Content Formulas favourite intranet, SharePoint and Office 365 blog posts from 2017

Its nearly 2018, and as well as looking forward with our predictions for the coming year, weve been looking back over the past 12 months. Its been another exciting year for Content Formula, with our flourishing partnership with Wizdom Intranet, our continuing client work and our attendance at numerous conferences and events.

During 2017 weve also written a lot of articles for our blog covering intranets, SharePoint, Office 365, the digital workplace and more! Some of these posts are relevant to those starting out with an intranet project, while some will resonate more with those who already have a mature platform. So there’s something for everyone. Heres a selection of our most popular posts.  Happy reading!

15 ways you can integrate Office 365 functionality into your intranet

Many organisations are basing their intranet on SharePoint Online and Office 365.  This provides an excellent opportunity to integrate some of the powerful tools from the Office 365 suite right into the intranet experience, allowing you to drive adoption and improve efficiency. In this post our UX Director John Scott lists 15 of the most powerful ways to integrate Office 365 and your intranet. Get ready for lots of screenshots!

We need a new intranet. Where do I start?

Occasionally we stumble across a company which still doesnt have an intranet, or has grown rapidly to the point where it really need one. This article looks at the broad steps teams need to follow to get a new intranet from starting an internal conversation to building a strategy and business case all the way through to implementing that intranet project.

Define your intranet strategy before you buy your intranet

Were always surprised by the number of organisations who have no intranet strategy but are still going full steam ahead with buying intranet software and starting a project. In this thoughtful post Dan Hawtrey explains what an intranet strategy is and outlines seven key reasons for developing one. He also reiterates the importance of research and understanding your users to deliver a successful intranet.

How to be an intranet video star

So far video had a bit of a bumpy ride inside the enterprise compared to the consumer world. The meteoric rise of YouTube hasnt exactly been matched by the success of internal video sharing platforms. In this video (about video!) John Scott explores how you can move forward with video on your intranet. Its based on a well-received presentation John gave at the IntraTeam conference in Copenhagen in the Spring.

Making the business case for your intranet

How do you go about making a business case for your intranet? What should you include in it and what type of evidence do you need to argue your case?  And how should you present it? This very practical checklist is full of tips and advice and a great starting point for preparing an argument to present to your stakeholders.

Stay close to your users to deliver a great intranet

Here at Content Formula we know how important it is to listen to and actively involve your users in an intranet project. Staying close to your users helps you to carry out the effective user research needed to build a great intranet as well as test and validate the design. It also supports your  change management efforts as you build advocacy through involvement. This post explores the contribution users make and how to involve them throughout your project.

Microsoft unveils whole host of Office 365, SharePoint and OneDrive updates at #MSIgnite

OK, we admit we are a bit geeky here at Content Formula, especially when it comes to Office 365 and SharePoint. Naturally we always are excited by what Microsoft will reveal in its announcements at the annual Ignite conference. Here our Technical Director Joe Perry lists some of the major changes on the horizon from new hub sites to improvements to Teams to a whole new SharePoint admin centre.

Got Office 365? Why opting for a non-SharePoint intranet is madness!

This post was partly inspired by a conversation we had with a potential client about whether it was right to go with a non-SharePoint intranet when they had Office 365. In our view it doesnt make much sense at all!  This article covers how a SharePoint intranet allows you to fully leverage your investment in Office 365 by integrating with the wider suite of tools, helping to drive adoption and creating a gateway to your digital workplace. It also reduces costs, avoids user confusion and means youre future-proofed!

Running an intranet RFP an agency view

We often get asked to participate in RFPs to win new work. If youve never run an RFP process before it can prove to be time-consuming and require a lot of effort. Here Dan Hawtrey gives his thoughts on how to manage an intranet-related RFP and provides some tips for success that will help you to choose the best digital partner for your company.

Buy or build your intranet? Off-the-shelf versus custom build (webinar)

Back in April we held a webinar led by Dan Hawtrey and John Scott which examined how intranets have shifted over the last couple of years from being mainly custom-built for each individual organisation to where purchasing an off-the-shelf intranet now makes more sense. In this recording we take a deep dive into the buy or build question and rate the two approaches across different criteria such as cost, access, scope, speed and relevance.

And lots of information about Wizdom features!

