The intranet issues that can be solved through careful planning and the right system
Intranets have grown into their own goliath spreads, with knowledge being passed through systems, along with important updates, News, and compliance information. With SharePoint and it’s connected biosphere of apps linked to Microsoft O365, and external software programs, it can quickly become a mess of information that is not reaching its intended audience.
To begin with, let’s break down the basic needs of an intranet.
What is in an intranet? Or more importantly, what do I need in my intranet?
SharePoint intranets have a wealth of options available when looking at what is in an intranet. It is a great base to start with, as it connects directly to all the Microsoft O365 applications and external programs, such as Salesforce, Slack and many others, can be quite easily integrated into the platform.
According to SMG/CMSWire digital Workplace survey 2019, 48.2% of people said that digital workplaces were extremely or very important in terms of prioritization in organizations. (SMG/CMSWire 2019)
Intranets are growing more intelligent by the day and are forming the basis of many digital workplaces. The value of having a means to communicate to your employees on matters of importance, sits next to the blooming business of creating heightened, or unforgettable, employee experiences. With careful planning and by creating project Groups, Teams can help with this, to tackle internal organizational information and knowledge sharing, is now considered the norm.
An intranet is now more than a place where documents are stored. It is a News wire, an employee compliancy tool, a knowledge network and last, but not least, a means for your employees to communicate with each other. At first it seems wrong for everything to be out in the open, for people to ask about IT issues on the Noticeboard, or for the coffee machine issue to be reported there. But more and more, it is becoming accepted and transparency, a vital component of modern businesses, is out in the open.
It also opens up communication to different levels of the business. Where before, it might have been difficult to get an audience with the CEO, or dev team, now you can tag them in a Noticeboard post, create an open question or comment and they will (hopefully) see it. There’s also the added bonus of being able to share all the wonderful work everyone is doing in your company. Where success stories were maybe only seen on social posts, now they are up on the intranet homepage, or a new customer project can be shared and celebrated from an intranet mobile app.
Having the base structure of SharePoint enables vast possibilities and it can be extended to create something truly inspiring for employees and management alike. For departmental communications, having a well thought out and set up intranet can do wonders for employee engagement. Let’s take a look at the main points an intranet can help solve.
1. Employee Engagement
For HR departments, employee engagement is one of the most important endeavors to help with employee retention and creating a happy workforce. Internal communications created on your intranet, combined with social events, training and education, is an easy way for HR to provide a service to employees. This is where creating a well-considered strategy and introducing the right system for communicating comes into play.
2. People strategy and easing into a new way of working
According to Fast Company, the convenience of working from home, combined with the assimilation of home and work spaces, leads to higher worker productivity levels. So long as the employee still feels connected to their colleagues, via different channels, such as a well-functioning intranet. Meetings conducted with videos where everyone can see each other’s faces and hear their voices, such as you can in Teams, also ads to the feeling of belonging to a larger group.
It also means that you can always be expected to be on, with the globalization of workplaces happening at lightening speeds. Part of your People Strategy could be to keep an eye on employees and record meetings, for employees to watch and listen to at their convenience.
Then again, some people are so excited about their work, they end up checking through their company Yammer whilst on maternity leave, or when holidaying by the beach. When you have created a virtual workplace where employees want to check your intranet News and participate in your Yammer when on leave, you know you’re onto a good thing and your people strategy, in combination with your well planned and thought through intranet strategy is working.
3. Clarify Strategies across the organization
We’re all in this together and having transparency across your organization creates trust between employees and management. Having a clear strategy also puts employees at ease and enables them to question strategies, which is important for breaking down silos. It also shows that management are listening to employees and their voices can be heard.
4. Using intranets to solve internal issues and external communications
Not only can an intranet be used for internal communications, it can be used to keep external users informed. A great case study can be found in Frederiksund Municipality, where they used a few different systems in combination with their intranet to keep the people in their Municipality informed, and to also help them help themselves.
Rambøll created an entire project management system in their intranet, a major part of their business strategy. Intelligent intranets are only limited to the imagination of the strategic team behind the planning and with close scrutinization of user needs. Without looking at the user experience and how systems can be designed to cater to business needs, you could be creating an intranet or digital workplace that resembles a ghost town. Nobody coming in or out, except occasional tourists who get spooked by the quietness.
