Originally published on April 27, 2018

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This is the 19th article in the Profiles in Knowledge series featuring thought leaders in knowledge management. Sue Hanley is one of the leading experts on using Office 365 and SharePoint for knowledge management and collaboration, emphasizing the people side of this widely-used technology.

I first heard Sue speak at DCI’s Knowledge Management Conference in Boston in 1998. Her talk, Creating Knowledge-Based Communities of Practice: The AMS Knowledge Centers, was outstanding. I aspired to emulate her success with the new program I was leading at DEC.

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Sue organized the first annual SIKM Leaders Community dinner at KMWorld 2009, held Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at Il Fornaio, 302 South Market Street in San Jose, California. She wrote: “I’ve volunteered to organize a dinner for the members of the SIKM Leaders Community who will be attending KMWorld in San Jose next week. I’m doing this to honor the memory of Melissie Rumizen, who would have done the same. I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to meet in person!” She has continued to organize the dinners since then, missing only one year since the first one. Here is a picture of us at the 2014 dinner in Washington, DC:

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Recently, Sue became a grandmother with the birth of Hannah Sylbee Susser. She appears to be taking to this new role rather well, as evidenced in this photo:

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  1. LinkedIn
  2. Twitter
  3. Agilience
  4. Microsoft Ignite
  5. About

Susan Hanley is the founder and president of Susan Hanley LLC. Sue and her associates have helped her clients deliver successful SharePoint and Office 365 intranet and collaboration solutions that enable them to reduce the time it takes to deliver projects, work more effectively with partners, share and reuse knowledge and best practices, communicate and collaborate, and reduce the “time to talent” for new employees. More importantly, these successful solutions have a flexible and maintainable information architecture, an effective governance plan, a realistic plan for measuring results, and reflect a design and implementation strategy that promotes user adoption.

Before forming Susan Hanley LLC, Sue led the Portals, Collaboration, and Content Management practice at Dell Professional Services (formerly Plural, Inc.). Sue joined Plural (which was acquired by Dell in 2003) after more than 18 years of consulting experience at American Management Systems, Inc. (AMS). In 1995, she became the first Director of Knowledge Management for AMS, a position she held for five years. Sue Hanley also helped develop AMS’s knowledge management consulting practice. Prior to establishing the AMS Knowledge Centers, she was a project manager and business analyst on a variety of consulting engagements. Her areas of expertise include information architecture, knowledge management, governance, user adoption, and business value metrics.

Sue is a recognized expert in the design, development and implementation of successful portal solutions, with a specialization in Microsoft SharePoint. In 2015, She was named a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. She is a frequent writer and speaker on the topic of building effective collaborative portals, portal governance, user adoption and information architecture, as well as building communities of practice and measuring the value of knowledge management investments.

Sue is a primary author of the Metrics Guide for Knowledge Management Initiatives published by the U.S. Department of the Navy CIO. This document has been widely distributed around the world and has become the foundation for knowledge management metrics programs at many organizations in the public and private sector.

Sue has an MBA from the University of Maryland at College Park and a BA in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University. She is a founding member of the Northern Virginia KM Roundtable and the Queens University KM Forum. She served on the Board of Governors for the Syracuse University School of Information Studies and the Board of Governors for the George Washington University Institute for Knowledge Management. Sue is a former member of the Board of Directors for Women in Technology, for which she co-chaired the Senior Executive Women’s Special Interest Group. She also served as a member of Microsoft’s Partner Advisory Council for Portals and Collaboration.

SIKM Leaders Community Content


March 20, 2018 — Knowledge Management and Office 365: What You Need to Know

Threaded Discussions

1. SharePoint Archiving Advice

Q: Rolling out an enterprise SharePoint solution and wondered what advise you all might have with regard to site content archiving (i.e. pages, calendars, lists, libraries, etc.). There are settings for both closing a site and auto-archiving. Would really appreciate your advice.

A: This is very much an “it depends” scenario; it’s hard to provide generic advice. For team sites where you want to preserve the content, you can flip the site to “read only” and that keeps the content available for as long as your retention policies require but ensures that no new content is added. For other types of sites and content, you should align your archiving strategy with your records retention policy. The approach you choose depends on what you are required to preserve and what content you want to continue to make available as a resource or best practice. That sometimes mean moving the “good stuff” to a more permanent active location and then disposing of the entire site.

2. Content Ratings Systems Inside the Firewall

I couldn’t agree more. I think ratings inside the enterprise are a challenge. I just finished the first draft of the chapter on Social Computing for our upcoming book Essential SharePoint 2010: Overview, Governance, and Planning (shameless plug intended).

