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.
These are the factors your survey should aim to measure and should be at the core of your survey questions.
These can be questions about location, job level, department, or any other factors relevant to your company. More advanced survey software will allow you to examine results within demographic groups. Keep the demographic questions short and easy to answer.
Analytics will provide true metrics of how people are using your intranet. If you’re not using analytics, makes sure you’re tracking these key intranet metrics. However, it’s useful to measure self-reported information on how people perceive they are using the intranet.
If employees can’t use the features, they might as well not exist. Make sure your employees understand the features and know how to use them. Don’t forget performance—the speed of your intranet is a key factor in usability.
The lifeblood of any intranet is its content. Identify the top areas of your intranet, and find out how they are performing and identify how they could be working better.
Your intranet is the hub for your organization, and is often the home for key business applications, and links or integrations into other systems. Are these working, and are they useful for employees? Your survey will help identify this.
Keep it short
Apart from initial demographic questions, the core of the survey be fewer than 10 questions with consistent rating scales. Add open-ended questions to capture thoughts and ideas—these comments are the most useful part of a survey.
Use consistent rating scale for core questions
Use a five-point or four-point rating scale for the main questions. Come up with five answers for each question that fall along a scale from bad to good, negative to positive. You could use a format that offers a statement and then options for: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree.
Skip questions relating to saving time
A common approach has been to measure how long employees spend completing tasks, first on the old intranet and then on the new one, and convert it to a savings. The theory is that if we can save employees a few minutes a day looking for information on the intranet, we can then multiply this by the number of employees and the days in the year to realize a huge productivity benefit. This can then be used to justify the intranet, or improve the usability of one.
However, some argue that this method isn’t 100% reliable. Intranet expert James Robertson wrote a detailed article on 25 reasons why saving time on your intranet is a bad metric.
How to use the survey and the results
Identify who is responsible
Before creating the intranet evaluation survey, know who is responsible for improving the intranet and ensuring accountability to employees. This person will be responsible for designing the survey, communicating about it, reviewing results, planning intranet improvements in response, communicating with stakeholders, and communicating any changes triggered by the survey.
Capture a baseline of the old intranet
Ensure your intranet project plan includes time to design, test, and apply the intranet evaluation survey before the old intranet comes down. This will give you some great baseline data to compare all future results from the new intranet.
Re-apply every six months after launch
Send out the intranet evaluation survey with the same questions six months after launching the new intranet. Repeat one year after launch, at 18 months post launch, and again two years after launch, etc. Assuming your survey is short, it should consume only a fraction of employees’ time. If your organization already conducts semi-annual employee engagement surveys, consider sneaking in a few short intranet related questions.
Chart percentages rather than numbers
Look at results as percentages rather than focusing on the raw numbers. The number of positive responses could go up if the overall number of responses goes up, but reporting that will provide no valuable data. Instead, look for changes in the percent of positive and negative responses.
Review comments for trends
Open-ended questions offer employees an opportunity to share ideas, compliments, and helpful criticism. These comments can also help the intranet team highlight specific concerns and trends which rated questions can’t provide.
Report to leadership, stakeholders, employees
Review the results at the completion of the survey and report back to relevant audiences. Whether the results show positive or negative changes in employees’ feelings about the intranet, use the survey to help focus the intranet strategy. You may also want to craft a plan based on the results to present to stakeholders and leadership. If you go this route, offer a draft plan and be prepared to change the plan as you gather feedback.
Conclusion: Low overhead, useful approach
It can be very hard to show the concrete financial value delivered by an intranet, but showing the intranet’s impact may prove just as beneficial. A survey can provide data on your intranet’s success as well as offer insights about employee engagement—which many executives find more valuable than an ROI.
While measuring your intranet’s success may keep you ahead of the curve, simply measuring isn’t enough. If you don’t share the resulting data and act on the feedback, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to take advantage of the survey’s real value.