Tag Archives: Employee Engagement

Ten lessons learned from successful intranets

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.

Profiling

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.

Process

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.

Integration

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

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 katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets

Using the Balanced Scorecard to design your Digital Strategy

The Balanced Scorecard1 was developed by Kaplan and Norton as a strategic approach and performance management system, which enables organisations to translate a company’s vision and strategy into implementation. It works  from 4 perspectives:

  • Financial perspective;
  • Customer perspective;
  • Business process perspective; and
  • Learning and growth perspective.

These perspectives are a useful departure point for translating Organisational Strategies into implementable Digital Strategies.

The Financial Perspective

Timely and accurate financial data is always be a priority, but the emphasis on financial issues can lead to an unbalanced situation with regard to other perspectives, therefore we use the financial perspective as a quantification of the success of the other elements of the Digital strategy and programmes.

The Financial perspective is satisfied when we are able to capture financial information to report on the period. Generally, when implementing a Balanced Scorecard Digital Strategy, we determine which numbers we will be interested in seeing at the end of the financial period and how we will quantify the success of the implementation and applications.

These numbers could include ROI on the digital investment, percentage increase in sales, reduced cost of attrition and recruitment, increased margin on innovation, R&D etc. The numbers are determined by the organisational strategy and the metrics which the organisation choose to report on. They could be as simple as Balance Sheet and Income Statement line items.

The Customer Perspective

Using the Customer perspective to develop digital strategies should be the most lucrative aspect of the digital strategy.

The customer perspective elements of the Digital Strategy include providing information through the website, sales enablers including eCommerce applications, customer self service where customers can manage their own portfolios through extranets, building communities of value where customers can network and engage with each other, crowd-sourcing initiatives so that the customer can help the organisation design products, using social media such as blogs to educate the customer, social tools to create and retain relationships and a host more applications.

When developing customer facing applications it is important to note that these are not just transactional applications and that the their value is also derived from the data that we can collect around the clients which may be lead indicators of future value. For example on-line community satisfaction is a lead indicator; if members are not satisfied, they will find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance is a lead indicator of future decline.

The Business Process perspective

This perspective refers to internal business processes. Key applications for digital strategies include the development of collaboration tools, document management, content management, online project management, leave management and in-situ knowledge management tools to name a few. These applications are more successful when accessed through the Intranet, and perceived by the employee to be part of the Intranet, rather than a stand alone application.

Learning and Growth perspective

This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and business improvement.

The Intranet is the key application for managing employees, programmes that can be run through the Intranet include employee relationship programmes, on-line learning and education, strategic behavioural alignment, succession programmes and performance management dashboards.

Management by Fact

The use of the Balanced Scorecard enables us to measure our Digital Strategies, applications and implementations effectively.

The goal of measuring is to see more clearly and to make wise long-term decisions. Measurements are derived from strategy to provide critical data and information about key processes, outputs and results. Data and information needed for performance measurement and improvement could include: customers, sales, market, competitive comparisons, supplier, employees, cost and financial data. Analysis uses data to determine trends, projections, and cause and effect. Data and analysis is used to support a variety of company purposes, such as planning, reviewing company performance, improving operations, and comparing company performance with competitors’ or with ‘best practices’ benchmarks.

A major consideration in performance improvement involves the creation and use of performance measures or indicators. A comprehensive set of indicators tied to performance requirements will align all business activities with organisational goals.

1 Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (2006) Alignment Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

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.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

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. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

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 katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Business, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Employee Engagement using the Interactive Intranet

The Interactive Intranet is an Intranet that has been enabled with web 2.0 tools in order to facilitate interactions between the organisation and its employees and communication and collaboration between the employees themselves.

It is important, as an organisation, to use the Interactive Intranet to engage with your employees rather than merely using it as a tool to communicate at them. By engaging with your employees, you enter into a meaningful conversation with them that is based on a deep understanding of their needs, interests and behaviours. This improves morale, motivation, productivity and loyalty.

The Interactive Intranet is a complex and fragmented environment that offers you multiple channels to create relationships with employees, for example in their communities of interest, forums, eNewsletters, blogs, on Twitter, Linked-in and more.

One of the ways that an Interactive Intranet facilitates this engagement is through the use of profiling. Employees throughout the organisation from the CEO, communication managers, personal assistants debtors clerks etc. should have profiles on the Intranet which they create with their photographs, contact details, qualifications, skills and experience.

