How to build an intranet without breaking the bank

How to build an intranet for a large organization that employees use, without breaking the bank feature image

How to build an intranet for a large organization that employees use, without breaking the bank

As an employee of a large-scale organization, I value the possibility of finding solutions that save us financially, but don’t cut corners where it’s needed most. Working with Microsoft, there are so many fantastic ways to transport data, save data and create data. But it can sometimes lead to a mass of information without a structure to keep everything in check.

What we need to find is a system of governance that helps employees, help themselves. If you’re like me, the mere mention of compliance sends the finance alarm bells ringing. Especially after the GDPR debacle that seems to be an ongoing issue with most company leaders we speak with.

If you combine people power, new processes and testing, governance can quickly become the pariah in the room. If left unchecked, governance can get lost in the overwhelming masses of information passing through your intranet. This can become a major issue when governance is connected to legal obligations, such as GDPR, or Corporate Compliance policies. Costing you even more money with ensuing fines due to negligent document governance.

Another important point is to establish a cohesive and well-structured information architecture from the beginning of the project. Time spent organizing the data and flows at the beginning, saves time later and keeps the project from becoming a spaghetti bowl of information. Thinking about workflows and mapping out how you want people to interact, as well as how their expected behavior could be, can lay down a good foundation, from which your intranet can be built or re-designed.

Create a comfortable workplace

This guy sure does have a comfortable workplace. He must know a lot about reducing the time taken to process workflows that help to create comfortable workplaces.

Reduce time taken to process workflows and create a comfortable workplace

Instead of having to click five times, inputting data along the way, workflows can be created to remove steps and automate processes. This allows Jane from Finance to take five minutes to grab a coffee with Scott from development and talk about non-work stuff. Engaged employees talk to each other and enjoy chatting with their colleagues. Finding out about your colleagues on a personal level, helps you to understand where they’re coming from and gives you time away from your screen. It can also mean that Jane gets that last invoice out before close of day, but let’s take the people approach. What can I say, we’re in the business of helping to create happy workplaces, filled with employees who are engaged and want to go to work.

Other parts to consider is the brand. Branding? I hear you ask. Yes, branding is super important as it helps to unify employees under one banner. This in turn, encourages them to actually use the resource you have spent money on to create. It also shows you value the company and are passionate about it. Another important point to include is the ease of use. When information is color coded departmentally, or depending on how the News item is tagged, it makes it easier to find.

In larger organizations, localization of news content is quite important to help people feel they belong and encourage them to use the intranet on a daily basis.

This guy definitely automated his workflows

This guy definitely automated his workflows.

Automating workflows to free up time for exploration

By automating workflows and repetitive tasks, it leaves time for contemplating how business needs can remain on top of employee’s minds and it also gives us all time to consider. Having time to consider is paramount to growth as it gives people an outlet to find a way forward and come up with new ideas they can build upon. This has a two-way effect. Employees are happy they get to explore new ideas and companies benefit, in turn, from the new ideas. Currently, if we continue conducting business as our predecessors have, we run the gambit of loosing the younger generation, along with the precious sales acquired through new thought processes and products.

By automating workflows, employees are super happy that the most mundane tasks are handled by a flow. The human element still needs to be nurtured, but this can be done at a deeper level, once processes are automated. There will be some push back on automating processes, which is perhaps inevitable. The important part to mention and reiterate to employees is the opportunities that will be created for their development due to the automation being put in place.

I don't know about you, but this lady looks quite happy with the self-service options. Although we do know, she didn't get on with George from IT, so self-service is the bomb for her.

Help employees to help themselves with self-service options

Creating self-service options for employees empowers them in the sense that they don’t have to ask someone how to do what looks like a simple task. Providing links and informative texts, alongside their usual work tasks, makes it a quick step to find what they need. Much like when you Google something. Google is just a big self-service provider when you think about it. Information abounds and you can find what you need to know quickly.

As a general rule, intranet’s, no matter what their size, are held behind a login and with Microsoft SharePoint, Bing is used as the search engine for external links. Internal search in intranet’s are a world unto themselves entirely.

By tagging posts, documents and pretty much everything in your intranet, it makes finding what you need easier. But what happens when people forget to tag, or there’s so many, you’re not sure which tags to search for, or add to your content?

Educating employees works to an extent, but having an organized system for tagging takes it one step further. As does creating site collections for Departments. Creating a Department site collection, makes it easy for employees to go straight to their Department pages and see what’s happening, any policies and procedures they need to check, news on equipment, meeting s and people to contact. For example; Employees could go to their IT Department site and see they need to speak with HR about filling out an employee survey or read about the IT Department gaming night next Thursday held at Don’s house.

Creating mini communities helps to keep governance under control. If employees work well together and have a chance to know more about their colleagues, it makes for a cozier workplace. Especially in the ever-changing remote global workforce that is now the norm. We have employees all over the world, but through Teams, we can talk, share screens and be in touch with each other. Time zones can sometimes be a challenge, but by using Teams, employees can take meetings out of normal work hours at home.

In the current employment climate, having a work life balance and flexible work arrangements is one of the key points for employee retention. Working in the software industry, highly skilled employees are often cherry picked by competitors, or clients who might want an in-house solution. It begs the question of how can we retain employees?

All hands

This team looks pretty happy about working together!

Create a culture where people want to stay

Creating streamlined business processes alleviates the stress employees can feel when they can’t find what they need, and, in most cases alleviates system failures. By creating a workplace where ideas are cherished and encouraged, and longer-term planning is considered a plus, instead of jumping from one quick win to another, it encourages better employee engagement.

You don’t need to be Uber or Zalando. Small steps to begin with can free up resources to encourage growth and take your business to the next level. Treating employees with respect and trust, are the most important facets of creating a culture where people want to stay. Of course, financial incentives help, but if your employee leaves due to money, there is always an underlying reason why the money became attractive. Were they being treated well? Were you taking them for granted? Was there ample time for them to grow while still sticking to business needs?

So, you can see, building an intranet for a large organization revolves around people. Creating a culture where people want to stay, by automating processes, freeing up time and helping people to help themselves.

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