Best Practice: Managing a successful intranet

Overview

Making your intranet a success will involve: driving user adoption, ensuring there is uptick in the number of visitors and growth in the number of employees using social features.  

Success will be about ensuring there is a great pipeline of content, continuous improvement, and additional features that your users will love.

Moving your intranet forward takes time, effort and resources. It needs a well-established management framework that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities required to allow the intranet to operate efficiently and sustainably.

The six steps of your roadmap to sustainable intranet success are:

Establish a management framework

Focus on areas of business value

Continuously improve

Make the intranet essential for everyday users

Increase confidence in social features

Drive adoption and engage users

 

Establish a management framework

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Executive sponsorship and ownership

Like any important system or platform in a company, you need to have a business sponsor or owner of your intranet. This person should be at the C-level who: (1) has recognizable influence, (2) believes passionately in the power of the platform, (3) makes the business case for investment, clear roadblocks, and promote new initiatives, (4) pitches to senior stakeholders from other parts of the organization, and (5) discusses operation issues between cross-functional teams.

Below are some best practices for Intranet management assignments. Note, these are different from the "User roles" such as Site manager, App manager, End user, etc.

  • Intranet manager:
    • Main point of contact for your intranet
    • The ultimate overseer of the platform
  • Backup intranet manager:
    • Best practice is to have one in case the main manager is out or leaves the company 
  • Salesforce system admin:
    • Able to grant Simpplr team Support access (they also are the only ones with the power to add App managers to the platform) 
    • Technical contact 
    • Preferably someone with a background in Salesforce
  • Executive sponsor: 
    • Responsible for renewals 
    • Champion to vouch for Simpplr to other execs 

Defining process, standards, and policies

Next, you need to define the rules, policies, and guidelines so your intranet operates to its full potential. Establish clarity and guidelines for:

Focus on areas on business value

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Leadership communications

Leadership communication is one area where modern intranets can add real value. Not only can you use your intranet to deliver messages from your CEO about important matters within the company, but you can also get feedback from employees.

To demonstrate great leadership on the intranet: 

  • Deliver important messages from your CEO
  • Collect feedback from employees 
  • Encourage senior leaders to communicate on the intranet by leveraging social mechanisms like blogs, video broadcasts, sharing, commenting, etc.

Make HR a key area

Intranets love HR processes and information!

An HR- or people-themed section of your intranet will be one of the key areas employees will regularly refer to, and it’s a great way of making the intranet essential and driving adoption.

Your Human Resources page should: 

  • Ensure key information is housed for employee reference
  • Leverage Auto-Governance for your HR site
  • Encourage “employee self-service” by posting links and content that help employees find critical information
  • Reduce effort and time spent on answering and carrying out basic HR related transactions

Look after the employee directory

A central component of your modern intranet is the employee directory. This not only encourages networking and helps employees find experts, it also includes important information about each individual on their profile.

Champion your employee directory by:

  • Encouraging networking
  • Including important information on employee profiles
  • Encouraging expertise
  • Including instructions on how to fill out employee profiles and biographies
  • Connecting with your fellow colleagues

Use the modern intranet for process improvement

By allowing employees to collaborate and connect using social tools, there are often efficiency gains to be made, especially when email was the previous primary method of communication.

Typical processes that can be made more efficient using social tools include:

  • Locating experts around the business and getting quick answers
  • Coordinating answering customer queries among frontline staff
  • Collaborating on bids and tenders
  • Learning and training, especially when blended with more structured approaches
  • Encouraging ideation initiatives from employees can generate millions of dollars in savings
  • Providing peer-to-peer support to complement standard help desk support
  • Onboarding new hires and getting to know new colleagues

Broadcast company metrics

Measure your progress and report to senior stakeholders with a data-driven view of your intranet using KPIs. Reporting against KPIs demonstrates value and shows you are moving forward (or not)!