These profiles should be, in some part visible to the entire organisation, in other parts visible only to those people who need to see it. For example, leave management on the profile needs only to be visible between the employee, her boss and the payroll team, whereas, when the employee is on leave, everyone needs to be able to see it so that they don’t make assumptions about what is getting done.

As employees work on specific projects, their profiles could be linked to these projects. Awards and commendations could also be featured on their profiles.

Employees should also be given the facility to blog and comment on other people’s blogs. These profiles are an important way for employees to build up their personal brands within the organisation, and for the organisation to understand the skill-sets and experience they have within the employee base.

Employees also need to be enabled to create or join communities of interest, for example a CRM forum, or an employment equity forum. Here they can share ideas and knowledge which improves their ability to do their job more effectively.

When communicating with employees you can segment your communication into groups such as “Frontline Staff”, “The Executive Team”, “Marketing” “The HR Payroll Team” etc. However with your employees’ profiles you can also use these to see the way they conduct their profiles, the projects they are involved in and the communities of interest they join. This makes the Interactive Intranet an extremely powerful tool for understanding your employees’ behaviour. This will give you a better idea of where to engage with them and what they’ll respond to.

Initially you will need to focus a lot of your energy on experimenting to understand exactly what works for your organisation and its employees. The important point to remember is that every interaction with your employees is an opportunity to learn more about them, to strengthen their relationship with the organisation make the most of each interaction.

You’ll need track the success of your campaigns and conversations to see which message employees are responding to. You also need to be tracking the employees’ routes through the Intranet once they’ve logged in so that you can understand their on-line behaviour, where do they go first, what is popular, where do they stop using the functions available to them, do they create communities of interest, collaborate on projects, search for skills, share documents, instant message etc. The use of business intelligence tools and analytics could surface some important employee behaviour patterns. You could develop a mood indicator to measure the state of your organisational culture

What is the content of employees’ public communication with the organisation? One of the most important words in on-line employee engagement is ‘relevancy.’ You need to understand their needs and interests so that you can target them with messages that are relevant to them in the work context within the time frames that they are thinking about what they are doing.

Armed with this information, you are able to filter employees through a conversion funnel that begins with communicating meaningfully with them and ends with a loyal, productive workforce aligned behind your brand.

Interactive Intranets give you the tools you need to understand your employees better so that you can constantly tweak your engagement process and address them with the right messages at the right time to deliver on your strategic mandate.

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.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

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. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

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 katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Configuring the Intranet to deliver on the organisational objectives

The Interactive Intranet is an Enterprise-wide web application which provides the underlying web based support to employees across the organisation. It is the digital manifestation of the business and should form the strategic backbone of everything the organisation does.

In order to ensure that the Interactive Intranet delivers on the organisation’s key business goals and strategies, there are some considerations for the business scoping of the Intranet.

Organisational Design

The Interactive Intranet should be configured in the same way as the organisation in order to deliver on the same business objectives.

Interactive Intranets extend beyond the boundaries of the traditional Internet with its content around the organisation, policies and procedures, employee ordering, general communication forums.

Great Interactive Intranets are also structured in a portal format that supports the unique organisational design of the enterprise, whether it is functional teams, matrixed reporting, teams, divisional structures etc. The related information, documentation, tools and applications for each function, reporting team, division related information and workflow are incorporated within these portals. For example, booking IT training in the IT portal, leave management on the HR Portal, cross divisional product development tools in the product teams.

Organisational Communication

It used to be that internal communication was centralised and hierarchical and from the desk of the CEO.

Modern web based communication is highly customised in order to ensure that it is relevant to each audience and doesn’t result in communication fatigue. This is achieved through audience segmentation.

The employees can be segmented in a variety of different ways, by role, EXCO, Frontline, or by seniority, manager, supervisor, labourer or by function, marketing, HR IT, or by focus, product development, debt collection etc. The optimal segmentation is determined by the organisational requirements.

Each portal manager is responsible for his communication across the organisation. This can be managed using a series of wiki’s, blogs and instant messaging, for example when communicating software upgrades or changes in policies, or sharing the new corporate image guidelines.

Environmental Scanning as a function of creating competitive advantage

Employees need to be able to find sector specific news through RSS feeds, company news as well as industry trends and other useful information on the relevant Intranet portal. The employee needs to be able to “share” and comment on all relevant information with the right individuals on the Intranet. For example, if an industry trend is identified in employee wellness, the HR team should be able to “share” this and their views on it with the Line of Business managers and other HR teams across the organisation.

