A well designed and implemented intranet can be a powerful productivity tool for your company, making it easier for people to find the information they need to get their jobs done and to collaborate with others in the organization. Unfortunately, many corporate intranets end up being underutilized and stuffed to the point of being unusable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you already have a company intranet or are at the beginning stages of planning one, you can save a lot of time and pain by avoiding these three common intranet mistakes.
1. Over-emphasizing the Technology
Our IT Consulting team designs and implements SharePoint intranets for our clients. For many of our clients, reviewing pricing and features of intranet platforms is the first step of their project. Don’t make this mistake. The technology is the most straightforward part of the project. Getting your employees to use the intranet is the hard part that requires the most thought and planning. To solve the problem of user adoption, you have to think like a marketer and think of your employees as customers. Understand who will be using the intranet, what their “job to be done” is, their environment where they will be using the intranet, and how you will communicate and train them to make the most of the tool.
2. Assuming All Intranet Users are the Same
People interact with intranets in different ways. Some people are contributors, regularly posting in forums or threads, updating their profiles, and chatting about their work on projects. Others prefer just to consume; they like to read other people’s posts but won’t react or create a post. Then there is a group halfway in between those two groups which will react to the things other people post by liking or commenting, but they won’t create posts. There are some additional behavior patterns we see with people engaging on social platforms, but the central concept you need to understand is this: not all intranet users are the same. If you are building an intranet, you need a way for people with different behavior patterns to participate.
3. Taking Ownership of the Intranet
Traditionally, IT or HR takes ownership of the intranet. They prioritize the features and functionality that meet the needs of their role, forgetting their role has different requirements than that of a customer service agent or manufacturing technician. This results in an intranet that at best works for one group of people and, at worst, works for just one person. Planning the intranet should be a co-creative process that involves people from across the organization and at various levels of seniority. When you have a broader base of people involved in the planning of the project, you get a better product that more people use. People who participate in the project also tend to become advocates that promote the tools and drive others to use it.
Your intranet can be a tool that supports collaboration across the company and helps employees be more productive. But you can’t count on people using it just because you build it. If you understand your users and involve them in the planning from the beginning, you will build an intranet that actually works for the people who use it.