To improve your intranet platform, it is important to gather data & feedback to:

  • Notice inevitable differences and range of opinions 
  • Analyze what is/isn't working  
  • Seek out opinions of users by running regular intranet satisfaction surveys and workshops 
  • Carry out usability testing to learn the time it takes to successfully complete major tasks 

Combined data provides you with direction and the basis for a business case for your next set of improvements.

Continuously improve

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Create a schedule of regular improvements

Creating a regular schedule of improvements such as extra features, bug fixes and new content areas helps to keep the intranet on track and moving forward.

Having regular updates can:

  • Provide some structure and deadlines for your IT department and content owners to work around
  • Show senior stakeholders how the intranet keeps improving
  • Allow for any unexpected changes and opportunities to increase the value of your intranet

Allow for experimentation and learn from it

Because your modern intranet has so many potential uses, there is always room for experimentation. Actively encourage different groups and individuals to try out new things. View your intranet as a laboratory and carry out experiments yourself!

Promote experimentation on the intranet by:

  • Actively encouraging different groups and individuals to try out new things
  • View your intranet as a laboratory and carry out experiments
  • Follow proven avenues and avoid discovered pitfalls to continuously improve your intranet

Gather data & feedback

One of the secrets of continuous improvement is knowing exactly what to improve! Inevitably there will be a range of opinions of what to implement and prioritize.

To improve your intranet platform, it is important to gather data & feedback to:

  • Notice inevitable differences and range of opinions 
  • Analyze what is/isn’t working 
  • Seek out opinions of users by running regular intranet satisfaction surveys and workshops 
  • Carry out usability testing to learn the time it takes to successfully complete major tasks 

Get inspiration from other organizations

Seeing examples of other intranets can be highly informative and guide you on the right path. It can be inspiring, spark new ideas and show just how much is possible.

You can arrange a visit to other companies. Many other intranet managers are happy to help and exchange ideas as long as you respect confidentiality.

Ways to see what other organizations are up to:

  • Networking groups
  • Online communities
  • Case studies
  • Competitions
  • Publications
  • Conferences
  • Collections of screenshots

Make the intranet essential for everyday users

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Focus on day-to-day tasks

Internal communications are an important function of the intranet, but most employees primarily want to use the intranet to be able to get their job done. 

Making the intranet a place where the majority of employees can complete common tasks means that your intranet will become an essential destination for your workforce.

To achieve a more task-focused intranet:

  • Create navigation/information architecture that guides employees toward tasks
  • Add links to different applications so the intranet becomes a gateway to the wider set of digital tools across the company
  • Create content with clear, written expectations of how tasks can be completed

Make it diverse

While inevitably the focus of central intranet teams is managing key areas and internal communications-led content such as news, don’t neglect other parts of your organization! Some of the most important activities actually happen in local business areas and within different groups.

To be proactive with your intranet you should:

  • Not neglect other parts of your organization
  • Focus on how the intranet can make a real difference in employees’ day-to-day
  • Spend time with different groups to understand unique needs and pain points
  • Use the intranet to solve immediate problems

Use personalization to drive relevance

When employees log into the intranet they want to see content that is relevant to them. If they can’t, they’ll stop visiting!

Utilizing intranet personalization can:

  • Target employees’ content based on their role, location, country, region, function, or line of business
  • Create feeds based on group membership or communities to further increase intranet experience

Personalized content leads to a far better intranet experience, and ultimately higher adoption.

Organize content for ease of access and findability

Studies have shown that employees waste hours each week trying to find resources they need. Poor findability represents a huge drain on productivity, in addition to being profoundly frustrating. An intranet that contributes to these concerns is not a good intranet.

To make information more easily accessible: 

  • Structure the intranet navigation around employee thoughts and behaviors 
  • Use sensible labels to improve employee search with navigational aid such as indexes or highly structured landing pages 
  • Encourage Site owners and authors to tag content via topics and employees to tag conversations via hashtags

Increase confidence in social features

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Allow honesty

Modern intranets are much more dynamic and vibrant environments than traditional employee communication systems!

