What qualities do the best Intranet have? I ask that question a lot. After a bit of brainstorming, the answers I get usually include:
* Publishes fresh and timely content
* Has strong search capability to easily find information
* Is accessible on many devices, mobile to desktop
* Displays timely images of employees and events
* Is visually appealing and user friendly
* Is organized in a well thought out and logical manner
* Includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on corporate as well as departmental levels
* Provides a location for teams to share documents
* Includes forms and workflows
* Has content filtered based on individual’s role
While I agree with each and every one of those answers, and I could easily spend a paragraph or two outlining the virtues of each of those qualities, I would still have to say my answer is not on that list. All of those things are important, and failure to have most if not all would dramatically reduce the impact and usability of an Intranet. I fear you could have an Intranet that possessed all of those qualities that would still have little value. So, what then would be my answer? What quality do I think makes for the best Intranet?
In my opinion, the best Intranets help people get their jobs done. They make their employees more efficient. If they do that, you do not have to worry about driving traffic to your Intranet, people will go there to get their work done. If you are having contests and giving away prizes to employees for accessing your Intranet, your Intranet is either brand new and you are advertising the value or, I fear your Intranet is failing. When deciding what should be included on your intranet, I have two simple tests. The first test is will it help the employees get their jobs done. If the answer is yes, it should be part of the Intranet. The second test is does it make employees feel like part of the community. This is important too. Everything on the Intranet should accomplish one or the other. If not, I cannot think of a reason to include it.
What helps people get their jobs done? Things that directly impact my job role such as a salesperson having access to key data. Sales this month vs. last month, this year to date vs. last year to the same date. Revenue by client, product mix by client, revenue remaining, etc. If I am in the legal department, access to contracts, boilerplates, dates of expiring contracts and other legal documents. I think you get the idea. The other way to help me get my job done is helping to get indirect things done more efficiently. Things like booking air, hotel, and rental car, doing my 401k, performance appraisals, ordering things like business cards, and office supplies, accessing training and other websites.
What makes people feel more a part of the community? This would be things like pictures of employees at events, Progress towards shared goals like KPIs, Charitable Participation, Letter from the President, or department head, Birthday calendar, announcements of promotions and anniversaries, employee spotlights, employee polls, employee wikis and discussions, even cafeteria menus.
The best Intranets focus on helping people get their jobs done and making employees feel like part of a team. They provide employees with access to important information and let them act upon that information efficiently and effectively. They need other things as well, such as good organization, search, and have fresh content, but if they do not do the first two, why bother? Focus on empowering employees and making them feel part of the team and your Intranet will be a success.
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