Intranet Tip: Give Your Suppliers Access to the Intranet

In brief: Green Hippo made their supply chain more efficient by granting intranet access to their key supplier.

Green Hippo makes specialized, high-end servers that stream HD video for live events like the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. To improve coordination with their key supplier, Green Hippo granted them access to a section on their intranet.

This intranet section shows the status of all current orders and returns, with links to photos and other details. Both employees and vendors can view, update, and collaborate on the manufacturing process from start to finish.

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How to Plan for Continuous Improvement on your Intranet

Great intranets continually improve and evolve. To effectively manage that change, you need a system.

Step 1: Start with intranet purpose

Purpose provides direction. It offers basic criteria by which all major decisions can be judged.

Our client Assiniboine Credit Union started with this purpose:

Increase personal and departmental efficiencies and provide increased member service.

You can understand why such an agreed-upon purpose helps with decisions. A forum to solicit ideas on how to increase client service aligns with this purpose. A photo album of funny cat pictures does not. (However, everyone loves a funny cat picture, so you may need to modify your purpose.)

To craft your intranet purpose:

  • Involve all stakeholders
  • Consider using a group brainstorming and decision-making technique, such as the K-J Method (more on that below)
  • Tie it to the organization’s goals and strategy
  • Make it easy to understand
  • Make it specific, or find specific areas of focus that illustrate it
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An intranet section for Funny Cat Pictures should only be considered if it aligns with your stated intranet purpose

Step 2: Focus on delivering value to the business

Once you have in place the guiding light of intranet purpose, your next challenge is to think in terms of specific business value. We offer suggestions on determining business objectives in Step 1 of our Intranet Buyers Workbook.

Business-driven development contrasts sharply with feature-driven development. As an example, I recently spoke with an intranet manager who was trying to wrap her head around tagging. Should they create a complete tagging structure for all the content on their new intranet?

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What is Intranet Governance Really?

Intranet governance is one of those big, vague, scary words that people toss around a lot. What does it really mean? What does it look like in real life? Where do you start with it? Tony Byrne, CEO of the Real Story Group, said that intranet “governance is like sex: people tend to talk about it more than they do it.” This article breaks down intranet governance into concrete, relatable terms and focuses on what it means to “do” intranet governance.

A simple definition

In its most straight-forward meaning, governance is decision-making.

Whenever you have more than one person involved in making a decision you need governance in place to facilitate the decision-making process.

A congress or parliament is the primary national-level decision-making body of a country. The president, executive branch and administration implement the decisions made by congress/parliament.

Similarly, in intranet governance the two main parts are 1) making the decisions and 2) implementing them. The governance problems many intranet teams face start at the very foundation, with unclear decision-making roles and processes.

Intranet governance starts with four basic questions:

  1. What are the decisions to be made? (scope)
  2. Who should be involved in those decisions and what are the roles? (responsibilities)
  3. How should the decisions be made? (processes)
  4. How should the decisions be implemented? (implementation)

You can provide tremendous clarity around every part of your intranet project by consistently returning to these four simple questions.

The 7 big decisions of intranet governance

In the realm of intranets there are many large and small decisions that need to be made.

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Intranet Tip: Showcase Usage Tips on your Intranet Home Page

In brief: Share intranet usage tips on your home page to encourage ongoing learning and continuous improvement.

From learning how to search more efficiently to discovering how features can solve specific problems, users’ knowledge of the intranet is always evolving. To capture and share this knowledge, Assiniboine Credit Union shares intranet usage tips on their home page.

Employees see a different tip each time they visit. They can explore the tip repository to see the full list and add their own tips. It’s a fun, simple, collaborative way to help employees become intranet super users.

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Lightning Fast Employee Contact Lists

There are many occasions you might need a list of employee contact information — creating an attendance list, printing name tags, making a hard-copy phone list, or sending a direct mail campaign. Our new employee directory feature, Export to Excel, allows employees to create an employee list in seconds. It’s a simple feature, but a useful one.

To export a list of all employees, simply go to the employee directory, use the export button, and click “Export to Excel”. Done.

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Your contact list is exported into an excel table. From there, you can use it however you like. Import it into another database, format it for printing, use it for a mail-merge, or simply print as is.

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How to Deliver Effective Training for Social Intranets

fly-birdies-fly-550Last week we discussed 7 Tips for Designing Your Intranet Training Program. Today we move into the classroom: tips for actually delivering the training.

