Originally published May 19, 2015

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When selecting an Enterprise Social Network vendor, what requirements are important? Here is my detailed list. Please comment to add to, reorganize, change, or identify the top requirements based on your experience. Thanks for your help!

1. Customer Orientation

  • Responsive to customers
  • Actively uses a customer advisory board
  • Takes customer input and acts on it for future releases
  • Regularly shares product roadmap
  • Assigns a dedicated and useful liaison
  • Offers priority support for problems
  • Communicates changes regularly with advance notice, avoids surprises, provides good info on updates
  • Expert, responsive, timely, and persistent support

2. Vendor

  • Stable
  • ESN is an important part of the company’s strategy and product line
  • Well-funded

3. Platform

  • User experience is the same for all users
  • Good response time
  • Good availability
  • Robust security
  • Rapid remediation of problems and defects
  • Large organizations have different needs from smaller organizations: enable these different needs through configurable admin options

4. Features

  • Posts and replies
  1. Allow editing your own post and indicate that post was edited
  2. Force posting in a group — no all company group
  3. Look for an already-posted link and alert user so it can be shared rather than reposted
  • Share
  1. Include context of shared post
  2. Share into multiple groups at once
  • Feeds
  • Follow
  • Profiles
  • Like
  • Bookmarks
  • Files
  1. Embedded images and videos
  2. Allow large (e.g., 5GB) files
  • Announcements
  • Topics
  • Mentions
  • Groups
  • Search
  • Notifications
  • Praise
  • Polls/surveys
  • Private messages
  • Notes
  • External networks
  • Translate
  • Questions
  1. Tag posts as questions
  2. Tag replies as answers
  3. Find all unanswered
  • Lists, calendars, events pages, file management, wikis
  • Image and link thumbnails
  • Rich text formatting
  • Co-authoring of documents

5. Functionality

  • Admin Configuration
  1. Allow changing the default for a user’s feed
  2. Allow defining what should go in daily and weekly digests
  3. Allow limiting group creation to verified admins only
  4. Allow customizing invitation message text and other similar communications
  • Email
  1. Group digest option
  2. Suppress email signatures and out-of-office replies
  3. Determine which group members have email notifications turned on
  4. Allow turning on email for all group members as initial default
  5. All email notifications should be in HTML and display the full threads
  • User Experience
  1. Easy to join
  2. Low noise — choose all or following (following is default); just posts, not replies, of those followed
  3. Consistent user experience across mobile apps; offer desktop app with similar experience
  • Groups
  1. Allow optional control of group creation
  2. Ability to sort and filter groups on date created, date of last post, name, text string in name or description, number of members, number of posts, missing description, no admin, etc.
  3. Suggest groups to join (but not to create) when a new member joins, based on their interests
  4. Allow posting to multiple groups at once, with a single thread instance
  5. Related groups, group badging (e.g., official)
  6. Allow the ability to suppress group from public search results, but allow admins to search for it
  7. Move a thread from one group to another
  8. Convert between public and private groups both ways, with alerts
  9. Ability to merge groups
  10. Ability to email all group members, export, sort, filter
  11. Ability to tag groups with topics, e.g., technology
  • Topics
  1. Add/remove a topic after posting, anyone can do this
  2. Allow hashtag inline, and allow removal of hashtag
  3. Email alerts for topics
  4. Ability to display all topics which have been created, with number of times each has been used
  5. Allow topics to be edited, merged, and deleted
  6. Show all topics which match the entered text, with scrolling down if needed
  7. Don’t allow # to start topics.
  8. Add the ability to display a topic feed in a web site.
  • Analytics
  1. Rich analytics for networks, groups, topics, members: metrics, leader boards, badges, group reports — number of posts in a group, other useful health indicators, data on posts being read, email notifications
  2. Number of members and rate of increase in membership
  3. Number of unique posters, number of posts, frequency of posts, average time between posts
  4. Average time to reply, average number of replies, and number of unanswered queries
  5. Social listening, trending, more discoverable, sensing, social intelligence, risk sensing
  6. Robust set of APIs and full data exports to allow rich customized reporting
  • Integration
  1. SharePoint (or whatever is used for collaboration spaces and intranet pages)
  2. Personal profile system
  3. Enterprise search
  4. Active Directory
  5. Single Sign On
  6. Receive tweets from Twitter and posts from LinkedIn
  • Search and sort
  1. Allow searching on partial text, not just full words, e.g., show all instances where <string> appears, not just that exact word, so that variations such as <strings> will appear in the results
  2. Advanced search option and search within a group or topic
  3. Search works as it does in most commonly-used search tools, advanced search, refiners
  4. Ability to sort and filter lists — groups, people, tags, files, etc.

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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