Better Together: 6 Steps to a New Credit Union Intranet

Credit union intranet

In A Nutshell

Credit unions and intranets have more in common than you’d think. At least that’s according to Ilana Friesen, former internal communication specialist for one of Canada’s largest credit unions. Among her many credit union related projects, Ilana successfully researched and implemented a company-wide intranet, so she is something of an authority on the topic. In this piece Ilana explains why the two have so much in common, how that affects you, and what you can do to choose an intranet solution that’s right for you.


Consider this: credit unions and intranets have a lot in common. Like, a lot. “Okay” you may be thinking, “but a lot seems like a bit of a stretch”. Well, having spent time on both sides of the fence I’ve come to appreciate just how symbiotic the relationship between the two can be. Allow me to explain…

A key tenet of any credit union, and something that differentiates them from other financial institutions, is that members, as owners, can directly influence how credit unions operate. This means that credit unions must operate in a more collaborative fashion, and with more transparency than other types of financial institution. Coincidentally, these same requirements were among those that lead to the invention of the intranet: the need for a space where stakeholders could come to communicate, collaborate, and create.

Getting Granular

So while there’s little doubt that credit unions can benefit from an intranet, picking an actual provider is far from easy. Believe me, I’ve got the scars to prove it: I was an internal comms specialist for one of Canada’s largest credit unions at a time when the company was pursuing a more transparent, collaborative culture.

Continue reading...

Worth The Wait: Why Credit Unions and Intranets Work So Well Together

In A Nutshell

Credit unions and intranets used to have somewhat of a tumultuous relationship; on paper they worked great together but in practice, well, not so much. Today, that scenario has reversed and a modern day credit union operating without a modern day intranet is committing a modern day communications crime: failing to fully engage a keen and committed workforce. This piece looks at the key benefits a credit union can expect to glean from a (preferably social) intranet.

Back Then…

Intranets used to suck. Like, really suck. They were content-heavy, cumbersome, and counterintuitive. They had a top-down, centralized structure that made everyone feel like they were being talked at rather than with. The intranet held the megaphone, turned up to 11, while everyone else had to just watch and listen.

In many ways then, intranets seemed to stand against the very thing credit unions stood for: transparency, openness, and a sense community. This, ironically, was in spite of the fact that credit unions were the exact type of organization that intranets were originally designed for.

I experienced this real-life contradiction first hand. I used to work on the communications team of a (really large) credit union at a time when we were having difficulty engaging employees. We were experiencing typical growing pains: Internal communication had become a one-way street. Collaboration could only happen in-person. Culture lived in a mission statement that hung on a wall somewhere.

Righting Wrongs

So, we set out on a mission to right those wrongs.

Continue reading...

Recorded Webinar: In Search of Search

Have you ever really thought about the importance of search? Ephraim Freed, internal communications expert and self-professed intranet nerd, certainly has. Starting with the “why” and ending with the “how”, Ephraim will leave you feeling like a bonafide expert ready to improve your own intranet’s search functionality in 30-minutes flat.


  • Why search matters
  • What makes search work like it should
  • Tips for managing and optimizing your intranet search
  • How to conduct a findability audit

So, whether your an intranet manager, a user, or still in the process of evaluating intranet vendors, this webinar is a great resource to help you learn how make the heart of your intranet beat stronger.

Download the corresponding eBook, then…

Watch the recording!

Continue reading...

Make it SEO: A Practical Search and Findability Audit for Intranet Content

In Search of Search, Part 3

In a Nutshell: If we can agree that search is the heart of your intranet, then a findability audit—i.e. determining how easy it is to find a specific piece of content—is akin to its annual health checkup. For part three of this series, Ephraim has designed a step-by-step guide that will walk you through optimizing your content to make it as findable—and as functional—as possible


To most intranet owners, the term “intranet search” sounds pretty ominous. But ominous with good reason: the unavoidable association with the Godfather of search—a.k.a. Google—makes intranet search sound convoluted and complex. It sounds like it might need a dedicated team of IT techies and a data scientist whose sole purpose is to tweak algorithms to optimize performance and results. It sounds, well, hard. Right? Wrong. It’s really not very difficult at all.


As mentioned, it’s easy to get lost in the assumed complexities of search. But it’s also easy to overcome those assumptions and get comfortable with it. Look at it this way: search is simply the ability to find what you need to help you achieve a specific task. In fact, good search should look as simple as this: click inside search box> type query> [relevant content] bubbles to the top of results> “click”. See, simple!

That said, there are many factors that contribute to making search “good” and one of those factors is the ever increasing cache of intranet-specific search queries that are carried out by your employees.

Continue reading...

Embracing the Journey: 9 Tips for Managing and Improving Intranet Search

In Search of Search, part 2

In a Nutshell: “Search Functionality” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an intranet, but an intranet without search would be like the internet without Google – fundamentally less functional. In part two of this series, Ephraim delivers 9 tips that will optimize your intranet’s search capabilities.


While you may not notice it, the search experience goes beyond the search box. Way beyond. Way, way beyond. In fact, the search experience runs so deep that it’s functionality is comparable to the chassis of a car: it may not be super sexy, it probably won’t win any awards, most folks will never understand or appreciate how critical it is, but without it, everything will fall apart.

Given such a high degree of importance (importance that will be reinforced over the course of this piece), you’d think that optimizing your intranet for search would be super complex… just look at how many people Google needs to make their search solution work! Well, good news: a measured amount of focus and rigor will allow you to achieve search nirvana in no time at all. And it starts with something you already have: content.


