5 (solvable) challenges for implementing an intranet

How do we make sure an intranet is a platform that is useful, not burdensome?

We love all things intranet. A modern intranet is not only a space to share company information. It is a valuable tool that used right, promotes productivity and inclusion. Not having an intranet can make your employees feel as though they’re searching in the dark for information they need to get their job done.

But building an intranet can turn out to be a tedious process. How do we make sure during planning you’re building an intranet will be that core portal you want it to be?

We’ve asked our customers what they think are the most common challenges to overcome when they are building a digital workplace.

Stakeholder buy in

Probably the most important piece of the puzzle when implementing an intranet is getting stakeholder buy in. It may never seem like there is a ‘right time’ to launch an intranet project to a busy professional. After all, this new intranet is going to be a change at first – one that we rarely feel like we can afford.

So how do we convince the decision makers and project teams that a new intranet is not just a nice idea, but a real need for the organisation?

Involve your C-suite early in the process and don’t expect to convince them overnight. What executive management wants to see first is hard facts and data to support your claim. You need to prove to them that this will be worth their investment.

Use real statistics and user stories. For example, McKinsey researches social technology in the workplace, and found that “using social technologies to improve collaboration and communication within companies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 percent.” This statistic comes complete with a graph that explains how they quantified that number. Research shows that the average employee spends:

  • 13 hours per week on email

  • 9 hours per week searching for information

  • 8 hours per week analyzing information

  • 6.5 hours per week communicating/collaborating with colleagues

  • 6 hours per week creating content

  • 4 hours per week publishing information

Could any of these statistics appeal to a pain point in your organisation?

We already have so many systems to keep track of, do we really need to add another?

 
This is a very common objection among users to launching an intranet. They’re concerned already about the number of systems across the company. Company culture and work burden is also an important factor. Email, messaging, project management tools, CMS, CRM, task management tools, document management. Within any given company, the list could seem endless.
 
This is where a perspective shift is needed. An intranet shouldn’t be “just another tool we have to use”. An intelligent intranet should be the launching place to everything you do online at work , with a personalised view.
 
An intranet is a launch pad, a social tool, and a news hub, all in one. It doesn’t replace the tools you already need and use, but it exists to make your work day easier, not harder. Done right, an intranet will inform, enable and equip your people, with connections into their news, applications, documents, tasks, projects and events.

Meeting the needs of ALL your users

When dealing with masses of content, how do we make user experiences targeted and valuable? After all, we both know that project documentation is useful and necessary. But as a marketer, do I really need to know the ins and outs of your current project to do my job today?
 
It’s probably not essential. If my feed is full of untargeted content that doesn’t make my life any easier, I will quickly lose interest in using the intranet. And of course, the same applies in reverse.
 
This is where choosing a product that can be personalised like SharePoint to build your intranet will be a decision that pays off. There are several ways we can create personalised experiences, and we would encourage you to, especially within larger organisations. Ensuring content that is relevant will mean that your users enjoy using their intranet, and will be advocates for it.

 

sharepoint consultant

Who owns content and can they keep it up to date?

 
Handing over publishing content to anyone in your organisation is enough to make grown professionals panic. Still, if content production is left to one person, or one team, you’ll never have enough. And additionally, you won’t have the right perspective. Imagine asking a HR person to write technical documentation. More than likely, it will be difficult (slow) and limited (unhelpful).
 
A style guide can go a long way to ensuring that content that is published is not only useful, but maintains company style and aligns with company goals. We highly recommend having each employee who contributes to content be across the style guide.
 
How many people you decide to allow publishing access to is up to you. We’ve seen open publishing models work well. But only when high visibility and accountability standards are maintained. Self moderation can be a powerful tool.

 

Search – it’s only as good as your content

Of course, search. If you’ve ever visited even a normal website without search you know it is a frustrating experience. The statistics vary depending on your source, but we know that approximately 30% of users head straight to the search bar. When they hit ANY website. The reality is we are so trained by the modern online experience that we expect search to just work. The difference with an intranet is that not finding what we need, when we need it impacts our productivity. And depending on the size of your organisation, there could be quite a lot of content to sift through.
 
Defining an effective search experience is essential. However, what many people overlook is the quality of their content. Because even a great search product can’t be relied on to provide highly targeted search results over plain text content. So appropriate tagging of content and a basic understanding of SEO is a must for all content producers. And where possible, use a search engine that is rich with helpful features that contextualise and personalise search results.

 

Read the room

The type of intranet you need depends largely on the type of company you are, and the personas you employ. This next bit is going to sound harsh, but in our experience it is true.

You don’t need an intranet to do all the things (while that would be nice). You need an intranet that will be used. One that will make employees working day simpler and more productive. For example, if you run a digital agency, your teams will likely be very interested in topical reading on industry leading projects and where your agency is keeping up. A social-heavy, participation focused intranet will go down well. On the other hand, if your company is R&D lead, easy to publish, edit, and find documentation will keep the researchers and developers well nourished and satisfied. So read the room. A SharePoint Online employee experience might be the solution to bridging the gap between the two.

  • Identify the employee and management pain points that an intranet could solve

  • Balance your objectives with actual potential engagement

  • Start small if you need to – ongoing development is better than launching unused features

Contact us if you need assistance in the intranet space. It’s what we do – we can help.