Way back in January we announced our partnership with Wizdom, the leading SharePoint-in-a-box product. Wizdom comes packed with features and capabilities, some of which weve covered throughout the year.

So if you want to read about Wizdoms excellent Learning Management System, its highly useful policy library feature, the instant intranet Accelerate module which revolutionises deployment or its great approach to news (mixing more formal corporate news and informal noticeboard items), then youve come to the right blog!

Keep on reading!

Were going to be carrying on writing post and articles in 2018 covering practical advice and tips, the latest developments in the SharePoint and Office 365 world, our thoughts and more. Let us know if theres something youd like to cover. See you next year!

Wizdoms continual improvement: a look at Wizdoms product roadmap

One of the reasons Content Formula chose to partner with Wizdom is the teams continuing investment in the product and a strong commitment to continual improvement. Just as Microsoft continues to add to Office 365 and introduce new features, the team at Wizdom is very active in driving a programme of enhancements.

In fact, at the time of writing, there have already been seventeen releases to the Wizdom platform since the beginning of the calendar year already. By the time you are reading this there will probably have been an eighteenth release.

While the improvements and plans for WIzdom are heavily influenced by the latest developments on the Office 365 and SharePoint roadmap, the primary driver for prioritising changes is feedback from Wizdoms customers. The team back in Denmark are very good at listening to customers and assimilating their needs into the product roadmap. Were in frequent conversation with Wizdom HQ too, giving feedback from our customers who have installed or are on their way to installing a Wizdom intranet.

Wizdoms commitment to continual improvement means several features have recently been introduced, and that there are more enhancements on the horizon. Here are some of the recent and upcoming changes were most excited about.

Recent improvements

Many of the recent changes to Wizdom have improved the user experience. For example, notifications have recently gone through a complete overhaul with a notifications bar displaying personalised updates for individuals including @ mentions from other users in posts.

Other developments have been more about the configuration of the product.  These include the recent introduction of the Accelerate module, a semi-automated way to provision a whole site structure. After just one meeting (where we will go through a structured process with a client) an intranet team can have an intranet which they can start to add content to. This helps drive agile project delivery, reduces costs, speeds up implementation and allows intranet teams to better envisage their site structure and templates.

Lightning pages and cloud performance

The Accelerate module is just one way to make installing an intranet quicker, but there are other changes being made to improve speed and performance. The speed at which intranet pages load isnt always acknowledged as a key component of the intranet user experience, but theres nothing more frustrating than waiting for a page to fully render, particularly if youre accessing the intranet from outside your network and you have weak connectivity.

In response Wizdom has introduced the Lightning pages module, allowing certain popular templated pages within your intranet (such as the homepage) to load faster than they would in traditional SharePoint.  In parallel, Wizdom has also worked on various optimisations which also enhance cloud performance, working even on minor tweaks to code. Collectively weve seen all these changes make an improvement to page speeds which will be noticed by your users.

Multi-geo support

Speed and performance will be further improved over the next few months as the Wizdom team intend to work on a multi-housing arrangement for Wizdom, which will allow global companies to receive Wizdom from servers located in more than one region. Potentially this means Asia-Pacific based workers could receive Wizdom from a server based nearer to them rather than a server based in Europe, again resulting in better page load speeds. This development mirrors Microsofts commitment to give SharePoint a similar multi-geo capability which was recently announced at Ignite.

Introducing the Service Desk

Wizdom has already introduced employee services capability into its intranet, including a great course management module to drive employee learning and development.

The latest addition is the Service Desk capability, which organisations can use as a cost-effective way to run a lightweight IT or HR helpdesk. Employees can log tickets directly via the intranet and helpdesk teams can track progress to resolution.

This innovation was based on original functionality developed by Wizdom for a bank logging customer calls, so its already been through some robust use. Were expecting over the coming months there will be more enhancements to the Service Desk, giving customers another option to extend their intranet into a wider digital workplace. Note that there is an additional charge for the Service Desk module above the core Wizdom intranet product.

More help and training

Another improvement were looking forward to is an expansion of Wizdoms current help and training portal Wizdom Success Centre. We find that our clients like to be as self-sufficient as possible in extending the possibilities of their Wizdom intranet and an expanded help portal will help. Wizdom are going to be adding more knowledgebase content and how-to videos to truly make the portal the go to place for everything to do with Wizdom, ultimately allowing customers to get more out of their intranet.