We do talk about a successful use of ratings in that chapter where we describe a company that created a repository to share IP and asked users to rate the content using a 5-star rating scale. At first, pretty much no one rated. We suspect this was for several of the reasons that you pose in your document but also because it was unclear what they were being asked to rate — the quality of the writing, whether or not they agreed with the author, whether or not they thought highly of the author, or whether they liked the quality of the document. In an effort to encourage participation, the sponsors clarified the intent of the ratings — to describe the extent to which the rater agreed that the document was a good example of IP. Once it was clear that the intent was to identify content that readers felt was definitely intellectual property, many more users participated in the ratings process. Having a clear purpose for rating and clear sponsorship for getting people to rate contributed to the success of this ratings effort. I think that if you expect to get some value from adding ratings to content, it’s going to have to be clear to people what and why they are rating.

I think you’ll like SharePoint 2010 because it includes two features that you suggest as better alternatives to ratings:

  • I Like It: Documents, pages, and other content can be tagged with a simple “I Like It” tag just like Facebook. The “I Like It” tag shows up in your activity feed so that your colleagues can see what you “liked” but it also provides a way for you to quickly get back to content that you “liked” because it is exposed to you on the Tags and Notes tab of your profile. No more need to remember: “how did I find this before?” (In some respects, it works like My Links in MOSS 2007.)
  • Tags and Notes: You can also tag content with words or phrases that you select from a list of previously used tags or you can add new tags yourself to provide more context to organize or evaluate content. For example, you can tag any document you consider to be a really good example of something with the term Best Practice or Good Example. It’s easy to see how people will use Tags and Notes to help classify content since this can be done pretty easily with a quick review. Tags and Notes can also be used to help filter search results and just like I Like It, help you quickly find content for which you added a social tag.

Before you think that ratings actually work any better on the internet then they do inside the enterprise, take a look at the October 5, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal. In an article by Jeffrey Fowler and Joseph De Avila called “On the Internet, Everyone’s a Critic But They’re Not Very Critical” the authors present an interesting statistic: the average rating for things consumers rate online is about 4.3 stars out of five. So, even on the internet where we all assume that ratings work better than inside the enterprise, for the most part, they just tell us that things are actually pretty good.

3. Yammer (or other similar tools) usage policies?

I don’t know if this is exactly what you are looking for, but I think you could get some inspiration and great ideas from the publicly available social media policies. The link below is an incredibly comprehensive list (with links) to the most comprehensive collection of social media policies I’ve ever seen. I have several clients who have used the policies from Coca Cola and Intel as the basis of their guidelines for Yammer-type tools. You can find the links for both of these excellent documents at the Social Media Policy Database.

4. Intranet governance

As you probably know, in pretty much all cases, the answer to the “best” model is “it depends.” That said, in practice, I think the organizations that are most successful have a hybrid model with both centralized ownership (typically for “top level” pages) and local ownership. I think a good guiding principle for governance is “someone is accountable, but we are all responsible,” which essentially means that every employee is responsible for notifying content owners about inconsistencies or inaccuracies in content and confusing content placement, etc. The issue, of course, is assigning ownership — which is where they hybrid model comes in. The primary owner of the top level pages might be Corp Comm, who will invest time and energy in working with content owners to ensure that the content and IA adds value. The lower pages might have both guidelines and rules defined by the business owner of the intranet, who then delegates accountability to the lower level page owner. As long as there is some teeth in the governance plan and the business and/or technical owner can take down non-compliant content, then I think a hybrid approach allows organizations to provide the flexibility to move forward and react to change and a level of control to ensure that the intranet delivers the best business value.

5. Consultant/Contractor Hourly Billing Rates

Q: I am in need of quick validation of an hourly billing rate figure and would appreciate your input. It’s been a while since I’ve done any independent consulting. The specific opportunity is to perform a consulting project/contract work for a large international law firm based in Boston. I’m thinking $75/hour would be acceptable to the client and me. Does that seem reasonable to you? If not, is it too high or low and what figure do you suggest.

A: $75 is much too low for this type of strategic consulting. Look at the kind of expertise and best practices they are expecting you to bring to the table. I think that they should be expecting to pay between $200 and $300/hour for an expert with this type of background and experience.

