Building an Intranet Business Case: Measuring Success

Drawing on the objectives we’ve already outlined, it’s now time to look closer and determine what goals you want your intranet to help you achieve. As mentioned before, you are likely to be asked what the tangible outcome of the proposed intranet is. And as great as stronger employee engagement is, your decision makers are going to expect something more concrete and measurable.

Most people understand the value of employee engagement, improved communication and collaboration, and increased knowledge share. Unfortunately measuring these things is a different beast. Not that it isn’t possible to measure, but it’s certainly not as obvious of a measurement as something like accounting software.

We talked in part one about the common reasons most organizations choose to acquire intranet software. Now let’s look at how each one of these objectives can be measured. This will not only help reinforce the frustration that likely got you to this point, but it will also help your decision makers recognize the specific outcomes of what you are proposing.

ThoughtFarmer has analytics built into the platform, making it easy to measure a lot of the below KPIs. We also suggest running an additional survey about six months after your intranet is launched to further reaffirm the success of your goals and objectives.

Knowledge management

We’ve already established than an intranet can facilitate and improve knowledge management. This can be measured by baselining how employees share new ideas and then measuring once an intranet is in place. You could also measure how many of these ideas were implemented.

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Save the date! ThoughtSummit 2019

Are you an intranet super-fan, a communications expert, or an IT champion looking to maximize your intranet’s potential?

We’re thrilled to announce the return of ThoughtSummit! This inspiring conference will feature two days of thoughtful presentations, practical advice, and great networking. You’ll build your intranet skillset with topics like intranet architecture, intranet optimization tips, the role of the intranet in the digital workplace, intranet design principles, and more.

Join us May 13-14, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. This year ThoughtSummit will be held at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. It’s located a few blocks away from the ThoughtFarmer office, and the historic Gastown quarter.

Call for speakers

Interested in speaking at ThoughtSummit? We’d love to hear from you! We’re looking for skill-building sessions, intranet case studies, and inspiring thought leadership. Fill out our speaker form if you’ve got an idea for a great talk.

Why should you attend?

Managing an intranet is no easy task. And to be successful you require new solutions to old problems and actionable solutions to new problems.

The ThoughtSummit conference will leave you feeling inspired, energized, and ready to tackle your intranet with tactics and strategies that you can put into action the minute you return to the office.

Join a vibrant and engaging community devoted to putting best practices, workplace trends, and key technologies into action. With high-impact sessions and solid networking opportunities, ThoughtSummit is the best place to find like-minded peers working towards the same goals.

Who should attend?

Intranet managers, communication professionals, enterprise thought leaders, company culture practitioners, HR professionals, knowledge management leaders, or digital workplace professionals.

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Top Five Intranet Trends for 2019

As an intranet software vendor, we’re often asked, “What do you think is going to happen next year with intranets?”, “What will the next big thing be?”, or “What challenges will intranet managers face in 2019?”

It’s no surprise that there is so much curiosity around the future of intranets. We are in an era of rapid technological change, and understandably there is a lot of anticipation around how these technological changes will affect the landscape of the digital workplace.

While we don’t exactly have a crystal ball, we do have over a dozen years of experience and insight into intranets and digital workplaces. This experience has allowed us to better forecast trends, better predict change, and better manage that change when it happens.

Below are our top five predictions for Intranet Trends in 2019.

Data Privacy concerns come to the intranet

Data privacy concerns have traditionally been focussed on customer data, and less so with employee data. With the release of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, an EU Regulation which came into effect last May) data privacy for internal employees has come to the forefront. The aim was to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and how it’s collected. But GDPR affected more than a company’s publicly accessible websites. It affected any vehicle used to collect, process, and store data. In short, GDPR also affected company intranets.

Understandably GDPR is adding an unexpected layer of complexity many organizations did not fully anticipate. GDPR rules require intranet vendors to show how they will use the data collected, how long it will be held for, and how to dispose of it.

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Building an Intranet Business Case: Identifying & defining the opportunity

If you have begun the journey of acquiring intranet software, you likely already understand its value. But that doesn’t mean what is obvious to you is obvious to everyone else—especially when you have a panel of decision-makers in front of you.