The modern experience

A key change in SharePoint has been the introduction of modern experiences, resulting in pages which have an updated and more contemporary look and feel than classic SharePoint. Were expecting this to have a significant impact on Wizdoms roadmap into 2018, meaning that there will be full support for SharePonts modern experience over the coming months.

Well keep you posted

Were excited about whats ahead for the Wizdom platform. Its a great product with a continuing programme of investment, with new features and improvements coming through next year and beyond. Well be covering these on the Content Formula blog so check back often to keep up to date on the latest news!

Content Formulas intranet and digital workplace trends for 2018

Were often asked by clients about the latest trends in the digital workplace and the intranet.  Whats happening in the space? What are we going to see in the coming months and years? Its also that time when we start to plan for the next year and reflect on the old. So, bringing that all together, here are some of our predictions for what will happen to digital workplaces and intranets in 2018.

Of course, making predictions about technology comes spring-loaded with the risk of getting it wrong. Technology-related predictions can completely overlook something or be widely optimistic. How many times have you looked back at hilarious predictions from decades ago which said wed all be flying around with personal rocket packs by now, but completely failed to see the internet coming?

However, there are also some trends which were more confident about. Some of these are already happening now and will continue into the new year.  So, dusting down the Content Formula crystal ball, its time to gaze into the future. Heres our predictions!

Intranets continue to integrate with the wider digital workplace

If you work with intranets youll be aware of all the talk about the wider digital workplace the portfolio of other applications and digital tools used throughout the organisation. Intranets often play a role as the front door to the digital workplace, either through links, favourites and service catalogues, or through integrated web parts which display data or allow users to complete simple transactions.

Sometimes other digital tools can be accessed via the intranet navigation or through landing pages, particularly when an intranet is based on SharePoint and parts of Office 365 are integrated with it. In 2018 we believe intranets will continue to be ever more tightly entwined with the wider digital workplace with further integration as the trajectory.

2018 is the year of the digital assistant

Digital assistants and chatbots are currently the focus of attention for many internal communicators and IT functions, and numerous organisations are currently experimenting with bots, or are in the process of deploying them.

We predict that 2018 will be the year of the digital assistant in the enterprise. Well be reading a lot about case studies and examples. The rise of enterprise-ready messaging platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and Workplace by Facebook gives a natural channel for bots to be successful, and even voice-activated tools like Alexa from Amazon are now also launched for the workplace.

Everybodys going mad for Teams

Were noticing a real groundswell of interest from clients in the use of Microsoft Teams. With Microsoft pushing this as a core part of Office 365, we think it will become a major focus for collaboration in the enterprise during 2018.

Dont be surprised if you also start to see some integration with Teams into the intranet. For example, were currently working with a client on an intranet project where users will be able to access the list of Teams they are registered to from the very heart of the intranet as well as archive old Teams content, tag it and make it fully searchable.

Wave goodbye to year-long plus intranet projects

Weve written before about how in-a-box products and agile development has helped to speed up intranet projects. You can deliver an excellent intranet in weeks if you wish. We think (and hope) that 2018 will finally put the kibosh on painful, energy-zapping year-long SharePoint intranet projects and banish them to the past. Faster implementations produce earlier ROI, are less costly and are more satisfying for everyone involved.

Renewed interest in governance

Governance sounds like a very dry topic, but its critical for success. Having the right processes, policies, roles and rules in place lets intranets and digital workplaces flourish and reduces the risk of something going wrong.

We believe several factors in 2018 will put governance back into the spotlight. As Microsoft continues to roll out more and more features of Office 365, central teams are likely to want to lock down some of the functionality for every day users.

Meanwhile cyber-security and reducing the risk of data breaches will continue to keep IT managers awake at night. GDPR compliance, coming into operation in May, will also be a huge focus for digital teams and it needs to be considered for the digital workplace and employee data too, not just customer information. Having the right governance measures in place is the best approach to all of the above.

More choice than ever in the intranet market

Throughout 2017 weve seen a growth in the breadth of the range of options for intranet teams, particularly for turnkey solutions, some based on SharePoint and some not. Product proliferation will continue through 2018 with new market entrants and more product enhancements. Thats undoubtedly going to increase the choices for intranet teams, as competition will help to drive better quality products, good customer service and product innovation.