1. Create a comfortable learning environment

A new social intranet requires employees to use new technology and change the way they work. Whether they admit it or not, many employees find change and technology scary. So one of the main goals of social intranet training is to remove fear and uncertainty, helping users to be comfortable with the new intranet. This requires a positive, comfortable training atmosphere:

  • Make a warm, inviting introduction
  • Leave time for slower users to keep up
  • Frame people’s mis-steps positively so they don’t feel embarrassed
  • Create a flexible agenda

2. Ensure each participant has a computer

People learn best by doing. They won’t remember how to do specific tasks just from watching someone else do them on a big screen. People have to see and then do.

Ideally, every trainee has their own laptop and brings it to training. If that’s not possible, ensure each trainee has a computer to use and is logged in as themselves.

3. Train in teams

Social intranets provide tools for team collaboration, so your training should reflect that. Try organizing training classes by team. While you’re working through practical training scenarios, teams can start connecting and coming up with ways they can use the intranet together.

4. Practice logging in

The most important task a user absolutely must be able to complete is to log in. If users don’t know how to access your intranet, you have no hope of succeeding.

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Intranet Tip: Team up with HR on Processes for Joiners, Movers, and Leavers

In brief: Make your intranet the ultimate source for employee information by teaming up with HR on processes.

Before launching their new social intranet, the ACCA intranet team worked with the HR Department to create processes around when employees join the company, change jobs, and move on to other pastures. They use ThoughtFarmer as their source of truth for employee information. As part of the workflow, HR notifies the intranet admin team to update employee profiles, keeping the employee directory up-to-date. The resulting reliability of contact and team data is a big win for intranet users.

See how the intranet can help HR

This tip is courtesy of Sarah Moffatt at ACCA — thanks for sharing Sarah!

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7 Tips for Designing your Intranet Training Program

Launching a new intranet is more than just giving employees a new software tool — intranets enable organizations to change the way they work together. While ThoughtFarmer is very user-friendly and intuitive, employees need training on new processes and best practices specific to your company’s intranet. Plus, for your less tech-savvy employees, training gives them a boost of confidence to get started with the intranet.

Here are some tips to help you design your intranet training.

1. Offer one-on-one training for executives

Executive intranet adoption is important. They hold the keys to budgets, strategic direction, governance, and more. Plus, they are key ambassadors that other employees will follow.  So plan to give them one-on-one training when and how they want it. You could even set up a “reverse mentoring program,” in which younger, tech savvy employees help executives get comfortable with the new intranet.

Engage executives early. Once employees see them starting to use the intranet as a tool, employees will want to use it too.

2. Plan different training tracks for different user groups

Design training sessions for different types of users, so you can emphasize the most important intranet features for them. We often divide training based on how the user will use the intranet, but you may also choose to divide it further to the role or department level. Common user groups include:

  • End Users
  • Content Owners
  • Community / Group Page Managers
  • Intranet Administrators

This approach gives you the flexibility to include both technical training and best practices (e.g. a “writing for the web/intranets” portion of your “News publishers” training).

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Intranet Tip: Use Email Newsletters to Drive Intranet Usage

In brief: Send email newsletters of intranet headlines to capture employees’ attention.

The intranet team at Pictime, a France-based software company, knows that employees “live” in email. So they send weekly, auto-generated email newsletters containing all their intranet news. By bringing intranet news to where employees were comfortable, they spurred on usage of the intranet. (And they inspired us to add email newsletters as a feature in ThoughtFarmer 7.0.)

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ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards 2014: Winners in the Best Intranet Collaboration

Over the past two weeks we profiled the winners in the Best Looking and Most Innovative category of our annual ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet competition. This week, we’ll share with you the winners in the final category: Best Intranet Collaboration.

Winner, Best Collaboration IntranetWINNER, Best Intranet Collaboration: Assiniboine Credit Union

  • Industry: Finance
  • Region: Manitoba, Canada
  • Employees: 520
  • Intranet Name: Mosaic

Every year Assiniboine Credit Union buys an entire evening of outdoor theatre at Winnipeg’s historic Rainbow Stage. They make these tickets available to members and community groups but have historically had a difficult time tracking sales and getting the tickets to the members and groups that wanted them.

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ACU used ThoughtFarmer to manage their ticket sales for an annual member event.

This year they used ThoughtFarmer to coordinate ticket sales. All 23 branches have a page for tracking sales so they have a running tally of how many tickets are still available and where. If a branch runs out of tickets, they can contact another branch for a transfer. Like everything on Mosaic, the transactions are transparent and everyone knows who to call.

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