Whether you launched your revamped intranet six or eighteen months ago, you’ll want to manage its continuous development so that it meets explicit and evolving business needs. Otherwise, the intranet will become stale and less relevant, within whatever digital workplace you have. If needs aren’t met, people will have to rely on inefficient work-arounds.
Matching your intranet to your organisation’s objectives is the only way for it to stay relevant; meeting the needs of your colleagues is the only way for it to be useful and used.
Over three articles, I tackle four streams of activity:
Feedback and improvements
It is likely that new functionality will be needed over time. First, as with your initial designs for the intranet, confirm your key performance indicators with direct stakeholders. Make sure you actually can measure what’s important. It’s about aligning your intranet with business needs, not merely showing that ‘X number of people have read’ something.
Second, put in place mechanisms for gathering, responding to, and acting on feedback.
Third, have your ‘improvements list’ close to hand every single day. You must have priority improvements to make every quarter so that you can roll-out new features or changes, demonstrating the intranet is dedicated to supporting people.
Your metrics, your stakeholders, intranet champions, and intranet users will give you feedback, ideas, and direction as to how to priorities your improvements list.
Discover whether the processes / workflows that you designed with business partners before launch are actually being used. Are they neglected owing to a lack of awareness, or because they don’t meet the real-life need? The business value of appropriate workflows cannot be overstated; get them right, and guide / train the right people in their use.
Fourth, plan and execute your on-going comms relentlessly. You may have explained ‘how to subscribe to news categories’ at launch, but that’s no reason to believe everyone saw your piece or took action. Performance indicators will also show if initial take-up is dwindling and needs reinforcement.
New ways of using the intranet
Beyond your original plans and beyond launch, people will find new ways to use the intranet in line with their needs. A collaborative intranet platform enables people to create processes that fit their project and department needs. You might be surprised at the uses people find for the intranet; in fact, when you ask for intranet requirements you often get very little feedback, but once people explore the possibilities for themselves, hands-on, more and more requirements come to light.
To handle the on-going suggestions and requests for help you need to offer a kind of internal consultancy. Some companies call them ‘centres of excellence’. Such a centre focuses on business problems and helps people configure their parts of the intranet to their needs. This is less about IT development and more about site and module configuration and set-ups for particular scenarios.
Some common examples are:
- Adding approval workflows to documents
- Using social tools to create virtual events
- Replacing paper forms and spreadsheets with online versions
- Showing management teams how to move from email and attachment-heavy processes to shared documentation for their regular meetings.
The ‘centre of excellence’ goes beyond training to directly help people and teams make best use of the intranet.
Comms, comms, and comms
Let people know about new features, even if you think they’re obvious. Some features can be rolled-out out weeks or months after launch (especially if you’re continuously improving your intranet) so be sure to communicate the changes (in advance if big). Show people that the intranet is a dynamic environment. Not every feature will deserve its own article, so consider explaining features together in a group. You could even experiment with listicles – such as ‘Six ways to save time’ or ‘Three must-use buttons to share documents quicker’ and the very necessary ‘Four places to save your documents’.
Not every challenge can be covered in your videos, training, or comms. Your intranet champions, site owners, and power-users should have their own online ‘community of practice’ so they can help each other. The intranet should be a place for people, not just content.