only those templates that are regularly used (by the way don’t use webpage counters to determine use – because it often doesn’t bear any relation to reality (unless it equals 0))
- Broadcast the page to everyone once a month for 6 months and ask people to critique the documents and page. Tell them to use it or lose it.
- After 3 months ask around to see if it actually helps
Save your time – build your business.