The most successful intranets don't just look good, they are primarily focused on helping people get work done and often on promoting engagement. The look book can help inspire you to think about how your content might appear, but your business outcome goals are important to understand what content and functionality are most important for your users and your organization.
Whether you're going to create an intranet for your company or simply want to improve the one you already have, here are some intranet examples and building and updating suggestions from others who have gone before you.
The concept is admirable: One common home page that provides a bird's eye view of the company to everyone. However, in practice, it simply does not work. In the end, some content will be relevant to the majority of users, but not all. And each department will be in conflict with one another, contending for limited space on the main page to present department-specific information.
Users should not be forced to cognitively filter content on the corporate welcome page. A platform that allows them to generate tailored pages—complete with optional, extraneous stuff already removed—keeps everyone focused on what's new for me, rather than what's new for everyone.
It doesn't make sense intuitively. Tight restrictions on who can publish, as well as stringent policies and lengthy approval processes, only serve to halt progress. People will draw towards the intranet rather than away if you make it easy for them to contribute and publish information.
While you're doing it, make sure to solicit comments from others. Use quizzes and polls to get feedback on how to improve the intranet or new ways to use its capabilities. When you inquire, you are implying that the intranet project is ongoing and that the firm is committed to continuous improvement.
Finally, it's a new technique to keep users interested. Active, engaged users will encourage continual enhancements and ensure the intranet's long-term success.
A staged approach, starting small and gradually extending the user base, will ensure that your intranet community grows rather than shrinks.
However, start small does not mean a small number of users. Your first phase should be straightforward and demonstrate the tool's capabilities, but it should also have a significant impact on a huge user base.
Because both groups have a need to exchange information with a big community, choose an HR or corporate communications activity for your first phase. Alternatively, consider hiring remote labor as your first move, as business procedures in this group can be dramatically improved. Whatever option you choose, build on your results by adding more high-impact, high-usage groups. Later project phases should focus on departments with highly particular, regional demands.
Users are already used to keeping care of their own personal login credentials, such as usernames and passwords that provide them access to the company's CRM, ticketing, ERP, and other systems. So what's one more login/password combination to gain access to the company intranet?
It's an unnecessary barrier to entry that could lead users to believe the intranet is separate from the rest of the company's infrastructure. Consider each login as a possible point of abandonment, which is the last thing you want. By removing the need for your users to know tedious information like pathnames and login credentials, you may make their lives easier and allow them to focus on the task at hand.
Create a business intranet that acts as a sort of bridge between users in each audience and the many tools and systems they use on a regular basis. Their credentials instantly unlock the door to other resources they need to complete their job after they cross the bridge. There are no additional passwords needed.
Users will come to the intranet each moment they need a tool once they learn they can throw their secret list of login credentials and erase all memory of directory paths.
Data integration, according to many experts, severely slows down efforts to improve business processes. Yet, when it comes to purchasing an intranet solution, simplicity of connection is sometimes overlooked, with the misguided notion that web services, SOA, or regularly scheduled data refresh can rapidly cover the gaps.
For today's business strategists, tight connectivity with these systems is essential. Supply chain professionals who must respond to inventory fluctuations and marketing teams tasked with growing revenue and uncovering new cross-sell and up-sell opportunities both require real-time, on-demand information. Accepting anything less would provide you little more than a stylish Web interface since the primary value of an intranet is its ability to combine data from a number of applications for simpler management.
Ascertain that your new intranet will interface seamlessly with the company's essential systems. Also, make plans to create a unified, well-integrated platform that will automatically update company dashboards if the underlying data changes.
Also, make sure that the intranet is linked to external resources.
Companies all around the world are keen to transform time-consuming, paper-push procedures into simplified, online processes that eliminate paper forms, file folders, manual forwarding, and the inefficiencies that come with them.
Choose an Intranet solution that supports workflows, and plan to begin with a few optimized workflows. Automating typical operations such as vacation requests, expense report reimbursements, and purchase approvals will pique users' interest and encourage them to use the intranet.
Corporations are unsure how social networking may benefit their firm, and they are concerned about lost productivity. However, after understanding the importance of social media sites like LinkedIn, an increasing number of businesses have rushed in with great hopes.
It's critical to acknowledge that business is fundamentally social. Employees that feel more linked to their coworkers feel more connected to the firm as well, which is beneficial to business. Employees can use a social network to find individuals, workgroup connections, trends, and resources that can help them be more effective in their jobs.
In an ideal world, your intranet will grow into a gigantic collaborative platform that is virtually entirely driven by the community. Users will flock to the intranet to get a large volume of high-quality material, and they will appreciate how easy it is to use.
Furthermore, an intranet that allows cross-enterprise cooperation can boost productivity right away. Workgroups provide an online workspace for employees, business partners, suppliers, and customers to collaborate. People may easily connect to exchange ideas, save project-specific knowledge, define procedures, review and discuss papers and deliverables, handle issues, make decisions, and get work done using central online meeting spaces.
Allow them to meet on the intranet, and you'll avoid the ghost town mentality.
It's been said before, but it bears repeating: include and engage your users throughout the entire project.
You won't be able to begin to comprehend the practical difficulties of everyday life for each and every department in the organization, and you won't be expected to. Because the intranet should serve the entire community, they should be involved from the start.
An intranet team made up of power users from every department will provide a reliable system that serves all departments, not just a few.
To put it another way, if the HR department developed the intranet for the entire company, would it be compatible with how IT works and thinks?
How many times have you been unable to locate an important document that you were confident you had saved in a file server folder? How will people locate files on the business intranet if you can't find stuff that you personally filed?
Choose a product that gives customers a variety of search alternatives, such as classic search via an online catalog structured by company-defined categories, or filtering through content they've individually labeled or given unique labels to.
You may draw together all content and individuals connected to one another in some way by requiring a product with the multi-faceted search: keywords, tags, categories, author, department, and much more, to make your intranet much more beneficial.