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Is your intranet fit for purpose? Or is it a virtual cupboard of doom?

Is your intranet fit for purpose?

I bet you’ve got one, haven’t you? A cupboard of doom? Where things that don’t have a proper place to be go to die? Where things that need fixing (but you’ve got no Superglue) and letters you probably shouldn’t throw away (but can’t be bothered filing properly) cohabit uncomfortably. Or maybe you’re slightly more organised and restrained than me, and you only have a drawer of doom? If so, I bet there are a couple of worn elastic bands stuck to some old Blu-Tack in there.

Now, how’s your work intranet? No odd gloves, loose coins, or ancient receipts in there. But what about things without a proper place, things that need fixing, or things that should be properly filed or thrown away?

One of the first things that often comes out of the Comms Health Checks we’re asked to do for clients, is that people don’t get on with their intranet. Adjectives like ‘stale’, ‘disorganised’, ‘confusing’, and ‘mislabelled’ join phrases like “I can never find anything I need” and “I normally give up in the end and ask a colleague.”

So why is it that what should be a super-convenient, easy-to-navigate one-stop-shop repository is often hated, feared, or vilified by its target audience?

After all, in today’s world of blended and remote working practices, a reliable and convenient online library of knowledge, documents and resources is arguably more important than ever.

If you can honestly say that your intranet is up-to-date, easy to navigate, widely loved by your people, and devoid of expired documents and broken links, then you can stop reading now. Congratulations. I suggest a cuppa and a slice of cake to celebrate. For the rest of us, here is some quick Guru advice on how to improve yours.

1. Clarify owners and responsibilities.

All too often, we find that ownership of the intranet is “shared” (i.e., passed over) by multiple departments. IT will tell you that it’s HR’s job. HR will tell you it’s SLT’s or Comms’ job. Most people will blame IT. And so it goes on.

If it was IT’s job to set up in the first place, is it really fair to expect them to maintain documents, policies and resources? Are they your comms experts and owners of specific industry knowledge? Thought not.

We advise having dedicated owners (or teams of owners) for pages, sections, or zones of your intranet. Ideally, those owner teams will be made up of leaders, managers, senior admin’ folk, subject matter experts, and/or comms specialists. For example, it would make sense for HR to look after policy, recognition, and benefits pages, whilst product managers would oversee product and service info libraries etc.

Ensure regular content reviews are scheduled and carried out to ensure accuracy, relevancy, and timeliness. Remove outdated or redundant content and update existing materials. Encourage content owners and authors to review and update their sections periodically.

It may also be advisable to have a separate steering team, responsible for securing company buy-in, aligning owners with sections, and ensuring the whole thing is organised into a user-friendly and straightforward resource that’s accessible to all, regardless of location and shift pattern.

Make your intranet work for your people

2. Track the metrics.

Most modern systems will, relatively easily, allow you to track what is hot and what is not across your intranet. Not every page needs to attract visitor numbers that rival Alton Towers in August (or be as much fun); some will be rarely called upon but still vital on the occasions that they are. But this data may give you an idea of where content needs updating, making more engaging, or simply better signposted and easier to find.

Search data may also alert you to keenly sought content that doesn’t actually exist. In this case, assign it an owner and get it created! And then, when it's ready, shout about its launch via your comms channels.

3. Always have the end user in mind.

At the risk of stating the obvious, always have the experience of the user in mind, when planning content, writing and presenting it, organising and signposting it, and promoting it. You should certainly ask for feedback on your intranet and its content, whether as part of your regular staff surveys or through bespoke research, surveys or focus groups. There is no better way to know what your people want than to ask them. And yet we so rarely do!

4. Integrate it with your other platforms.

Integrate the intranet with all your internal communications efforts. Promote important announcements, news, and events on the intranet to ensure employees are informed and engaged. Link up all your collaboration tools and features, such as shared workspaces, calendars, social media platforms, or project management tools, to facilitate teamwork and collaboration and offer a joined-up and cohesive approach.

How to upgrade your intranet

The chances are you could sort your intranet out with a little cross-team collaboration, time and effort. Your people will absolutely love you for it, and your organisation will benefit.

And if you’re worried that your intranet is no longer fit for purpose and no amount of housekeeping or TLC is going to sort it out, give us a shout. Recommending options and advising on the new way forward is all part of our Health Check service. Just don’t ask us to sort out your cupboard of doom at the same time. We’ve got our own, thanks.


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