So before we go any further you need to understand how (or if) the intranet software you are proposing aligns with your business strategy. From there you can work to align your intranet goals directly to your business strategy.

For example, if you are a large retail organization, your core business may be focused on selling and promoting your goods. For your employees to excel at their job they require knowledge of the products, and even some industry knowledge and insight. But where is this information currently located? And is it easily accessible and shareable?

Or perhaps your business is a franchise, and your franchisees need access to branded documentation and collateral to maintain your corporate look and feel. Where are your franchisees currently accessing these resources? And how can you ensure they are using current and updated collateral?

Once you envision how your proposed intranet can align with your business strategy, it’s time to come up with actual intranet objectives. These objectives can come from multiple sources such as focus groups or online surveys, but regardless of where they come from, there are typically five reasons organizations pursue intranet software:

  • Knowledge management: An opportunity to capture, organize, and diffuse knowledge
  • Communication: A platform to disseminate news and important announcements
  • Collaboration: A centralized platform for teams and projects to succeed
  • Employee engagement/Workplace culture: A virtual location for personal employee interaction
  • Business efficiency: Automating tasks and processes, and supporting the simplification and automation of internal processes and practices.
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Webinar Recording: Empower your digital workplace with Office 365 & Google Drive

Remember when we relied on physical networks to share files and folders between departments? And we wondered why version control was such a headache?

Today, almost all work happens in the Cloud. Organizations around the globe rely on Office 365 and Google Drive to improve document access and collaboration, ensure content security, and reduce infrastructure costs.

Our latest release, ThoughtFarmer 9, features a seamless integration with both Google Drive and Office 365.

Join us for a brief tour of our latest integrations and learn how your organization can benefit from:

  • Better user experience: Organize, find, embed, and share content stored in your Google or Microsoft drives, without leaving your intranet
  • Comprehensive admin options: Single-click setup with advanced security and management options.
  • Enhanced security: Single sign-on via SAML, Group and Security Group synchronization options

There are two separate recordings, one dedicated to Google Drive, and one for Office 365. Watch one (or both) to see how ThoughtFarmer 9 can empower your digital workplace.

Google Drive

Office 365

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Designing, launching, and analyzing your intranet survey

In our first blog post on intranet surveys, we discussed the importance of an intranet evaluation survey, and how it is a key tool in gauging how your employees feel about your intranet.

Now we are going to take it one step further to help you design and launch an intranet survey to ultimately measure your social intranet satisfaction.

Applying an evaluation survey like the one below on a recurring basis will provide comparable data to show change over time. In addition to documenting improvements, the recurring evaluations can show the strengths and weaknesses of your intranet and trends in how it is being used and can provide guidance on how and where your intranet team can focus its efforts.

Step 1: Designing your social intranet satisfaction survey

Understanding your intranet’s purpose

Before we get into the specifics of which questions you want to ask on your survey, you need to first identify your intranet’s purpose. This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. Your intranet’s purpose can help raise the project above departmental politics and provides guidance on priorities. It should also link to your company’s missions, vision, values, and strategy.

The intranet purpose statement should clarify your intranet’s core goals, for which you want to measure impact. To do that you can align the survey questions with the intranet purpose statement.

Most social intranets aim to:

  • improve employee communication
  • improve team communication
  • improve access to information
  • improve collaboration
  • increase connections and knowledge sharing
  • streamline specific processes and
  • improve the sense of company community.
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People’s Choice Winner 2018: Destination Canada

One of our favourite intranet award categories is our People’s Choice Award.

We have a large community of intranet enthusiasts, so even though we feel like we know what makes a good intranet, it’s even more exciting to see what others view as a great one! We have to admit, this winner was a favorite of ours too.

Destination Canada designs intranet to reflect how people travel

As Canada’s national tourism marketing organization, Destination Canada is responsible for marketing Canada as a premier four-season tourism destination. Its 100 plus employees rely on accurate, up-to-the-minute market intelligence to stay competitive within the global tourism industry.

