Do you have an Intranet at work?

If you have to work with colleagues on documents, chances are you do.

Do you love it? Do you hate it?

JFDI has thought long and hard about what makes a good Intranet. We’d like to share with you our top tips for Intranet success.

What does a Great Intranet look like?

  • First of all, Intranets are not the same as web sites.
  • Your Intranet is a place where work happens.
  • Users build documents, collaborate and publish.
  • They drive business processes.
  • Your company disseminates news.
  • Good Intranets strengthen connections between team members and help integrate disparate business systems.
  • Your Intranet is to information, as your office is to people.

Challenges you might face

  • An Intranet will live and die by its adoption.
  • Even well designed Intranets can wither on the vine without sponsorship from board level.
  • And a poor Intranet design will fail to engage your users, even with stakeholder buy-in.

Before you begin: Sponsorship, Training and Governance

Get sponsorship

  • ‘Build it and they will come’ rarely works as a strategy for designing an Intranet.
  • Intranet projects just led by IT run the significant risk of damaging user adoption.
  • User adoption increases when IT has a mandate from senior management.

Plan to train your users

  • User training also makes a big difference to the success of your Intranet project.
  • It can take many forms, and you need to customise it to your audience and the culture in your organisation.
  • You can help your users get to grips with your Intranet in many ways.
  • Email communications, how-to guides, group presentations, learning videos and one-on-one sessions all help.

Establish governance

  • Define the vision and rationale for the Intranet.
  • Document how to use it, where things should go, how to secure content.
  • Define the information types, the features and the processes the Intranet will be a home to.
  • Be prescriptive in your guidance, but accommodate exceptions with escalation procedures.

Designing your Intranet

  • These days, the bar is set high.
  • Almost everyone uses web sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon.
  • Tablet and smart phone use reaches almost 50% of the population.
  • The average level of computer literacy in the workplace is at much higher levels than just a few years ago.
  • Users expect our IT systems to join up; to be intuitive, fast and capable.
  • A pretty, eye-catching design is significant to user adoption.
  • But the key differentiator between your web site and your Intranet comes down to functionality.
  • Your Intranet is a place of work where day-to-day information gets presented and business processes get enacted.

Pillar #1: Inform

Traditional Intranets revolve around the dissemination of internal communications and company news. They are also portals for collaboration and document management. Your Intranet should be a channel for your organisation to deliver news. It should also let users filter and opt-in to relevant topics.

News delivery should also apply to both the personal and the team. Intranets have always had a capacity to show recent documents. Take this further by showing users their recent documents and those of their team.

Pillar #2: Instruct

Your Intranet allows users to perform a wealth of business tasks. From document management and knowledge management to even managing a whole business process. Good Intranets offer users guidance. Steer your users through procedures both commonplace and those less often repeated.

Guide users through processes and allow them to turn guidance off. This is key in reducing friction when users need to switch between tasks. More so when they return to tasks that span or repeat every few months.

Pillar #3: In Focus

Context is important to users. Focus on user context. What are their daily tasks? Apply Occam’s razor to strip away the irrelevant, without making things hard to find. Your Intranet should adapt their experience depending upon what your users want to achieve.

User experience should be relevant to the audience. Relevant to what they want to achieve, when they want to achieve it. Use dashboards and search portals to help users get at the information they need, fast.

Pillar #4: Integrate

CRM, HR, accounts, payroll, employee benefits, an enterprise can have dozens of disparate systems. An Intranet should bring them together, identify definitive data sources, automate data transport and avoid slow and inaccurate rekeying. Lots of Intranet platforms come with a workflow engine – make sure you use it. You can maximise Return on Investment with appropriate integration between your systems.

Pillar #5: Infer

You are able to count user journeys, not just page loads.There are several possible paths through each task you can take; measuring each journey, observing user behaviours, measuring the use of different tools and also measuring efficiency, participation and engagement.

Common metrics include:

  • Visit count
  • Post count
  • Documents contributed
  • Share count
  • Use of metadata
  • User journey
  • Task completion

Pillar #6: Inspire

People get motivated by two kinds of reward: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards are benefits that completion of the task itself gives them. Extrinsic rewards include those that management or the system can offer.

A reward can be the suspension of a stick, or the provision of a carrot. Whatever the reward system, it needs you to match the culture of your organisation.

Extrinsic rewards are usually easier to get and easier to give. Earning points or climbing a leader board are examples of this. People’s attention span and hunger for these is generally shorter lived. Intrinsic rewards take more planning and investment, but their effects are often more pronounced.

Balancing these two kinds of reward is tricky. Consider the use of challenges, games and difficulty levels. Successful implementations involve levelling up to get harder challenges. Also consider a mechanism to offer praise from colleagues. This is a common way to help build community.

Wrapping Up

Intranet design can be technology agnostic. There are many platforms that enable all these possibilities.

At JFDI, we follow a best-of-breed approach. With Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint Online, Yammer, Flow, PowerApps and Microsoft Azure we deliver the 6 Pillars of Great Intranets.

JFDI’s Motivate Everyone gamification initiative builds on this foundation to deliver a bespoke, branded UX (user experience) tailored to your needs. And if you have systems to integrate, then our Automate Everything team is here to assist.

Get in touch if you’d like learn more about what me and the team at JFDI can do to help you to get the build your Intranet.