What can you do to create an intranet that pushes the limits and sets the scene for an intelligent, modern workplace?
To put it simply, four words come to mind. Strategy. Plan. Build. Governance. Strategy is where you decide what you want, who you want to use it, what information you need to share, how you want people to interact and your end goals of engagement.
Some points to consider for Strategy are listed below.
Clear intranet strategy
- Consider who is going to be using the intranet and what their current issues are.
- Create current user workflows and see how they can be improved from the users input from step one.
- Look at business needs and decide what information and functionality needs to be included
- Take into consideration, the level of technicalknowledge of your workforce when considering the strategy. It’s all well and good to create a high tech, state of the art intranet, but if you need a team of highly trained developers to show people how to use it and spend vast amounts of time troubleshooting issues, your budget will blow out very quickly.
- After initial strategic research has been undertaken, a list of combined business and user needs should be compiled, and a way forward determined through careful examination. The end goal being a well-developed strategy that is ready for the planning stage.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
When it comes to planning there are six main points to remember
- Planning is part of the process and will hopefully lesson the risk of unexpected time constraints and costs.
- Based on the strategy, planning prepares you for what’s ahead
- A good plan enables you to allocate resources and ensure the allotted project delivery time can be met.
- Good intranet planning can help to keep costs within a specified budget and cater to any unexpected cost risks, by adding 10% on top of initial budget planning. If you come under budget, you’re going to make the finance department very happy.
- Having a clear planning strategy helps to get everybody who is working on the intranet project on board. If employees and consultants alike see a well-planned project outline and implementation plan, the way forward becomestransparent and less stress is the outcome. Creating a situation where everyone on the project is engaged and ready to put in the hard work needed to create a modern, intelligent intranet.
- Creating an after launch continuing governance strategy is of the utmost importance for ensuring the intranet is not only used, but also governed.
If we build it, they will come
While it’s a nice thought in theory, they don’t always come if you build it. Through strategy and planning, building the intranet should be quite straight forward. What a lot of companies seem to forget is the onboarding of the new intranet. You’ve built a state-of-the-art intranet, but nobody knows about it or how to use it. Theoretically, through the strategy and planning stages, you would’ve considered your users and built an intranet that created an unforgettable employee experience. But not everyone comes from the same box. No matter how much you plan and strategize, creating a launch campaign is the final step of solving your intranet issues. Some points to consider for your intranet launch are listed below.
- Let users know there is a new intranet coming. You can do this by sending out a companywideemail, orput up a notification post on your existing intranet, if you have one. Put up some posters, if your users are on-site.
- Create an awareness campaign, centered around how the new intranet works and what can be done within it.
- Create a FAQ and How to section on your new intranet home page, that is easy to find.
- Create a video showing you what you can do and some use cases of people using the new intranet.
- Order cake! Nothing gets users inspired better than offering cake and a celebration. Create hype around the new intranet. Make it easy for people to love it.
After you launch and onboard all of your employees and external users, the issue of continuing governance needs to be addressed.
When onboarding is done well, it helps a great deal whith taking care of after launch governance. There is still many points to consider and take into account when it comes to intranet launch after care.
Some of the main points to consider in relation to continuing governance of your intranet are listed below.
- Control of the myriad tools that can be used on the different platforms can be achieved with smart governance
- Govern technical performance, security issues, system compatibility and different performance streams with an intranet engine that takes governance into the account from the very beginning
- Standardize content, make it easy to find and label it with thecorrect date time stamp. Meta data and tagging are essential parts of any intranet’s continued governance
- Ensure collaboration thrives and is encouraged through company best practices and it adheres to governance rules within your corporation. This will help with the growing number of Teams sites, for example.
- Within most organizations there is a strategic direction governed by decision-makers who have put a lot of work into thinking about how the intranet will work. Including governance at theearly stages of strategic planning will help you in the long run.
How can I do all of this?
If you follow the list of suggestions and find a good team and platform to help build, or revamp, your intranet, you can solve a lot of the issues that can be faced when deciding to implement an intelligent and user centric intranet.
Check out the options possible with Wizdom and get in touch if you see something you like or want to discuss further.
Do you have questions about how you can create a personalized and intelligent intranet to increase employee engagement?
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