Articles and White Papers

  1. Computerworld Articles
  2. Breaking the Folder Paradigm: how to get more value from your SharePoint document libraries (how metadata can be used to replace folders as an organizing principle)
  3. Metadata moderation: don’t go overboard!
  4. Metadata that checks in but won’t check out (9 site columns that you should not add to your SharePoint document libraries — unless you want to keep them forever)
  5. 5 Key Approaches to Overcome Barriers and Ensure Success with Enterprise Social
  6. 10 Essential SharePoint Search Hints
  7. Practice Safe Search: 10 Essential SharePoint 2013 Search Hints
  8. KM technology in the cyberorganization
  9. Measure what matters: A practical approach to knowledge management
  10. A Framework for Delivering Value with Knowledge Management: The AMS Knowledge Centers
  11. Encouraging User Adoption — Get Creative!
  12. Knowledge-based Communities of Practice at AMS

Articles about Sue

1. KM Thought Leader of the Week

I was asked by APQC, “If you were invited to give a keynote speech on knowledge management, what words of wisdom or lessons learned would you impart?” Here is Sue’s answer from June 10, 2008:

My immediate answer would be is that if I were asked to give a keynote speech on knowledge management I’d probably turn it down! That term has so much baggage and means so many different things to different people, that I’d be sure to not meet someone in the audience’s expectations and I hate to get bad reviews when I give a presentation!

These days, I’m much more interested in giving speeches on topics where I can leave the audience with at least one (hopefully more) very specific takeaway that they can act on immediately. So, when I talk about deploying SharePoint successfully, I toss out as many of the ideas in my ‘bag of tricks’ as I can fit in to the context of the speech and what I can remember to share (it’s not easy to remember all the good stuff unless people ask me lots of questions so I know what they want to hear!).

I don’t like to talk about generic ‘knowledge management’ but rather about ‘Hey, you’re trying to achieve some business objectives with this collaboration technology you’ve already chosen to invest in, and I’ve got some experiences that you may find useful. I’ll tell you what I can in an hour, I’ll give away even more in my book and my blog and my website, and if you want more, I’m available for hire!’ Sure, all your great advice comes in there too, but I try to embed these sometimes ‘squishy’ concepts into practical action steps in the context of a very specific project.

I don’t feel like I’m a big thinker like Larry Prusak or Steve Denning — I’m a little closer to the ‘dirt’ than they are and I try to get my ‘big thoughts,’ assuming I have them, into something much closer to building solutions. That’s why I totally agree with everything that you’ve said and I embed that in techniques and artifacts to actually make these ideas real for project teams who struggle with proving the value of the investments they are making in both the concepts of KM and the tools, technologies, and processes in which they’ve invested to actually do it and get some meaningful results.

2. Interview: Susan Hanley on SharePoint and Knowledge Management by Mimi Dionne

I didn’t really choose KM — it kind of chose me based on a job assignment. Of course, I now say that my interests, education and background play nicely into this discipline, but I didn’t really choose — I got a project assignment that stuck! I have a psychology undergraduate degree and an MBA in information systems management. At a crucial moment in my career, my manager asked me on behalf of our CEO to work on a KM initiative.

I was with a global consulting firm (American Management Systems) and our CEO felt that we needed to build communities of practice across the company to more effectively share best practices in our core disciplines. I was asked to head up the initiative and it turned out to be an incredible opportunity.

I have always viewed KM as being more about people and processes than about technology, but as the technology has evolved, the results have enabled the discipline to persist.

3. Making connections at KMWorld 2011 by Judith Lamont

Measuring the success of any knowledge management initiative is a challenge but is important to do. The process of developing metrics entails setting objectives that help guide the project’s direction and capture lessons learned, according to conference speaker Susan Hanley. Objectives might include increasing customer satisfaction or improving risk management. Especially valuable are quantitative metrics that document time or cost savings. Hanley also pointed out that it is important to have a plan to act on the metrics once they are obtained.

4. Implementing SharePoint 2010 — An ECM manager’s view by Marc Solomon

Sue Hanley echoes the need for simplicity in her advice to keep metadata values unique, commonly understood and as brief as possible.

5. An environment for innovation: American Management Systems by Andy Moore

“Innovating is not something you can mandate, but you can create sustained opportunities for collaboration and innovation. That’s what we do,” said Susan S. Hanley, director of knowledge management initiatives for American Management Systems.

Hanley and AMS have achieved the near impossible: to make “innovation” a formal, daily part of the culture at AMS. They do it by building and maintaining the “shared spaces” in which communities of interest — and those who need expertise — can meet and exchange knowledge. And that achievement earns AMS the KMWorld Best Practice Award for “Nurturing and Sustaining Innovation.”

6. Talking knowledge management in Boston

DCI’s 1998 Knowledge Conference in Boston addressed KM issues ranging from people and culture, to management and process, to technology and implementation. Here are some quotable notions:

Susan Hanley, director of Knowledge Centers for American Management Systems, said, “What I’ve noticed about all these knowledge management events is that the level of knowledge of the users is greatly increasing. They’ve become the choir and we need to stop preaching.”

