Webinar: The IT Professionals Guide to a Robust, Secure, and Customized Intranet

Remember that time you were tasked with finding a new intranet? When your communication colleagues talked about engagement, your HR team discussed needing centralized forms and information, and your executive team was focused on ROI?

Ahem. What about the stuff that really matters? Like the security, hosting, and integrations? After all, an intranet is a piece of technology that impacts your entire organization!

Don’t worry, we get it. And that’s why we are devoting an entire webinar to the needs of IT professionals.


This 30-minute webinar will take place on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, at 8:30 AM PST (11:30 AM EST / 16:30 UK). There will be a 15 minute Q&A period after the presentation, so have your questions ready to ask our experts.

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14 Questions to Ask in a Corporate Culture Audit

Culture plays an enormous role in the health of an organization, but it can feel invisible to those immersed in it. And because many of us don’t see it, we have difficulty understanding what our culture is, and more importantly, what areas require improvement.

Whether your corporate culture is in need of a minor tweaking or, a major overhaul, it’s never too late to begin the journey of improving your culture.

What Is Culture?

Organizational culture is a broad term that encompasses all aspects of an organization’s environment. It is much more than providing free snacks and a foosball table. Your organization’s culture is an amalgamation of employee life experiences, combined with the impact of executive influence. Other factors include:

  • Employee personal values
  • Workplace procedures, behaviors, policies, relationships, and employee expectations
  • Company stories and interactions
  • Employee recognition programs  

Why Does it Matter?

While it can be tempting to dismiss the significance of a strong corporate culture, it has the potential to make or break your organization.  

While the benefits of a positive workplace culture run aplenty, the costs of a negative culture run as deep. Poor workplace cultures are generally characterized by employee negativity, complaining, underachievement, low levels of trust, and high turnover, and according to Dying for a Paycheck author Jeffrey Pfeffer, toxic workplaces and job stress cost US employers more than $300 billion every year in the United States.

Why Conduct a Culture Audit?

Even if you think your company has a strong corporate culture, there are a few reasons to assess it.

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How-to guide for intranet task testing

Task testing is a popular tool for building an intuitive intranet information architecture (IA). It’s a quick process that typically follows card sorting in the series of steps for designing a user-centered intranet navigation.

Task testing fills a critical role that card sorting doesn’t: it evaluates the findability of content. If you are committed to building a user-friendly navigation for your employees, you need task testing.

Like intranet card sorting, task testing doubles as a user engagement opportunity and can help build a foundation for sustained intranet adoption.

What is task testing?

Task testing assesses how well a site navigation matches users’ perspectives. It answers the question, “Can users navigate the new sitemap to easily find the information they need?” Intranet teams typically use task testing after creating a proposed sitemap, which is based on completing a content audit and card sorting.

Task testing is implemented using a simplified mockup of a site’s draft navigation. An intranet team comes up with specific tasks related to information on the intranet and participants identify where they would expect to find the information.

For example,  you just returned from a business trip and you need to document your expenses and submit them for reimbursement. Where would you expect to find the necessary information?

A participant would then click through the navigation mockup looking for the correct content to complete that task. The point is to gauge how well the navigation labelling and organization helps participants complete tasks.

It’s important to note that the participant is never wrong, and low success rates in testing convey weaknesses in the navigation’s design.

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Webinar: ThoughtFarmer’s Best Intranet Awards

It’s time to crown the champions for the most innovative, collaborative, and impactful ThoughtFarmer intranets!

Want to find out if your intranet won an award? Want to draw inspiration from other amazing intranets?

In this 30-minute webinar, our awesome Director of Customer Success, Carolien Dekeersmaeker, will present our annual Best Intranet Awards recipients, and show you some of the amazing submissions we received. This year our clients entered their intranets into three categories:

  • Innovation: This category recognizes extraordinary intranets that push the boundaries. This could be a unique integration, using a feature in an interesting way, or doing something outside the intranet box.
  • Design: This award is all about the visual design of your intranet. Decided by our Creative Director, winners in this category excel at providing an intranet that is visually appealing, and intuitive in design.
  • Impact: The impact category applauds intranets that have achieved quantifiable business outcomes. This could include an increase in productivity, a reduction in email use, or a tangible improvement in employee engagement.

