"What’s the return on investment (ROI) for this intranet?”
It’s a common question, and one often answered by digging into intranet analytics.
However, as useful as analytics are, they do not give you an understanding of why users 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 through an intranet evaluation survey.
An intranet evaluation survey gauges how employees truly feel about their intranet. In addition to documenting improvements, running a survey can also 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 an intranet ROI may be worth pursuing, it isn’t the only thing worth measuring. It’s equally, if not more important, to measure the actual impact of your intranet.
What to include in an intranet evaluation survey
Be clear on your 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.
These are the factors your survey should aim to measure and should be at the core of your survey questions.
As mentioned, intranet analytics are great but it’s important to record and 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 work even 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.
Tips on a productive intranet evaluation survey
Keep it short
Apart from initial demographic questions, your survey should 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 four to five-point rating scale for the main questions. You could use a format that offers a statement and then options for: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree.
Be weary of questions relating to saving time
A common approach is to measure how long employees spend completing tasks, first on the old intranet and then on the new one, and convert it to 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. 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.
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Don’t forget to 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.
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 employee 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
Whether the results show positive or negative changes, publicize results, and refocus your 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
Demonstrating an intranet ROI is challenging, but showing the intranet's impact may prove just as beneficial. An employee 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.
For further information on intranet surveys (and some sample intranet survey questions), we suggest checking out the next step in this process: Crafting, Launching, and Analyzing your Intranet Survey.
*Editor's note: this post was first published in 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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