Most people understand the value of a good intranet enough to equip their business with one but many businesses only partially tap into that value and in worst cases, the intranet becomes a dull, lifeless and rarely used facility which is more sworn about than raved about. So here’s a few tips to ensure when making your own intranet it flies rather than flops.
Regardless of what software you use, intelligent Intranets need someone with enthusiasm and time to drive them forward. It could be someone in HR, Corporate Comms, Marketing or IT – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is:
1) They have a keen desire to see your intranet succeed.
2) They’re given appropriate amounts of time to make sure it does – either by getting their hands dirty and doing it themselves, or by inspiring others to help.
3) They’re given the freedom and trusted to make decisions about content.
Don’t imagine your intranet can be managed by one person in Internal Comms, ultimately the responsibility must be shared. Share the ownership. Offer it out to ambitious people in your organisation. The more the merrier. Give departments and teams their own space to collaborate and share.
Drive people there. Don’t email everyone in your world telling them the news up front. Give them a teaser but then make them link to the intranet to find out more.
Intelligent, timely, easy
Don’t make people search for what’s new – tell them automatically whenever something relevant to them has been added. Send them an email with a link straight to it. Not everything that gets published on your intranet will be of interest to everyone so make sure that you establish an appropriate tagging system and allow people to opt in to be automatically alerted when something new pops up which has been tagged with one of their areas of interest.
Plug your gaps
Your intelligent intranet software should be the font of all knowledge. It should be everyone’s first port of call when they need information. Your intranet’s search engine should turn up at least one result for any business term that anyone searches for – otherwise people will lose faith in it. Make sure you find out what people have been unsuccessfully searching for and make sure the next time they search they find something of use.
Make it part of everyone’s daily routine
Make your intranet the default page for everyone’s browser. Make it the place to go to in order to single sign-on to other systems. Ensure that it’s the only place you can go to access certain business functions. Iframe your systems into it. Get rid of competing sources of information. THIS is the place you will find everything.
Encourage two-way communication
Allow people to comment and express their opinion on things. Allow them to ‘Like’ content. Seek opinions by publishing polls and surveys. Build forms for people to request info, make suggestions, ask for support, register interest etc’. Your intranet should be a living, breathing place where colleagues can feel a sense of ownership and make contributions, rather than being viewed as a one-way comms channel.
Make it fun
“No!” I hear you cry – “the intranet’s for work, not some social party space.” I agree. Of course it’s for work but it isn’t going to work unless you allow people to engage and bring a little life to it. Please don’t just make it the place where HR store their policy documents and the Fire Drill procedure. Make it occasionally light – go on – be daring. Establish some social groups. Some of the biggest peaks in traffic I’ve seen have been because of a caption competition and an Easter Egg hunt!
Fame and recognition
Encourage everyone to contribute to your intranet. Authoring something which can be read by everyone in the company – up to the CEO – can boost people’s profile and get them noticed. Ensuring people feel included in the intranet boosts engagement so get everyone involved, even if it's just through commenting or "liking" articles. Think of it like facebook for work, everyone will be logging in and interacting before you know it.
Make it standard to introduce new joiners ahead of the day they join with a news article and photo. If your intranet’s worth its salt then you should be able to automatically announce upcoming birthdays and people’s anniversaries. Announce successes – give people some limelight. Your intranet’s ultimately a way of connecting your colleagues – it’ll appeal to everyone far more if it’s seen as oriented towards people rather than process.
Who’s using it?
Regularly monitor usage and ask why is it that certain departments, or offices, or even countries are making more use of the intranet than others. Talk to the heads of those areas and see what you can do to help them. Maybe a little education is needed to show people how their colleagues are deriving value, or maybe a brainstorm with the people involved. It really might not take that much effort to identify an eager and willing person who would like to lead the way for their team.
Give it a name
Calling your intranet ‘The Intranet’ is a little like calling your child ‘The Child’. It also reminds everyone of every dull corporate intranet they’ve ever met and subsequently moaned about. Call it anything but ‘The Intranet’ and you start to develop its character. “Want to find a colleague in Paris ?’ – just check Bonzo”. “Looking for our brand logos? Bonzo has them”. “Have you got something to say? Say it on Bonzo.”
See? Don’t tell me you’re not gagging to get onto Bonzo right now.
Martin Boswell is Product Director at Pancentric Digital, RAR Digital Agency of the Year 2015. Contact him for all enquiries regarding intelligent intranets and client portals. Call 0207 099 6370, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see our website for further details.
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