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

communities of practice

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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They’re back! ThoughtFarmer’s Best Intranet Awards

It’s time to celebrate the most innovative, collaborative, and impactful ThoughtFarmer intranets!

Are your employees connecting on a more meaningful level? Does your intranet design make it easy for employees to find who and what they are looking for? Has there been a measurable outcome worth applauding?

Because we recognize intranet success on varying levels, we have three different categories to choose from this year:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Why Enter?

Great intranets don’t just happen. Even the best technology still requires the right planning, launch, and promotion.

And as you know, the results are worth it: Increased knowledge share, stronger collaboration, and improved employee engagement. The 2018 ThoughtFarmer Best Intranet Awards are a great way to celebrate the success of your intranet.

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What is a Digital Workplace?

Run a Google search for what is a digital workplace? and you will uncover over six million results.

What you won’t find however is a consistent definition. As the popularity of the term digital workplace has increased, so too have the interpretations. Not since the emergence of Big Data, have so many experts felt the need to weigh in with their explanation.

Part of the reason it’s been so challenging to nail down a definition is because the line between the physical office and the place where work actually happens is becoming more blurred.

Definitions also vary because the digital workplace means different things to different people.

Since the concept changes according to industry and individual, we’ve never really managed to progress beyond an abstract or theoretical definition. Each variant is inherently ambiguous.

The History of the Digital Workplace

Up until recently the term workplace referred to a physical space where employees went to get work done. Now the term is more conceptual. A workplace is now an always-connected environment that provides instant access to everything employees need to get work done.  

As far back as 2009, Paul Miller, CEO and founder of Digital Workplace Group (DWG), included digital workplace in his lexicon. It was conceived as an understanding that an exploration into how technology would affect both the workplace and the nature of work would be necessary.

A few years later, Miller authored the book: The Digital Workplace: How technology is liberating work. Miller’s angle focused on the evolution of the workplace and how work happens.

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How-to guide for intranet content audits

intranet content audit

A content audit is the process of cataloging all the pages and files on your intranet (as well as file server and other content repositories) and determining the quality and usefulness of each content piece.  But before we get to the guide, let’s first consider what a content audit is, and why it’s good for your intranet.

Yes, content audits require effort, but they are critical because they are the first (and arguably the most important) step in developing a solid information architecture (IA). Good IA is necessary if you are aiming for any level of intranet adoption.

intranet content audit

But before you organize anything, you need to know what you are organizing. This is where a content audit comes in.

Why an intranet content audit is important

Not only is a content audit an important step in building an optimized,  user-friendly IA for a new intranet, it can also help determine if your current structure needs some TLC.

As Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Content Strategy Agency BrainTraffic put it, “A Content Inventory is Your Friend.” Halvorson recognized the benefits of content inventories, identifying content owners, or finding items still in need of updates.

A content audit isn’t simply a rote admin task. Rather it lays the groundwork for many important next steps and can help to:

  • Identify active content owners  and build engagement
  • Discover useful material you didn’t know you had
  • Reduce migration costs and free up server space

Step-by-step guide to intranet content audits

Based on our experience of conducting numerous intranet audits for clients, we’ve come up with a few steps to help you manage and sort through your intranet content.

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What Collaboration Really Means

The word collaboration is so overused and overhyped it’s becoming meaningless. People refer to all software with a social component (Chat, messaging, document sharing, etc.) as collaboration software; and this causes confusion.

Even with the launch of new intranet software and other collaborative tools, some people still suffer from, and complain about, poor collaboration.

This forced us to ponder the true nature of collaboration and explore its many dimensions. Most importantly, we discovered that collaboration is a deeply human activity, and no tool on its own can solve the problem of poor collaboration.

This may seem obvious, but many people believe that “if you build it, they will come”, and if you just launch a tool like an intranet, the magic will happen. We know that organizational culture and managerial practices can either hinder or nurture collaboration, but it took a lot of failure and org dev theory to discover that fact.

A useful definition for collaboration

In response to bad collaboration we wanted to craft a definition that could inspire a more holistic, useful, and simpler perspective. We eventually landed upon this definition:

Two or more people working together towards shared goals.

That’s it — just nine words to define collaboration. It’s a very simple definition. But simplicity is necessary when collaboration has become overly-hyped, where social business vendors are trying to sell new ways of working to confused companies, and where business experts constantly stress the importance of building more collaborative and innovative organizations.

collaboration is

Dissecting collaboration

This simple definition includes three parts:

  1. Two or more people (team)
  2. Working together (processes)
  3. Towards shared goals (purpose)

This definition doesn’t mention technology or software, but it does provide a solid framework for understanding what collaboration is and isn’t.

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Webinar: Are you getting the most out of your intranet?

After working with hundreds of organizations on their intranet projects, a common theme has emerged: Companies seek out an intranet to solve a communication, collaboration, culture, or even a content challenge.

Whether you’re just beginning your project and aren’t sure what kind of objectives to set, or you are further along in your intranet journey and want to see how other companies are solving challenges similar to yours, this webinar will surface best practices that you can start using right away.

Join us and other members of the intranet community on Wednesday, March 28th, to:

  • See what our clients are doing with their intranets
  • Learn tactics around using the intranet to fulfill organizational objectives
  • Have your questions answered by an expert (he has seen it all!)

This webinar is now complete. View the recording:

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How to Better Communicate Your Intranet Requirements

Are you a company looking for a new intranet? Are you looking for a way to make your evaluation process a lot easier?

Selecting an intranet solution can feel overwhelming. There are many different products and platforms available, which makes differentiating between them all a little challenging.

Most organizations will appoint a project owner (usually a communications manager, IT manager, or HR manager) to gather requirements from project stakeholders, identify a list of vendors, and evaluate these tools against the requirements to ultimately make a recommendation and selection.

While this process “works” in the way that something ends up being purchased, it often results in the selection of a product that doesn’t quite meet the needs of its users. Software is often purchased based on features, whereas success hinges on its usability. Sure the platform has all (or most) of the features deemed important, but if they are difficult to use, employees won’t be able to get work done.

How can organizations avoid this trap? Capturing the needs of stakeholders is important, but the form of those needs and requirements is critical. A while back we received a set of requirements from a potential client who was in the process of evaluating ThoughtFarmer. They sent us a detailed spreadsheet with their requirements, as expected. But what was different was the way they documented their requirements.

Instead of a list of features written as “the system shall do X,” they instead took each requirement and placed it in the context of the user.

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