Organizations are complex environments. While digital technology has changed the way we work and communicate, an effective staff Intranet should aim to simplify the complexity of work. If staff are expected to use the Intranet, it needs to be useful and solve work tasks quickly and efficiently. Identifying the real needs of staff can be a challenge, particularly in large organizations where teams can be separated across locations and time zones.
Staff Intranet’s that succeed are able to identify information and tools that are frequently used by staff. This goes beyond a simple web page dedicated to current policies and procedures, employee handbooks and branding style guides, etc. The Staff Intranet should aim to surface data from other key enterprise applications (ERP, BI, HR, CRM systems), support micro business applications (interactive staff directories, survey and feedback forms, job and project boards) and provide a powerful search (indexing and searching within documents, staff directories and discussion forums).
A staff Intranet should allow employees to build their personal profiles so they can be discovered by others. In a large organization, getting to know your colleagues especially when working from separate locations is paramount in building a successful project team. Profiles should enable staff to update their professional information, the projects they’ve worked on and their expertise and interests. Successful staff intranets should aim to put staff at the center of the Intranet experience. Key concepts to consider when planning an Intranet for staff should include the following.
While digital technology has changed the way we work and communicate, an effective staff Intranet should aim to simplify the complexity of work.
1. Clear and intuitive navigation
While the content sizing of an Intranet will grow over time, ensuring that an intuitive navigation is maintained will enable staff to locate the information they require. Keep naming conventions clear and simple. Avoid employing complex menu categorizations that will leave business users confused about how the Intranet is organized, and how they should be navigating to the information most relevant to their needs.
2. Pre-defined metadata
When staff are publishing content to the Intranet, ensure they can choose from pre-defined metadata instead of putting the burden on them to consider how their content should be categorized. This will also go along way to safeguarding a well structured Intranet over time. Providing staff with pick lists and dropdown menus of pre-defined metadata categories to choose from will ensure continuity of information across the Intranet.
3. Tools that reduce effort
Looking beyond standard Intranet content, providing staff with tools that close the gap on work effort will help to accelerate Intranet adoption. Typical tools include staff directory, skills and expertise database (find people based on their project experience), common task lists and a projects directory to name just a few.
4. Common business processes
Consider the paper driven processes in your business. The forms that need to be completed by hand, scanned and then emailed. The new supplier registration form. The new employee onboarding forms, and those internal planning forms. How high is your stack of paper after a month? Transform these paper-based processes into digital forms that enable you to search and report on these transactions from within the Intranet as well.
5. A search that works
Search is fundamental to ensuring staff can find what they need. Many staff Intranets offer poor search experiences, so ensuring staff can search within all content and data will drive trust and greater adoption of the Intranet.