How is your intranet working? Do you want it to be simpler and help your employees to quickly find what they are looking for? We share our best efficiency tips.
The function that is by far the most requested one in an intranet is the provision of contact details of employees and other parts of the organisation. Another much-requested feature of an intranet is often about providing simple access to work-related information. This can be facts about employee appraisals, holiday conditions or leave on the day before a bank holiday.
There is therefore often a major focus on how to package this kind of information, as well as the most convenient way of delivering it and presenting it to the user.
It is positive to have a correct focus on the user’s needs and requirements, but it is important not to forget that it is in the actual use of the intranet that the genuine efficiency improvements can be achieved.
Because the activity itself, having information posted or shared in an intranet, is seldom important in itself. It is what happens with the content when users interact with it or with one another that is interesting. This is where value is generated.
To succeed with your intranet and to make it a contributory factor towards higher efficiency among employees, we have drawn up a list of Dos & Don’ts:
1. Set up clear goals describing what you want to achieve
What do you in particular want to get out of the intranet? Here an Impact Mapping exercise with impact goals is a good method of finding out what the business’s needs look like. To find out what the needs and desires look like, many parts of the organisation must be involved in this work: the IT department, communication and representatives from all the different parts of the organisation. At Ale Municipality, with whom I worked, the needs were obviously different, depending on whether you were talking to representatives of a pre-school or municipal leaders – that’s how it is in all organisations.
Once you have identified desires and needs, you have to prioritise. Sifting out things isn’t easy! It’s part of the job. But one thing is clear: you can’t do everything for everyone. If you did, you’d create a monster that would be cumbersome for both users and administrators. If you want to find out even more about impact mapping and how to do this, there is more in our blog about the best properties of the Impact Map.
2. Focus on transparency
There are a number of philosophical parameters that I believe encourage efficiency. One of them is to have an ambition to maintain transparency in the intranet. I am convinced that if users have a greater insight into what is happening in the organisation, they will feel more involved. By creating opportunities for interactivity between the user/users and users/organisation, you also create insight among employees about where and how they can make a difference, on both a large and a small scale.
3. Create places for an informal dialogue
The intranet should not be a place where 13 people can create content. Create the conditions for engagement and opportunities to interact, as this will generate collaboration. Relax the rules a little and allow users to be efficient outside the professional sphere – let them create groups for a “Lunchtime Running Club” or a bartering group. Anything that can make employees more efficient, in their work persona or their private persona, is good.
But, as with nearly all trends, the pendulum can easily swing too far. There is a tendency within the industry for the intranet to become a social hub, similar to Facebook, which is somewhat excessive. Don’t forget the basic aim of the intranet: to provide support in complex questions and processes. Like many other things, it’s a balancing act.
4. Maintain active administration
The real work begins when the actual development work has been completed and the launch has taken place. This will make a very big contribution to increased efficiency; it is now that you can create the real value. Maintaining an active, skilled administrative organisation that can manage the product you have created is essential if it is to achieve all of your goals.
Far too often people invest large amounts of money on a development project and are then unable to devote any resources to its administration apart from basic management of the servers.
… trying to include everything
Not all information that was held in your old intranet will be moved over to the new one. The principle here is the same as when you move to a new home; you don’t take everything, most people have a clear-out every time they move and throw away things that are no longer used.
You can’t take the same information and information structure with you to the new one and cross your fingers for positive changes – then nothing will happen. Trying to change the way you display information is not enough either, it takes more preparatory work than that, including a review of every piece of information you take with you. Expect this work to take some time.
… buying an off-the-shelf tool
Don’t try to buy a fully pre-packaged intranet tool if you don’t know what you want to achieve. Many people are keen to buy a packaged solution and there are also suppliers who try to sell the product. But if there is no plan for what kind of change the intranet is to achieve, it is impossible to evaluate the solution.
There is nothing inherently wrong about buying a ready solution with functions, but you must look at what goals it is to achieve in the organisation. Otherwise it may ultimately prove to be a pretty expensive solution.
Do you want to find out more and be inspired about intranets? Come along to our inspirational presentation in Gothenburg and Malmö in March.