What would you say are the most important characteristics for a successful company? If the newspapers and relevant literature are to be believed, economies of scale, efficiency and productivity seem to be among the most desirable assets. In addition to that, as many executives and managers would be quick to testify, employees are what keeps it all together and makes it work. If this is nothing new to you, then consider this: What does your intranet look like? Is it quick to access, easy to navigate, up-to-date, informative and a joy to use? If you have answered one of these questions with ‘no’, then, I’m afraid, there is still much more you could be doing to improve your company’s productivity and efficiency.
What very few understand is that the intranet can play a critical support role in the life of every employee, and help companies to connect their most important assets. It can also provide a platform for companywide collaboration and exchanges of ideas and documents as well as quick access to vital information. However, many corporate platforms still struggle with hundreds of outdated pages, irrelevant information and malfunctioning tools. This not only makes the workforce’s life harder but can also negatively impact the bottom-line in terms of profitability. Why should your employees have to waste valuable time to search on the intranet, when, with just a few changes, information could be made readily available? After all, time is money…
Companies that want to give their internal portal a revamp should make sure that it cleverly connects information and team tools in an appealing way. Here are a seven tips to make your new intranet a success:
1. Usability is key
Firstly, and most importantly – usability is THE key requirement for your intranet. Today’s employees spend a considerable part of their workday looking for information. However, if they have to spend too long doing this, it can directly impact the company’s profits. In addition to that, as more and more teams work together virtually, the intranet must meet the rising demand for streamlined collaboration. Real-time collaboration improves team efficiency dramatically. In short, usability, speed, reliability and collaboration are the cornerstones of an efficient employee portal.
2. Overhaul your intranet on a regular basis
Intranets are there to improve communication across the organisation, providing your employees with a valuable source of information and collaboration. In particular, platforms that grew over time with little control or management, tend to get overcrowded with information quickly. It is essential to focus on providing a positive user experience, and it is therefore important to regularily audit its contents in terms of relevance and topicality and remove what’s no longer needed. An update in design and technology further ensures that your corporate intranet stays organised, manageable and provides employees with useful features, such as corporate social media tools.
3. Have gatekeepers
In order to control the amount and nature of content that is uploaded to the intranet and ensure relevance, companies should have ‘gatekeepers’ in place. Gatekeepers set the news agenda, decide what’s being published and monitor newsworthiness of content. In addition to that, they scan content for quality, motivate their colleagues to contribute and assure that intranet guidelines are being followed. That way, all organisational tasks are managed by one group which significantly reduces complexity and ensures adherence to standards.
4. Keep mobile in mind
It is worth remembering that more and more companies are using mobile. Not only is the number of mobile devices growing, so, too, is the number of employees who work remotely. It is therefore essential that the company remains active and up to date in this regard. Content has to be optimised for the specific device; ideally, without additional maintenance costs or editorial work.Your CMS should be able to distribute content automatically to all devices, no matter if you choose responsive design, a dedicated mobile channel or mobile apps. If it takes an hour for an employee to find important documents, then even the best tools are no good and the intranet loses the power of its potential.
5. An intranet is not
It’s important not to confuse an intranet with the internet, but to leverage synergies. While your website can contribute to the external perception of your business, the employee portal is an internal knowledge database and a “virtual colleague.” The intranet is directed at a far smaller audience – your employees. Whereas everyone can contribute to the internet whatever they want (and they do!), content on the intranet has to be monitored to ensure relevance and employees have to be encouraged to contribute. Having said that, to further minimise costs for creating, managing and maintaining web projects and content, it makes sense to use existing content from the corporate website for the intranet and join forces for content creation.
6. Align the layout with your corporate identity
The layout of your intranet should meet the specified corporate identity and design guidelines and increase satisfaction in portal use. If the intranet looks like it stepped out of the ’90s and if its users are unable to identify with their network, they will not accept it. For this reason, it is also not enough to just use the enterprise portal software. Portal software usually does not provide the best usability and only very limited flexibility for content management and customisation. Some solutions providers offer business applications and processes but do not take good user experience into consideration. Always keep in mind: If your website is a business card for your partners and clients, then your intranet is part of the corporate image you share with your employees.
In summary, in a modern business world where demands on employees and the density of information are increasing all the time, a well-oiled and well-used intranet is more important than ever. Even aspects such as employee loyalty and acquisition can be positively influenced with a well-designed employee portal. Intranets can play a critical role in the success of an organisation. Companies putting an emphasis on usability and manageablity of their main internal communications channel, will see an increase in efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, in profits.