The Best Intranet Metrics Measure Business Outcomes

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How do you measure collaboration, employee engagement, and improved communication in hard numbers? How will you know if your intranet is successful?

Trying to create intranet metrics can be challenging. It’s certainly not as easy as, say, CRM software, where the classic sales pitch is “sell one more thing and the software pays for itself”. Since intranets affect many areas of the business and are used for many 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. It should be designed to drive business outcomes. (If you haven’t gotten this far yet, see How to Align Intranet Plans with Company Strategy).

Once you know the business outcomes you are trying to achieve, creating and implementing KPIs becomes pretty straightforward. From there, you can identify problems, celebrate success, and create an ongoing improvement plan.

Need-to-Know Terminology

Benchmarking: Comparing one’s business processes and performance metrics to industry bests. (For intranet benchmarking data, we recommend checking out the Digital Workplace Group, Prescient Digital, and the Worldwide Intranet Challenge).

Baselining: Initial known value which is used for comparison with later data.

Key Performance Indicators: “(KPIs) are simply a tool for assessing the impact of a particular project or activity. While these are often numeric in nature (‘improve sales by 20%’) they can also be qualitative (‘improve staff satisfaction levels’). In either case, metrics provide clear and tangible goals for a project, and criteria for project success.” — James Robertson, Metrics for knowledge management and content management.

The Measurement Process

intranet_measurement_process

Step 1. Clear Strategy

As we mentioned before, it starts with strategy. If you don’t have an intranet strategy, feel no shame (we see this frequently, where people have an idea of what they want the intranet to accomplish — but haven’t laid it out on paper)! Go back and create one now.

Step 2. Well-formed KPIs

Start by defining success.  Have a group discussion with intranet stakeholders asking “What does success look like?” Go through that journey together as a group to get buy-in. Everyone will be on the same page, so later when you review your KPIs, you’ll debate what to do about the metric, rather than “is this the right metric?”

It’s helpful to think about the kinds of evidence you will see when you’ve accomplished your goals. There are five general types of success evidence:

Success Evidence Type  Success Evidence Examples
Financial
  • Reduced travel expenses for internal meetings.
  • Reduced printing costs.
Behavioural
  • Employees store documents on the intranet instead of the shared drive.
  • Employees make fewer errors on routine processes.
Attitudinal
  • Employees express satisfaction with the new intranet.
  • Internal communications expresses delight with new functionality and tools.
Technical
  • Pages load more quickly than the old intranet.
  • Employees no longer have to contact IT to reset their passwords.
Experiential
  • Reduced time required to submit expenses.
  • Customers receive more consistent and accurate information.

Once you have defined success, take your evidence and think of ways you can measure it. Make a laundry list of all metrics you can think of. We can prune this down later. Here are a few examples, based on success evidence we defined above:

Success Evidence Examples  Metric Examples
Reduced travel expenses for internal meetings.
  • Quarterly travel expenses for internal meetings.
  • Quarterly travel expenses for internal meetings per employee.
Employees make fewer errors on routine processes.
  • # of errors made per month
  • # of rejected requests
  • # of rejected requests per employee
  • Average quality score for process errors (sampling).
Employees express satisfaction with the new intranet.
  • Average employee intranet satisfaction rating (survey).
Reduced time to submit expenses.
  • Total monthly hours spent submitting expenses.
  • Average monthly time to submit expenses.
Customer receive more consistent and accurate information.
  • Customer satisfaction with information received (survey).
  • Complaints per month about misinformation.

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’s 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 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 metrics.

Step 3. Implementation

Ideally, start implementing your KPIs prior to intranet launch, so you can get data from the start. 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. For more details on this step, watch our webinar on How to Use Intranet Statistics.

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. Measurement & Improvement Processes

The first thing you want to measure is your baseline data. 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 if possible.
  • 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.

Now that you have your baselines, you can set targets for your KPIs.

The final step is to summarize all your lovely KPIs and targets into a beautiful dashboard. The best dashboards are really simple. Display your KPIs and targets in a way where readers can easily see if targets are being met over time. Include notes on key insights, actions and steps being taken, and KPI definitions. Avanish Kaushik’s post on Strategic & Tactical Dashboard Design provides some excellent examples.

Sample_Intranet_KPI_Dashboard
An example of a carefully planned, Excel-based KPI dashboard

This blog post is based on content from our webinar Establishing Intranet KPIs and Baselines by our Analytics Practice Lead, Bryan Robertson.

Happy reporting!

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