While your search setup may be technically on-point, delivering a great search experience is impossible without some good ole fashioned content. “Wait, what?” I hear you say. “But I thought that…..?” Yes, you’re right: content no longer holds the throne when it comes to optimizing your customer-facing online outlets, but when it comes to your inward-facing intranet—and as we discuss throughout this series—content still wears the crown; well-written, well-structured, fully-optimized content.

Continue reading...

Feeling Lucky? 13 Key Features & Practices for Managing Intranet Search

In Search of Search

In a Nutshell: As sure as water’s wet and days are long, content—in the broadest sense of the word—is the very heart of the intranet. Perhaps less obvious but no less factual is that search (think: Google) makes that heart beat. The same holds true for your intranet; an instance with poor search functionality is akin to a Google-less internet… it just, won’t, work, properly. But fear not, we’re here to help. In this 3-part content series Ephraim Freed, internal-comms expert-in-chief—the expert’s expert—looks at how to optimize the search functionality of your intranet. In Part 1, he details 13 critical features that deliver on the technical side of search management and the search interface.

First Things First

Fact: most organizations will face challenges around the search functionality of their intranet. But just as all challenges are little more than opportunities in disguise, search can become an indispensable resource (and, dare we say, a magical experience) for your employees; all you need is a solid set of features and a solid set of best practices to guide the way.

In this post, we’ve compiled a set of search-centric features that will boost productivity and refine your intranet experience. If search is about the destination, actually managing how that search functions is all about the journey, and the following features will help make that journey an infinitely more satisfying one.

Centrally Managing Search Results

1: “Best bets” for intranet search results
“Best bets” (similar to, but better than Google’s “I’m feeling lucky”) will ensure that the most relevant pieces of content are bubbled to the top of your search results.
Continue reading...

Recorded Webinar: Introducing ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria!

Register for the webinar to see how ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria adds flavor to your intranet.

Add flavor to your intranet — introducing ThoughtFarmer 8.5 Sangria!

ThoughtFarmer 8.5 helps your employees take charge of their productivity. We’ve enriched the platform with a cocktail of features that make it easier for employees to find the people and content they need to get their jobs done.

In this 30-minute webinar, presented by our awesome Director of Customer Success, Carolien Dekeersmaeker & friendly Sales Director, Amol Gill, you will:

  • Get a live tour of the latest features.
  • Learn how a social intranet can improve employee productivity.
  • Have the opportunity to get your questions answered by our experts!


This webinar is now complete, you can view the recording here:

Continue reading...

Intranet Tip: Four New Reasons for Your Employees to Engage the Intranet

In brief: Looking for fresh content ideas to revitalize your intranet and boost engagement? Learn about four new things you can include.


It’s no secret that the key to a successful intranet is populating it with content employees want to read. So whether you are looking to revitalize your intranet with new content or are seeking ways to increase engagement, we have four ideas to help you drive more traffic:

  • Job postings: Posting open positions on your intranet gives those eager to grow within the organization an opportunity to see what’s available.
  • Company success stories: Celebrating company or team wins is a great way to boost morale and performance. Publish them on the intranet so everyone can share in the success.
  • Events: Whether it’s an internal event or something going on in the community, put them in a calendar on your intranet to create some awesome team-building opportunities.
  • Humour section: The intranet doesn’t have to be all business. Create a section where employees can share funny gifs, videos, memes or jokes to give everyone a laugh during downtime.

Continue reading...

Intranet Tip: Why an Intranet Naming Contest is More than Just Crowdsourcing a Name

In brief: A naming contest is a great way to help employees build a connection to the intranet, keeping them engaged after launch.


Creating an emotional connection to the intranet is one way to keep employees engaged long after launch. Central 1 held a naming contest to get staff invested right from the get-go. After a few selection rounds (all moderated via the intranet) Beacon was chosen. But crowdsourcing a name did more than just create a unique identity, it helped garner user buy-in and fostered a sense of ownership.

Initiatives like this contributed to an eight percent increase in company-wide employee engagement. Want to find out what other amazing things Central 1 accomplished with their intranet? Read the full case study.

Continue reading...

A simple way to approach intranet governance

Governance is sometimes a scary word. It is often misinterpreted as a set of borderline Orwellian policies and procedures, when in reality it is little more than a set of shared values; it simply allows a company to track and manage the things it is supposed to.

At ThoughtFarmer, we see governance as overseeing an intranet after launch so as to ensure all employees are on the same page.

More than a set of official policies and procedures, governance does involve such things as training users, monitoring activities, collecting data. And a well thought-out model can be the difference between long-term success and eventual failure.

Why intranet governance is important

Trevor Allen, ThoughtFarmer’s senior user experience designer and resident governance expert says, “a social intranet is a way to cultivate an engaged culture and governance ties into employee and customer engagement”.

A well-defined governance structure can help overcome three common intranet governance roadblocks: politics, a lack of clear purpose and a lack of data. Furthermore, adoption can be difficult without an intranet strategy supported by governance processes, and sometimes roles and responsibilities change after an intranet project becomes a program. Finally, having a governance structure in place can help minimize confusion if intranet managers change or executive sponsors move on after launch.

ThoughtFarmer’s governance approach

ThoughtFarmer helps clients roll-out successful intranets by starting governance conversations early on in the project phase. This approach ensures that we can get the right people and right processes in the right place and at the right time for launch.

Continue reading...