Collaboration and Knowledge Management

Interactive Intranets are more than “Facebook for Business”, they can be used to manage projects on wiki’s, collaborate on client service and capture the implicit knowledge of the employees through the conversations they have on-line.

Collaboration hinges on an environment that is motivating and inspiring and where people work together to help one another succeed. A key trait of high performing organisations is shared power and high involvement where participation, collaboration, and teamwork are the way of life. This is facilitated through open dialogue and project collaboration using wiki’s RSS feeds and blogs on the Intranet.

Employees must be encouraged to join collaboration forums where they share ideas, documents and knowledge around each project.

Employee Profiles

As far as the employees go, they each need an individual personalised profile, with both public and private sections.

On the public portion of the employee’s profile, the organisation should be able to see the employee’s contact details, skills, experience, projects, awards, education etc. This will help source internal skills more easily throughout the organisation, and enable employees to build their personal brand within the organisation.

On the private portion of the profile, personalised dashboards can be used to link the work that employees are doing to the macro-strategic position of the organisation in a very visual way. The vision of the organisation should be made explicit using tools such as the Balanced Scorecard, and the individual’s key performance areas linked to the organisational scorecard and visualised on the employees’ personal profiles.

Employees should also be able to manage their leave, pension and medical aid options through shared spaces with the HR or Finance division, depending how the organisation is configured.

A word of Caution

When building Enterprisewide Interactive Intranets, it is wise to question both the existing organisational design and the existing processes and workflow. If these are not conducive to delivering on the organisational strategy, then an Interactive Intranet will exacerbate the problem. At Digital Bridges we recommend that the Intranet form part of a larger strategic initiative which reviews the organisation’s direction, destination and how it is going to get there.

The opportunity

The Interactive Intranet is the perfect opportunity to connect with the job, the organisation and the employees, to gain commitment and grow the organisation. It needs to become a strategic asset to the organisation, because it is a key component to the modern organisation’s success.

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.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

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. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

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 katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

9 Comments

Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Employee Engagement using the Interactive Intranet

The Interactive Intranet is an Intranet that has been enabled with web 2.0 tools in order to facilitate interactions between the organisation and the employees. Employees create personal profiles with their photographs, contact details, qualifications, skills and experience. They can start communities of interest, for example the CRM forum, or the employment equity forum. They can write blogs and collaborate on projects etc.

It is important, as an organisation, to use the Interactive Intranet to engage with your employees rather than merely using it as a tool to communicate to them. By engaging with your employees, you enter into a meaningful conversation with them that is based on a deep understanding of their needs, interests and behaviours. This improves morale, motivation, productivity and loyalty.

The Interactive Intranet is a complex and fragmented environment that offers you multiple channels to create relationships with employees, for example in their communities of interest, forums, eNewsletters, blogs, on Twitter, Linked-in and more.

In an environment with so much choice, it’s no longer enough to segment your communication into groups such as “Frontline Staff”, “The Executive Team” “Everybody”. Instead, you need to understand the behaviour of your employees as well as their motivations, which in turn will give you a better idea of where to engage with them and what they’ll respond to.

Initially you will need to focus a lot of your energy on experimenting to understand exactly what works for your organisation and its employees. The important point to remember is that every interaction with an employee is an opportunity to learn more about him or her, and to strengthen their relationship with the organisation, make the most of each interaction.

You’ll need track the success of your campaigns and conversations to see which message employees responding to. You also need to be tracking the employees path through the Intranet once they’ve logged in so that you can understand their on-line behaviour, do they create communities of interest, collaborate on projects, search for skills, share documents, instant message etc.

What is the content of their communication? One of the most important words in online employee engagement is ‘relevancy.’ You need to understand their needs and interests so that you can target them with messages that are relevant to them in the work context.

Armed with this information, you are able to filter employees through a conversion funnel that begins with communicating meaningfully with them and ends with a loyal, productive workforce aligned behind your brand.

Of course it goes without saying that the role of engaging with employees is a dedicated one and you need to invest in sufficient resources to maintain a dialogue with your employees, rather than sporadic bursts of communication.

Interactive Intranets give you the tools you need to understand your employees better so that you can constantly tweak your engagement process and address them with the right messages at the right time to achieve your desired outcomes.

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.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

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. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

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 katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

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Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0