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Communication and Collaboration

Do you have an intranet or a frankennet?

Is your intranet serving the needs of its users? Is it helping to drive business forward? If your answer is no, it might be time to rethink your current solution.

5 minute read
ThoughtFarmer Frankennet
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Intranet use cases

At ThoughtFarmer we’ve seen a lot of intranets over the last 15 years. Especially when meeting with some of our prospects for the first time, and they share their current solutions…err, shall we say, work-arounds. 

These work-arounds, or frankennets as we affectionately called them, were very prevalent during the early days of the pandemic.  They often were cobbled together solutions that kept the lights on, but failed to deliver any realistic expectations on how an intranet should look or perform.

Frankennets often begin with the best intentions, but can quickly spiral into an unproductive platform that isn’t conducive to growing your business or serving your users. Frequently organizations will start out thinking they need a document storage solution, and then quickly realize it falls short on other capabilities. They then try gluing together other solutions to try to fill the gaps, but end up with a disjointed solution. 

Or perhaps an organization might have access to an outdated SharePoint solution, and fear wasting time and resources required to fully reap the rewards. The burden of managing it inevitably falls to IT who don’t have the same priorities as HR and Comms teams. 

Here are some other downsides to having a frankennet: 

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Outdated information

Corporate policies, guidelines, documentation, and other media files should be easily accessible, and current. If you are running multiple communication solutions at once, this won’t be easy. Consider a document like your COVID-19 safety plan. Do employees know where this is located? And is the most recent version easily accessible? 

Employees aren’t using it

Adoption can be challenging regardless of the software or solution. However, if employees aren’t using your intranet it may be because it isn’t easy to use and additional training is required. Your intranet should be easy to use and keep employees wanting to return

No consolidation

Your intranet should serve as a central hub for productivity, news, and collaboration. This is why good intranets consolidate processes like project management and form submissions. Having this in a central location, doesn’t just save time, it saves money. 

Poor information architecture

If your intranet is beginning to look like it belongs in an episode of Hoarders, you might need a new solution. It’s always more comfortable and enjoyable to work in a clean environment than it is to wade through piles of information to find what you’re looking for. Poor organization heavily impacts intranet engagement, and unless remedied, can ultimately destroy it.

Ineffective search  

Your intranet depends on how fast users can find the information and people they need to be successful in their roles. Yes, as indicated above, information architecture matters, but equally important is search. Search allows users to find what they need without sifting through organizational structures. Frankennets often have weak search engines that lack capabilities such as “Did you mean?”, Best Bets, and find as you type. 

Employees aren’t collaborating

Are your employees using their intranet for collaboration? Is there shared communication across teams and projects? Intranets lose value when employees don’t collaborate or are reluctant to do so. If this isn’t happening on your intranet, it’s not the right solution. 

It’s constantly crashing

When an intranet goes down, it can be crippling to an organization—especially if this is where critical documents and information are stored. A lot of people with frankennets experience more downtown than they would like to admit, which inevitably can get in the way of achieving success.

Scattered content and information

Scattered information may not seem like a big deal, but if your employees have to visit multiple platforms to find accurate and current content, it’s going to cost your organization a lot of money. 

You need a single source of truth, and If you’re using a variety of disparate tools, it’s going to be very difficult to make that happen. 

No integration

If you are using multiple solutions, then you likely have multiple data sources, which isn’t going to make data collection or analysis easy. If you are using a collection of disparate tools, you’ll need an integration budget and integration tools. Also, be aware that these integrations may need attention on a regular basis.

Unreliable metrics and reporting 

As alluded to above, if you have data in multiple systems, you are at risk for making decisions with incorrect metrics and incomplete reports. The data itself may be correct, but if it is in multiple places it might not be telling you the real picture. Good intranets have strong analytics and reporting capabilities, which will help inform ongoing action plans and produce updated results for all of your critical KPIs.

If you’re considering running multiple tools at the same time, or if you’re thinking about one platform vs. many, your first step should be to document all of your requirements and use cases across your organization. This will hopefully provide you with insight into data, integration, and collaboration requirements. 

From here you can begin comparing current solutions with potential concepts. Regardless of your requirements, you will likely discover very easily that a single-platform approach makes the most sense. 

If you still aren’t sure whether you have an intranet or a frankennet, or if it’s worth pursuing a dedicated intranet, ask yourself “Is my intranet serving the needs of its users?” and “Is it helping to drive business forward?” If your answer is no, you probably know what needs to happen next.