When they launched their new intranet—Explore DC—they had a clear end goal in mind: To ensure all employees could easily find relevant and visually appealing content. “With design as our beacon, we built our pages applying a blend of function and aesthetics moving to a more visual site to accommodate our international offices and reduce language barriers,” said Natasha Langlois, Strategic Advisor for Corporate and Employee Communications.

They even designed Explore DC to reflect how people travel: for leisure or for business. The right side panel of the homepage allows users to navigate their travels on the intranet with social features and links along that panel (calendar, social committee link, marketing Twitter feed, etc.). Meanwhile, the left side panel is all business, with links to external work sites and their corporate Twitter feed.

Icons also played an enormous role in their interface design and have positively impacted the user experience.

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12 things to move to your intranet

Whether you have recently deployed a new intranet, or you’ve had one for a long time, you probably already know the cliche that content is king.

While it’s obvious that there should be content on your intranet—and lots of it—what might not be so obvious is what content you should have on there. Again this sounds obvious, but your intranet is nothing without the discussions and documents that populate it.

Also, keeping content in other applications just because it’s always been there, only leads to stale outdated information. To get the most out of your intranet software, it should serve as a central repository for all corporate content.  Here are 12 things to move to your intranet:

1. Newsletters

While most organizations have retired the paper newsletter, many still aren’t reaping the rewards of a digital one—mostly because many people are still relying on email as their primary source of distribution.

Posting your employee newsletter on your intranet has many advantages over email. The ability to ‘like’ and comment gives you immediate insight into which stories or sections generate the most interest. Also, having your employee newsletter on your intranet provides an identifiable location where employees know to access the latest news, rather than searching through an email inbox. Furthermore, if you are looking to shorten publishing cycles, moving your newsletter to your intranet allows content owners to push out relevant content as it happens (no one wants to see company Christmas party photos in February).

2. Letters from the President

Traditional corporate memos with boilerplate language do little to connect employees and create engagement.

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Validate, verify, and maintain your intranet Information Architecture

Once you have launched your new Information Architecture (IA) it’s important to continue testing and validating all of your hard work. As your intranet grows, you’ll need to keep maintaining the IA to make sure your content remains findable and relevant to your users.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your IA or content at launch is; if you don’t maintain your intranet, the value it provides will decline over time. Often, an intranet will launch with a beautiful, well thought IA, that will degrade over time as content is bolted on without much thought. This continues until the voices of users crying out results in a large-scale IA rebuild, and the process continues again. To avoid this pattern, validating and verifying your intranet is one of the most important, yet underestimated tasks.

Validation and verification are independent procedures that are often used together for checking that a product, service, or system meets requirements and specifications and that it fulfills its intended purpose. Verification denotes precision whereas validation indicates the value of the end or final product.

Both your content and IA will evolve over time to meet the demands of your users. The IA needs to grow and change as new content is added or removed from the intranet.

Here are some simple validation and verification steps to ensure you are getting the most of your new site:

1. Review content

One of the biggest concerns with intranets is old, stale, inaccurate content but there are steps you can take to make sure your content stays continuously relevant:

  • Establish an annual cycle of content review, including reviewing the navigation to see where new content will fit.
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How to build your intranet sitemap

There is no exact science to building your Information Architecture (IA). You can build it from both the bottom up and/or the top down. We usually use a combination of both approaches.

Building from the bottom up

Using the results from the card sorting exercise and looking at the content inventory, you can begin building your lowest level groups. From the card sorting exercise, you should have an understanding of:

  • Content users consistently group in one specific category
  • Content users never group together
  • Content grouped in one category by some users, and another category by other users

You’ll also know some of the common category names used to describe the groupings. From the content inventory, you’ll know:

  • What content is a high priority and frequently used
  • How the content is organized (this will help you understand how people have historically grouped content)
  • The breadth of the content needed to accommodate in your structure

Other sources can be helpful when deciding how to group content. For example, your public facing website may not have the same content, but it is a great way to understand how products or services are organized. How-to guides or manuals are also a good source to see how content can be organized by task—take a look at the table of contents and see if those groupings can be applied to the intranet.

Once you have some lower level groups, begin combining them into higher level groupings and keep working upwards.

From the top down

As you work on creating lower level groupings, you can also think about your top-level categories and then build downwards to meet in the middle.

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