7. Leading practitioners convene in San Diego — International Knowledge Management Summit focuses on solutions story

In addition to keynote presenters Peter Drucker, Bob Buckman of Buckman Labs and author Tom Koulopoulos, The Delphi Group and KMWorld have assembled a benchmark collection of knowledge management practitioners who will go on record June 8–11, 1998 at The International Knowledge Management Executive Summit (IKMS ’98) at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, recounting their experiences with knowledge management methods, issues and technologies.

In the “knowledge management leadership” track, Susan Hanley of American Management Systems, in a session titled “Creating Knowledge-Based Communities of Practice,” will discuss the technical and cultural issues faced, including a technology infrastructure based on groupware and a corporate intranet.

8. Conversations and communities by Jane Dysart

Slated as a practitioner’s forum, Braintrust International 2004 in Scottsdale, Ariz., in February focused on the people side of KM — conversations, personal interactions, collaboration and storytelling. Michael Kull illustrated the power of digital video in storytelling by showing clips of KM gurus — such as Carla O’Dell, Verna Allee, Larry Prusak, David Weinberger and Sue Hanley — and their messages.


1. SlideShare

2. If You Build It, They Will Come!

3. SharePoint/Office 365 Governance Questions

4. Introducing an Amazing Place for your Office 365 Governance and Training: the New Communication Site

5. Knowledge Management and Office 365

6. KMWorld 2017

7. KMWorld 2016 W7: Essential SharePoint: Real-World Tips & Strategies for Nontechnical Users

8. KMWorld 2014 A204: Ensuring Success With Enterprise SocialSlides

9. KMWorld 2013

10. KMWorld 2012 C105: User Adoption StrategiesSlides

11. KMWorld 2011 B204: Practical Framework for KM MetricsSlides

12. KMWorld 2010

13. KMWorld 2009

14. KMWorld & Intranets 2008 D106: Secrets of Successful Portal ImplementationsSlides

15. KMWorld & Intranets 2003 B103: Health Communities & KMSlides

16. SharePoint Symposium 2017 Sorting Through the Options to Connect & Collaborate in Office 365 — Slides

17. SharePoint Symposium 2016 “We Built It, But Why Won’t They Come?” Practical Advice to Overcome Common User Adoption and Change Hurdles for SharePoint — Slides

18. SharePoint Symposium 2014 Using Metrics to Tune Up Your SharePoint Estate — Slides


  1. The Intranet in 2018
  2. Cracking the Knowledge Management nut with Office Delve


1. Why you should care about SharePoint adoption

2. Making Governance Consumable

3. Unlocking the Secrets of SharePoint User Adoption

4. Dux Quax at Microsoft Ignite: Susan Hanley

5. How to Overcome User Adoption Hurdles for Office 365 and SharePoint

6. How To Hack the Office 365 Start Screen

7. How to Add a Hover Message to SharePoint Webparts

8. Microsoft Ignite SWAG

9. Ignite Day 3: Talking Actionable Messages with Julie Turner

10. Improve Office 365 adoption: top 10 ways

11. How to Drive SharePoint Adoption in Your Organization

12. Let business drive technology adoption efforts

13. Delve & the Office Graph — A crash course

14. The Road to @SPConf — Episode 4


1. Amazon Author Page

2. Essential SharePoint 2013: Practical Guidance for Meaningful Business Results with Scott Jamison and Chris Bortlik

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3. Essential SharePoint 2010: Overview, Governance, and Planning with Scott Jamison and Mauro Cardarelli

4. Essential SharePoint 2007: Delivering High-Impact Collaboration with Scott Jamison and Mauro Cardarelli

5. Prove It: Using Analytics to Drive SharePoint Adoption and ROI — Chapter 2: Using Analytics to Provide Clues about Business Impact

6. Improve It!: A collection of essays on using analytics to accomplish more with SharePoint- Chapter 8: Measuring the Value of Enterprise Social Technologies — PDF Copy

7. Handbook on Knowledge Management 2: Knowledge Directions edited by Clyde Holsapple — Chapter 49: A Guide for Measuring the Value of KM Investments with Geoffrey Malafsky — PDF Copy

8. Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques — Technology Applications of Communities of Practice: The Nursing Leadership Academy on Palliative and End-of-Life Care

9. Knowledge Management: The Catalyst for Electronic Government — Creating Knowledge-Based Communities of Practice: Lessons Learned from KM Initiatives at AMS

10. Knowledge Management and Virtual Organizations — Creating Knowledge-Based Communities of Practice: Lessons Learned from AMS’s Knowledge Management Initiatives

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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