Not all intranets are created equal.
Great intranets increase productivity, knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and delivery on strategy. Lousy intranets are at best repositories for leave forms, but more dangerously, with the advent of social media and employees’ concomitant expectations from their experiences on the web, they can become bottlenecks and a source of frustration and disengagement.
Here are ten lessons that we have learned from developing Intranet strategies for large corporates.
Hard code the organisational strategy into the intranet
Interactive tools on the intranet enable much more robust interaction between employees and departments. It lets employees do things far more effectively and quickly, including the wrong things…
The organisational strategy needs to be examined in terms of where it is going, how it is configured to get there and the key performance areas in order to support each employ on the intranet.
By profiling each employee we can customise the intranet so that they only see what is relevant to them, this reduces information overload and communication fatigue. Profiling also enables us to attach employees to certain projects, track on line behaviour, understand organisational networks, or to search for employees based on their skills and experience and availability.
Processes are the glue within the organisation. The more effective the processes, the more effectively the organisation functions. Buy evaluating which processes are responsible for creating the most competitive advantage and optimising them on the Intranet, you create high performance organisations.
It is important to bear in mind that technology must enable organisations, particularly with new social media functionalities. Organisations shouldn’t be squashed into processes within technologies.
There are other technologies in the organisation which could be integrated into the Intranet to provide useful data, for example MS Outlook could be integrated into SharePoint 2010 to ensure that only available employees are surfaced when searching for resources across the organisation for projects.
Other technologies which we have found useful to integrate include SAP which supports the organisational processes for servicing customers and SAS data-mining tools.
Have a strong content governance structure
An intranet is only as good as the relevancy and currency of its content. Ensure that roles are defined; owners, authors and approvers are trained; content management functions are built into the job responsibilities; and process champions are identified.
Ensure user adoption
Due to the federated structure of large organisations we recommend that you get inputs from all the different business units and departments during the course of the project.
Several rounds of usability testing should be conducted during the design and development of the intranet.
Road shows, timely communication through emails and web meetings and efficient internal marketing should be conducted throughout the roll out.
Reserve time for beta testing where users from different departments do multiple ‘test drives’ and provide feedback.
Technologies are better adopted when people see the purpose of using them, they are intuitive and when they make the user look and feel good, yet another reason to profile employees and map the digital processes to the way they work in the real world.
More isn’t necessarily better
A portal with a lot of outdated content has very little value.
During the planning stages of content migration, identify which content is outdated or irrelevant. Conduct content identification exercises with your departments using content architectures and migrate or create new content as applicable.
Strong search is important
Search is the most frequently used functionality on any Intranet, be it people search or content search. Provide different ways of searching, but keep it simple. The majority of users like to just key in a keyword, press ‘enter’ and be provided with relevant results.
The intranet should help many people be more productive, using their time to full potential instead of trying to find information for half the time.
If you are using SharePoint 2010 create document libraries which enable information to be created once and updated in one place despite multiple views, that way all the information on the intranet will be kept consistent.
Listen to what users have to say. Provide multiple avenues for gathering feedback and be open to feedback regardless of how harsh or positive it might be. Listening to the users is the best way of identifying user behavioural patterns and enabling you to keep improving the Intranet.
The intranet isn’t an IT-driven initiative
Many companies think of the intranet as an IT-driven initiative. This isn’t true and should not be the way an intranet is approached.
As the department responsible for improving communication, Corporate Communication is the champion of the communication, the same goes for the role of HR and line management in employee relationships, and operations in process optimisation.
It should be a partnership with IT bringing new ways of using technology to the forefront and enabling the company through tools that support their workflows on the intranet.
About Digital Bridges
Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.
Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.
Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.
To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on firstname.lastname@example.org