Does your company have a bulletin board for online employee collaboration?

My peeps,

I’m looking for feedback and ideas about the concept of a bulletin board (just like the SDMB, only smaller) for work. My company will soon be launching a bulletin board for employees, particularly those in sales/account management to be able to ask for help or offer advice online. I am the lead on this project – not from an IT standpoint, but for implementing it, seeding it with good discussion, and creating a launch plan to get people interested and involved in it.

Does your company have a bulletin board or similar online collaboration space?

How is it used?

Is it successful? Why or why not?

If you could have one at work, what would you use it for? What would make you check it out or come back to it regularly?

Any other stuff I should be aware of?

This is totally new territory for me and the company, so any guidance I can get would be MUCH appreciated. Thanks for any ideas you have.

One of my previous employers implemented something similar on its intranet. It didn’t really take off as expected, however, because people forget to check it regularly and they were used to seeking and getting advice and answers to their questions via email.

I have zero experience with this, but it seems like you might want to put on a couple of things that would give people a reason to get into the habit of checking it regularly – for instance, here we have Cecil’s column.

Maybe like a trivia quiz thing, where the answer is posted the following day? Or people could submit a joke of the day, or a quote of the day, something like that. I check Yahoo every day because that’s where I read “Foxtrot,” and, yeah, sometimes I end up clicking on a “News of the Weird” link or something.

I tried to implement something like that where I work as a way to keep content on our website fresh and up to date… many times. Each time it died a horrible death.

I’ve found that where I work getting content for our website is like pulling teeth, and people here just seem to think that because I’m the company webmaster that I can magically pull content out of my ass and keep an update and informative web site.

The fact was and is that where I work, people are way too busy and involved in doing their jobs to regularly view the board, let alone learn how to use the board and actually contribute content.

Now that is my company which happens to be an educational institution. Your company may function totally different. I agree totally with twickster that you would have to have something that really hooks people into wanting to visit the board. Perhaps you can get a couple of volunteers to help you out by providing some extra content.

Thanks very much, all. I’m worried that the situation would develop into the ones that JuanitaTech and Dragwyr describe, especially this:

I get a lot of that already regarding the intranet site I run.
Them: “Why don’t you have information about X provided?”
Me: “Uh, because no one has given me information about X.”

twickster, I have a couple of meetings set up for next week to brainstorm ideas for that very thing: how to make it compelling enough to keep key people coming back and participating. We just did a survey about all the sales tools my team creates for the sales force (the promary audience for this bulletin board), and they’ve all requested some really specific info. I’m thinking of maybe seeding the bulletin board with threads about the very things they’ve asked for, and then getting into their staff meetings to show them how the thing works.

I dunno. I really want this to take off, but I really don’t know how to proceed. I keep reading all these articles and going to seminars that say that message boards are the heart of knowledge management, but then there’s little offered in the way of advice on how to get them up and running. All the advice out there seems to be, “Start a sucessful message board. Other companies that have love them!” Fine. How do I make it successful?

Thanks again for the feedback, guys. It’s really helpful.

I’m the custodian of a website for my particular function at my job. In the initial rush of ideas for the website I considered doing a chat room but then realized what would happen is similar to the above.

Typically if someone needs input to solve a problem they’ll simply email a bunch of people who might have the answer. It grabs attention better than a chat room. Either that or go ask their neighbor.

Not message board but website related (I don’t know if this applies to your situation but anyway…): Regarding content I just put up stuff I thought would be useful. Links to standard operating procedures, forms, links to training and other functions, references, and function area presentations (not departmental or company-wide stuff), in your case sales tools. A good reference for what would be ‘useful’ would be either your own bookmarks or the bookmarks of the people for whom the site is designed. For me they were one and the same since this is something I do in addition to my regular job.

Unfortunately direct feedback from coworkers is minimal, and is typically in the form of a problem, but I do know the site is being used.

To make it succeed you basically have to make it a portal for people’s jobs. You want to put as much stuff on the first page without it getting too confusing. Also, people don’t need fancy graphics. Just the content served up in a user-friendly way.