There are several factors that we believe are underestimated when it comes to building and creating a SharePoint intranet. The Digital Team at Ntegra has curated what they believe are the five most important to them when they have been building successful digital workplaces for our clients.
An intranet is an essential part of any company’s toolkit for operational success. By creating an effective intranet that encapsulates your culture and is easy to navigate you can increase productivity, knowledge sharing and collaboration within your organisation. When we say effective, we mean an intranet where team members can steer their way around easily and find what they are looking for promptly without any barriers getting in their way.
Before you start building anything or putting plans in place, do your research. Your Product Owner should be talking to the intended users from a variety of roles within your organisation. Some key questions to ask are – “What are the main goals you are trying to achieve?”, “What do people need?” , “How and where will they use it?” and “What functions are used the most?”
Remember, not everyone has the same needs. Different departments, different offices, different regions, and different job functions need to be taken into consideration. Everyone has different needs in terms of knowledge, the people they work with and the way they need to work. A good Intranet will cater for this and enable to teams to perform well individually and together. When a user logs in, your aim should be to make sure that the relevant information and tools are easily accessible to them. Having a personalised view tailored to the needs of the individual will be critical to this and will drive your adoption rates upon launch.
Personalisation is not limited to the tools and features that people use, content also needs to be personalised for the user – content should always be user-targeted and relevant; best accomplished by thinking of those logging in as groups of ‘audiences’ that have specific content needs depending on the factors mentioned previously.
Design links in well with personalisation as together they can help drive decisions. Functionality and features such as communication channels, quick document links or knowledge-based tools that are going to be used regularly need to be found at the top of the homepage, easily accessible to users. Striking the balance between a strong visual identity that clearly reflects your company’s brand and a clean interface that optimises functionality is hugely important.
Users can enjoy the experience of the site on any device when there is a clean interface that will keep the page high performing where users can effortlessly find what they were looking for and can efficiently continue their work. People don’t want to use systems and applications that are hard work to navigate around.
Enabling a great mobile experience is critical, particularly in the hybrid, distributed working environments that many of us find ourselves in. Intranets should be fast and easy to access from any mobile device, with particular attention paid to those elements that make the most sense to use whilst on the move, in particular, newsfeed, messaging, and people finder.
Within a SharePoint hosted intranet, Search is always going to be a key component that will be heavily used by employees across the business. Users want to be able to type in a few keywords and the collated results show what they were looking for.
This may take some time to perfect, but the first steps in the process are going to be key to success. Look at how your data is organised now, how it is categorised, who decides on what those categories are and how do users know to categorise new data and content they are adding. If you can get build or adapt a design that works for your existing data and makes sense for users, then you will be able to fully unlock the power that the technology offers.
The time invested in these first steps will be payback in the long run and will mean that the search capability and experience will in fact improve over time.
There is no point in investing time and money from your digital transformation programme in implementing a new Intranet if users are not willing to use it. We have spoken already in this article about some factors that can improve user adoption within your organisation through the use of design, search, and personalisation but you need to think further into your adoption process upon launch. Your adoption plan is just as important within the implementation process as the design, technology and content are. Remember, there is a difference between forcing and encouraging people.
Training and governance will be key to driving your adoption plan. Product Champions will need training to guide them into a new approach with the new Intranet so that they are comfortable with the application before roll-out to the wider business. It is also worth thinking if these Product Champions will be updating the content and news within the intranet. Are they the right people to have access to data and create engaging content? Should everyone have access to everything, or do you need to implement permission levels for more sensitive documents?
The more people are using your new intranet to more data and analytics you are able to collect to gain insight on how the application is forming. Gain insights from your KPI’s and data gathered from Google Analytics and Microsoft Graph to drive future changes to optimise the site.
Key to driving adoption is considering how you communicate with people within your organisation. Modern intranets enable a decentralised approach to internal communication – providing a gateway for employees to not only consume content but also create it. This enables a modern intranet to be a bi-directional platform for collaboration, rather than a publication service. The greater the engagement the more value and traction the platform will gather.
Try to put in place KPI’s that can be measured over time and will give you the ability to drive improvements and achieve the initial objectives you have set for the project. For example, if driving social engagement on the platform is key then make sure that you are recording and reporting on the number of comments made on articles and tag this by creator and topic so you can see how and what is actually driving engagement.
If your organisational structure is like most businesses post-pandemic, you will have a team of people dispersed across several geographical locations that do not physically work in the same office together. It is important that you find a way to keep them working in a way that is collaborative and easily contactable. An intranet isn’t just a one-way form of communication that is only providing information.
Depending on your company culture, try and achieve a two-way form of communication channel. An example of this would be embedding Twitter channels or users reading an article and sharing thoughts in a comment section at the end. Be conscious though and consider how social you want your intranet to be and how suitable it would be or if you would want to encourage these channels for your organisation as it will need to be regulated.
We are just scratching the surface with creating a successful company intranet and it can be difficult to decide on where to start. But if we have inspired you to create and optimise your intranet then Contact Us to find out more on how Ntegra can help.