We also introduced a fourth category, which gave our ThoughtFarmer community a chance to choose their favorite:

  • People’s Choice: The ThoughtFarmer community is filled with intranet experts. Top entrants of each category will be selected to be voted on by you! People’s Choice voting will kick-off a few weeks before the winners are crowned at the Best Intranet Awards webinar.

Join us on July 18th to celebrate the victors and get inspired to create your own award-winning intranet.

Watch the recording

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What makes good collaboration? 10 real-world tips

Intranets can improve collaboration, but we often lose sight of the fact that good collaboration ultimately depends on people, not technology.

Here are ten real-world tips that will help you improve collaboration at your work.

  1. Constantly clarify roles, especially in meetings: “Who’s facilitating the meeting? Who’s noting next steps?” Overlapping or unclear roles lead to confusion, duplicate efforts, and oversights in follow-up.
  2. Explicitly state responsibilities: Never say “we’ll do X” because then it’ll never happen. Whenever there is a follow up item, state the single person responsible as well as the due date.
  3. Be honest about mistakes: A manager sets the tone for their team. If they admit mistakes and expect team members to call them out when they violate team norms, then they will set a powerful example for accountability.
  4. Go into the conflict zone, respectfully: In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni lists “fear of conflict” as dysfunction #2, and offers tips on how teams can deal with conflict effectively. Conflict is important — deftly handling it can expose important problems, help team members improve their performance, and bring people closer together.
  5. Explicitly identify who’s responsible for each decision & how it will be made: Is this agenda item a group decision, or is the manager trying to gather input for their decision? Does everyone need to agree or will 3-out-of-5 be enough to decide? Lack of clarity here leads to false assumptions, wandering discussions and confusion.
  6. Create an online workspace, together: Don’t make your online workspace the administrative assistant’s responsibility alone.
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Three Types of Collaboration in Your Digital Workplace

As online collaboration tools continue to permeate the enterprise, intranet managers need to make their intranet the hub of internal collaboration or risk irrelevancy.

Collaboration means working together to get something done. At a minimum, your intranet should facilitate the following three types of collaboration within your digital workplace:

Instant Collaboration

Goal: Share ideas and get immediate feedback
Offline equivalent: Face-to-face meetings & phone calls
Online solutions: Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, & join.me

Instant collaboration tools include instant messaging and desktop screen-sharing. Your intranet should provide links or downloads for these tools and instructions on how to use them. Advanced integration could include an indicator beside names in the employee directory to show who’s online.

Project Collaboration

Goal: Plan and execute a project
Offline equivalent: Status meetings & war boards
Online solutions: BaseCamp, Central Desktop, eProject, etc.

Project collaboration tools usually include a shared calendar, to-do lists, message boards and a file repository. Your intranet should link to your project collaboration tool and include suggestions on how to use it effectively. Advanced integration could include a personalized to-do list on the intranet home page.

Mass Collaboration

Goal: Ongoing sharing, learning and connecting with teammates
Offline equivalent: Team off-sites, workshops, conferences
Online solutions: Confluence, SocialText, ThoughtFarmer, etc

Mass collaboration solutions make it easy to create, share, and find content. They include wikis, blogs, and social bookmarking. The best ones leverage the network effect to aggregate individual contributions in ways that create value for the entire organization. Your intranet shouldn’t be integrated with a mass collaboration solution.

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The Best Intranet Metrics Measure Business Outcomes

How do you measure collaboration, employee engagement, and improved communication in hard numbers? In other words, how will you know if your intranet is successful?

Creating intranet metrics can be challenging. Since intranets affect many areas of the business and are used for different purposes within an organization, figuring out how to measure success can feel like trying to nail jello to the wall.

The good news is that it’s actually not that hard, as long as you start with your intranet strategy and objectives. Your intranet strategy should be aligned with company goals, and it should be designed to drive business outcomes.

Once you have defined your business outcomes, creating and implementing KPIs are pretty straightforward. From there, you can identify problems, celebrate success, and create an ongoing improvement plan.

The Measurement Process

Step 1. Create a Strategy

If you don’t have an intranet strategy, don’t worry. Many people have a general idea of what they want an intranet to accomplish but haven’t laid it out on paper.  Go back and create one now.

