Using SharePoint to power a newsroom

Last year, the BBC published a fascinating white paper on how they built a newsroom production tool, using SharePoint as a foundation: “The BBC Journalism Portal and the Future of Newsroom Production Tool (PDF).

It’s great to read a case study written by a News Pro and core ‘User’, rather than a marketing department, and it’s doubly interesting to see Sharepoint being used as a ‘discussion first’, rather than ‘document-first’ environment, which is how I’ve mainly experienced Sharepoint.

The BBC clearly have a pretty unique set of job roles and ‘product’, however news stories serve as a useful analogue to regular company projects; whilst developing a news story has a different intensity to a ‘normal’ project; they both hold interest to a group of dispersed people, take inputs from multiple sources and have multiple job roles involved at different times in the lifecycle, before final delivery.

Taking the ‘stories as projects’ analogue, I took a few notes from the case study:

1) Visibility drives out duplication

By creating total visibility around each story’s development, duplication of effort is driven out of the fast moving story process.
Removing duplication of effort is a huge win for any organisation, and great examples like the BBC really underpin the value of creating full visibility on project activity.

2) Lessons for normal Orgs?

Can the success factors from these high-visibility, high-frequency story ‘spaces’ influence/apply to the slower, lower frequency content flow around ‘normal’ projects in ‘normal’ organisations?

3) ‘Everything we know’ is surfaced

“Ability to surface everything we know about a story” – I thought this was a great example of the value of open collaboration amongst experts.

4) Forced use to avoid silos

Interesting that they forced people to use the Global Diary system to prevent silos developing from people using existing, disparate systems – would be good to know the cultural dynamics/reaction to that

5) Long-term retrieval vs. short-term focus?

I’d love to know more about how the story space is archived/stored and whether it has value for future use (one possible value could be in case of dispute over editorial bias…a record of how a story was developed would help any investigation?)

The ‘surfacing of everything we know’ mentioned in 3) seemed to refer to the current development, rather than future retrieval.

Are these ‘story spaces’ transient, or do they contribute to the long term organisational memory of the BBC?