The more your intranet becomes an open two-way channel, the greater value it delivers. It makes content more engaging, helps to encourage an open and transparent culture, facilitates connections and allows senior management to derive valuable insights about how the employees are feeling.

To encourage employee honesty you should: 

  • Allow more dynamic and vibrant environments than static content 
  • Enable your intranet to facilitate honest and open dialogue to increase transparency 
  • Allow employees to comment and rate news content

Management a community of community managers

One of the challenges of modern intranets is to make sure that high quality interactions within community areas keep on flowing. To enable this, each community group will need a community manager.

To promote intranet usage, use managers to:  

  • Engage with the intranet by leveraging the social mechanisms available
  • Have governance meetings among leadership
  • Encourage the use of content validation via the Auto-Governance engine
  • Meet specific needs of employees and be the voice of the company

Getting management to lead by example

Having managers using your intranet encourages use within teams, demonstrates endorsement and effectively gives “permission to play”.

Leverage managers who are supportive, or coach the ones who are curious so you have some inspiring examples to refer to.

Encourage non-business groups

Although workplaces need to be business-focused, they should also be fun! 

A modern intranet is a great place for employees who share common interests to socialize and interact. Typical non-business groups who use modern intranets include those in hobby-based groups, such as photography clubs, or those looking for specific areas to swap recipes or travel tips.

Actively encouraging non-business groups to use your intranet has many advantages, including: 

  • Driving a sense of community in the company 
  • Making the modern intranet more engaging and less “corporate”, thereby driving adoption 
  • Getting people accustomed to using social tools who may not necessarily have used them before

Drive adoption and engage users

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Design community group sites around different needs

In larger organizations with employees spread over different locations, it can be very challenging to promote use of the intranet to the entire workforce with only a small central intranet team.

Use community advocates to:

  • As local champions and experts
  • Help to promote use, answer questions and even carry out training
  • Keep them engaged as a community and make sure their efforts are recognized
  • Can help promote new intranet features and drive up adoption levels

Gamification

Gamification can be used as a design or implementation tactic to help drive adoption and engagement.

A common approach is to award points and badges for specific achievements, such as sharing knowledge or making a contribution to the intranet. Leaderboards can be created to show how people and teams are performing.

Gamification can help:

  • Drive participation
  • Accentuate positive behaviors aligned with company culture
  • Add humor 
  • Galvanize Site owners to take actions to move higher up the table

Celebrate success

Make sure you celebrate the successes! Tell others about your successes to encourage use and to make those involved in the intranet feel that their roles have value. Let your stakeholders know! Create credentials and statistics to show the value of your intranet.

Ideas to celebrate success for: 

  • Leverage analytics data and celebrate departments with the most adoption 
  • Set benchmarks for user participation 
  • Encourage engagement with internal competitions 
  • Celebrate users who have liked the most content/posts/replies 
  • Celebrate departments who perform the most searches

Focus on change management

In order to drive adoption, focus some of your efforts on change management. 

Target your efforts to the needs of groups so content is relevant to them, including when working with senior management. If necessary, leverage the knowledge and enthusiasm of your network of advocates to help you. 

Here are possible options:

  • Traditional communications
  • Roadshows
  • Workshops
  • One-on-one sessions
  • Self-help training - “how-to” videos
  • New hire onboarding processes 

Use the intranet for campaigns and events

Your intranet should be your number one communications channel - so make sure you use it! When there are major events and initiatives (both internal and external), make sure they're covered on the intranet. This can help increase the number of visits.

To promote internal campaigns and events: 

  • Make the intranet your primary communication channel 
  • Use the intranet to share: 
      • Quarterly results 
      • Major conferences 
          • New strategy launches 
          • Live Q&A 

Promoting events and initiatives on the intranet will help increase adoption.

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