Step 2. Define KPIs

Discuss what success looks like with your intranet stakeholders, and define some key performance indicators (or KPIs). Going through that journey together keeps all relevant stakeholders on the same page. This ensures discussion surrounding a metric focuses on how to improve it, rather than debating if it’s the right metric or not.

It’s helpful to think about the kinds of evidence you will see when you’ve accomplished your goals.

There are five types of success evidence:

Success Evidence Type      Success Evidence Examples
  • Reduced travel expenses for internal meetings.
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How to Create an Intranet Evaluation Survey

You see the potential of an intranet to ignite employee engagement and streamline collaboration, but your executive keeps asking “What’s the ROI (return on investment) for this?”

Analytics to show usage are typically where people start. Analytics provide unbiased observations of how employees are actually using your intranet. However, they do not give you an understanding of why they return, which areas of the intranet are useful, and where your employees are getting frustrated.

To achieve this you’ll need to hear directly from your employees, and the best way to do this is via a survey. An intranet evaluation survey aims to gauge how employees feel about the intranet. In addition to documenting improvements, running a survey periodically can show the strengths and weaknesses of your intranet over time. It can also show trends in how it is being used, and can provide guidance on how your intranet team can focus their efforts.

So while, a dollar value ROI for your intranet may be challenging to prove, it isn’t the only thing worth measuring. It’s equally, if not more important, to measure the actual impact of your intranet.

Getting Started on an Intranet Evaluation Survey

When creating an intranet evaluation survey it’s important to be clear on the survey’s purpose. Use questions that link to the intranet’s value proposition while keeping the survey short. You don’t need to gather feedback on every feature of the intranet, but rather on the impact it is having on employees’ work.

The purpose and goals of most intranets is to:

  • improve communication
  • improve access to information
  • improve collaboration
  • increase connections and knowledge sharing
  • streamline specific processes
  • improve the sense of company community.
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Opening up Silos with Communities

Silos—whether across business units, functions, projects, or geographies—are a top source of frustration for most organizations. If not effectively managed, silos can slow operational efficiency, reduce morale,  and contribute to the demise of a healthy corporate culture.

Workplace silos are often formed by organizational decisions to group certain employees in a specific way. While the intent is to hopefully support key business goals, such groupings may inhibit employees from knowledge sharing and other healthy and beneficial interactions with other members of the organizations.

In an effort to reduce and manage the impact of silos, the best organizations benefit from cross-silo communities of practice and of interest.

Communities of Practice

Communities of practice (CoP) are defined as groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. They operate as learning or action systems where members connect to share ideas, solve problems, set standards, build tools, and develop relevant relationships.

While the term may be new, the concept definitely isn’t. Humans have long formed communities and groups that sought to share and receive information to better themselves. CoP expert, Etienne Wenger put it best, “Knowledge of an organization lives in a constellation of communities of practice, each taking care of a specific aspect of the competence that the organization needs.”

Without the ability to effectively identify communities of practice, we limit ourselves in what we can achieve and learn as an organization, and we inadvertently contribute to the silo mentality.

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38 Creative Intranet Launch Ideas

A new intranet can significantly improve your workplace; but that success isn’t going to happen on its own. To ensure the success of your intranet you need a focused, dedicated, and creative intranet launch strategy.

Here are 38 real-world intranet launch ideas you can use to propel your intranet. We’ve grouped launch ideas to correspond with your intranet launch timeline and stages.

Phase one: Pre-Launch

Involved employees feel more ownership in the intranet process, which is why this is a vital part of an intranet launch. Spark excitement and relieve concerns by offering employees a sneak peek into their new intranet.

Idea #1: Involve key employees in product evaluation

Include employees in early intranet discussions and learn how your new intranet solution can help them. Our article on 15 ways to engage users in launching a social intranet offers tips on including employees in product evaluation.

Idea #2: Encourage employees to participate in intranet research

Employee feedback is essential to designing a useful, usable intranet. Get employees to participate in card sorting and task testing activities for your new intranet. Not only will you end up with a stronger navigation, but you’ll also show employees that you value their input.

Idea #3: Give employees a say in your intranet name

What’s in an intranet name? Well, if one person determines the name, not so much. But, if you run an exercise that allows all employees to suggest and vote on names for the intranet, then the name will be exciting and engaging.

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