Intranets can be beautiful. In fact, some of our customer’s intranets we consider to be works of art. They are uncluttered, easy on the eyes, and extraordinarily simple to navigate.
However, you can't judge an intranet by its cover. To truly know how successful it is, you need to dive into the data and analytics.
How do you measure collaboration, employee engagement, and improved communication in hard numbers? In other words, how do you measure your intranet's success?
This article is your step-by-step guide on how to measure your intranet success; but first, let's identify what makes a good intranet.
What makes an intranet successful?
A successful intranet is one that employees adopt and engage with. It keeps your employees (remote or in-person) happy, united, engaged, and productive, while helping you achieve your organization’s strategic goals.
An intranet is not a set it and forget it project. To keep employees coming back, your intranet must be treated as a living, breathing organism requiring constant nurturing. When executed properly intranets are the ultimate tool within your digital workplace
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How to Measure Intranet Success
Intranets impact many areas of the business and are used for different purposes within an organization. Quantifying this can feel like trying to nail jello to the wall.
The good news is that measuring intranet success is actually not that hard.
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 intranet success, and create an ongoing improvement plan.
*If you are looking for which specific metrics to measure, you can check our post 8 Key Intranet Metrics You Should be Tracking.
Follow these four steps to measure intranet success.
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. If you need additional help, check out our post on how to build an intranet business case.
Step 2. Define KPIs for intranet success
Discuss what intranet 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 intranet success evidence:
|Success Evidence Type||Success Evidence Examples|
Once you have defined success, take your evidence and think of ways you can measure it. Make a laundry list of all the intranet metrics you can think of. Here are a few examples, based on success evidence we defined above:
|Success Evidence Examples||Metric Examples|
|Reduced travel expenses for internal meetings.||
|Employees make fewer errors on routine processes.||
|Employees express satisfaction with the new intranet.||
|Reduced time to submit expenses.||
|Customer receive more consistent and accurate information.||
Refine your list for relevance (does it really measure the business outcome?) and feasibility (do I have the tools to measure it on a regular basis?) and action-ability (can we use it to make better decisions?).
Here are a few more tips for selecting great KPIs:
- Use the SMART goal framework. Good KPIs should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable (for targets), Relevant, and Time-limited.
- Rates, ratios, percentages, and averages are better for true comparison.
- The K in KPI is Key. What intranet metrics are absolutely mission-critical? Which ones would you take to a deserted island? Cut it down to a short list of the most important intranet metrics.
Step 3. Implement them
To get the most data from the start, begin implementing your KPIs prior to launching any software. You also want to pull as much data from the old system as you can before you stop using it. Test your new measurement process before it goes live. There may also be KPIs where, although they measure the intranet, the outcomes are seen in different systems. These could include quality reports, customer satisfaction surveys, employee surveys, timesheet systems, etc.
Step 4. Measure and Improve
We get a lot of questions about benchmarking intranet statistics and measuring the success of your intranet. Questions like:
- Can you show us what success looks like?
- Do you have any benchmarking data that we can compare to?
- Are there resources on how others have done so we can benchmark our success?
The reality is that all organizations are different. They vary in size. They use the intranet in different ways. And they have different busy and quiet periods.
When benchmarking your success, there are three approaches you can take:
- Baseline from launch: Take your baseline either from the last month of your old intranet or the first month of your new intranet. This is usually the easiest data to pull and may be all you have available. However, the other methods are more accurate and are preferable.
- Baseline against historical average: Look back at 12 weeks of rolling data and take an average. Because you are taking a longer period of time, the data is more likely to be accurate and should help remove any weird seasonality issues (for example, your intranet usage might drop significantly over the Christmas holidays).
- Baseline against the same period last year: This is the best method, but obviously requires a lot more data.
The final step is to summarize your KPIs and targets into a dashboard. Display your KPIs and targets in a way where readers can easily see if targets are reached. Include notes on key insights, actions, and steps taken, and KPI definitions.
Tips for a successful intranet
The success of your intranet is ultimately determined by its users. That’s why it’s worth conducting internal research to first determine what content your employees need and want. Though every organization has its own specific needs, here are some general tips that can help you achieve intranet success.
Mobile device capability
Mobile apps keep employees connected—particularly deskless employees and frontline workers. With the majority of employees working from home or in a hybrid setting, it’s harder for employees to stay updated and informed on critical news and information. A solid mobile app is a great way to stay connected and notified about important news or updates. It’s also a great way to improve intranet adoption.
Contributes to business objectives
The best intranets contribute to real business objectives. For example, our customer Lenczner Slaght is deeply committed to promoting and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in their workplace. Their intranet helps them support this through a dedicated EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) page. This page includes links to various policies, an EDI Listening Box, and a curated Twitter feed. They also recently added name pronunciation buttons on all of their website biographies.
Ability to broadcast emergency communications
Notifications can be a powerful way to keep employees informed. However too many notifications can have the opposite effect, with employees choosing to mute them. This can be problematic in the event of an emergency. An emergency broadcast alert system on your intranet empowers communications professionals with an easy, efficient way to quickly send all employee alerts—even through to their mobile device.
Self service features
Employees don’t have the time or patience for confusing intranet navigation. A successful intranet makes it easy for employees to quickly find what they are looking for. If there are links and content you know are popular, make sure you include that content up front, or in quick links. Determining which pages are the most popular is another topic altogether, and you can learn more about optimizing intranet navigation through a process called task testing.
A good intranet is sticky, and has a way of keeping users coming back day after day. This requires not only new and frequent content, but content that is personalized and targetted to its users. Personalized content also removes the ‘noise’ of any content that is not relevant to employees.
Powerful search functionality
Employees will lose faith in their intranet if they cannot locate the people and information they want, at the speed they expect. Research estimates that enterprise organizations lose nearly $2.5 million annually due to employees’ inability to locate and retrieve critical information. Your intranet should allow faceted and filtered search and should mimic the ease of Google search. Anything else is wasted time—and money.
Minimal visual and cognitive noise
Have you ever looked at an award winning intranet you probably noticed the simplicity of the user interface. But a beautiful intranet isn’t just another pretty face, it also helps to encourage high visitation and adoption. Some of the most successful intranet have minimal visual and cognitive noise.
Here is an example of one of our award winning intranets:
User-configurable links and bookmarks
A perfect intranet creates a strong user experience that empowers employees to manage and monitor their own areas of interest. One way to achieve this is to ensure pages and content can be bookmarked for later viewing. This ensures employees have quick access when they need it, yet doesn’t interfere or distract them from other tasks.
Intranets have come a long way in the last 20 years. However, it’s more important now than ever to get strategic with your intranet. Having a thorough understanding of your intranet’s success will help you decide whether to “keep doing what you’re doing”, or whether it’s time to redefine your internal communications.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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