Within many businesses; both SME and large blue chip corporates, there’s an underused, underdeveloped and mismanaged intranet. The term ‘intranet’ has become a bit of a dirty word, synonymous low adoption and engagement rates, and therefore not fit for purpose, complete with a terrible user experience. But they can drive significant benefits to businesses when considered and delivered properly, pushing employee engagement and satisfaction, promoting a collaborative internal culture and driving efficiencies across the business.
At their core, intranets need to present data that is relevant, drive usability and improve collaboration across the organisation. Because of this, its vitally important to involve users from the start. Identify key stakeholders and users across the business that will interact with the intranet and involve them early on in the project – it’s something built to be used everyday. Users from across the business need to be confident that the end solution will work for them, and because every business has a bespoke set of requirements, ‘off the shelf’ solutions can’t provide the tailored solution the business needs.
Early involvement from users will lead to the identification of what does and doesn’t work, and as the solution starts to take shape, key user groups should be represented to create product evangelists for when it’s rolled out across the wider business. Have an holistic viewpoint and consider design from the offset. We expect to use beautifully designed and functional applications outside of the workplace, so that same experience should be applied to the intranet. Be realistic, don’t try to take the swiss army knife approach and try to develop a tool to be all things to all people, the intranet should be treated as a living entity which will grow and evolve over time.
Intranets fall on the scrap heap because they don’t adapt and change as the business does. Understand the limitations of the intranet, but have a process in place to regularly assess, amend and scale the intranet as the business scales will help to provide a future-proofed solution. Many intranets are developed with only a short-term focus on immediate ROI, without a consideration or commitment to producing a tool which can be used to provider longer-term benefits.
Getting it right can show significant business benefits. Cloud-based intranet systems are powerful internal communications tools, allowing access from any location across several devices outside of the looped network. And with enterprise now opening up to BYOD, web app intranets are gaining more traction and users, which leads to increased internal efficiencies, time saving and remote cross-team collaboration. Users are more empowered, with less pressure placed on internal teams, the right information can be accessed quickly and corporate culture can be promoted, to help create stronger brand internally.
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