At Content Formula weve partnered with Wizdom, the best in-a-box solution on the market. We may even start to see some consolidation in the market, although we suspect this is more likely to happen in 2019.

The usual issues are still the usual issues

Weve been working with intranets for well over a decade and during that time theres some issues which never really go away. Yes, intranets really have evolved for the better and take in a wider set of functionality and capabilities, but teams are still driving adoption, getting excellent content and tackling challenges around findability. These issues continue to preoccupy intranet managers every year and 2018 will be no different!

Happy New Year!

Whatever happens in 2018, we think its going to be an interesting one for intranets and the digital workplace! And, of course, everybody at Content Formula wishes all our clients, partners, friends and contacts a very happy, successful, and healthy year ahead!

Wizdom adds award to list of merits

Intranet Choice Europe 2018

Our partner Wizdom, leading provider of the highest rated intranet solution built on SharePoint and Office 365, has been awarded the Intranet Choice Europe 2018 recognition by ClearBox Consulting in their newly published and extensive Sharepoint Intranets In-A-Box report for 2018 thus adding to Wizdoms list of merits.

The 437-page report from UK based ClearBox, aimed at intranet managers and IT teams, evaluates 42 intranet vendors via an unbiased approach adhering to the companys Vendor Neutral policy giving potential intranet shoppers insights to base purchase decisions on. Here Wizdom excelled in the eight different scenarios with sets of criteria that make up the backbone of the evaluation with vendor questionnaires and live demonstrations as the key contributors.

With a Cool Vendor in the Digital Workplace 2017 recognition from Gartner already well in place under Wizdoms belt this year, the ClearBox recognition is a prestigious addition highlighting Wizdoms feature rich and 100% customizable intranet solution.

We are extremely thrilled with the recognition from ClearBox says John Wainer, CEO and Partner, Wizdom. It emphasizes the quality of our Wizdom product and the hard work of our development team to continuously offer an evergreen product that matches the needs and requirements of the market whether youre a SMB or enterprise corporation John Wainer ends.

More information and purchase of the report from ClearBox Consulting is available from the companys website here.

The original article was published here.

How Wizdom Intranet provides multiple options for customisation

SharePoint has a perception in the marketplace for being a complex application that can be time consuming and require internal expertise to deliver even basic requirements. With the introduction of SharePoint Modern experience and Wizdom’s updates to make it compatible with Modern, there are now many ways to deliver custom functionality on an intranet.

SharePoint Modern (or SharePoint Framework (SPFx), as it is known by developers), is the new way to develop on SharePoint and enables client-side development for building SharePoint experiences – facilitating easy integration with the SharePoint data, and providing support for open source tooling development. With SPFx only reaching General Availability in Feb 2017, the Modern experience is still not fully fledged but there’s a lot to like. And it’s all available on Wizdom too.

When developing on SharePoint, often best practice can be overlooked, and sometimes not even understood. When working on Office 365 best practice is extremely important – all it can take is one Microsoft update to SharePoint Online and your intranet can become completely unusable if custom code has been implemented in an incorrect manner.

This is where an off-the-shelf intranet, like Wizdom Intranet can help by providing a more structured and manageable way of deploying features, making use of components like Custom Modules and a unified REST API. Importantly, Wizdom doesn’t conflict with any custom developments you already have in place, and still allows you to develop on SharePoint using out of the box SharePoint way – creating custom JavaScript and creating page layouts.

Wizdom Custom Modules & Administration

installation_of_wizdom

When using the Wizdom app on a site collection (by the way, you can pick and choose which of your site collections you use Wizdom on and which you don’t), you are provided with a rich administration interface that makes it straightforward to use.

Wizdom provides over 50 modules and features that each have their own configurations settings via the app. These modules come with the ability to completely control the way your information is displayed to your users by way of display templates – easy to use HTML templates that require only a small amount of coding knowledge to change the look and feel of them completely.

Also built in to this app is a feature that allows you to create custom modules of your own. These modules are administered within the Wizdom application and loaded straight in to SharePoint for you. This gives you a centralised place to manage all of the custom code applied to your SharePoint site.

Wizdom API

Wizdom has many REST endpoints available for customer use. These endpoints allow you to not only manipulate the Wizdom application, but also information within your SharePoint environment. The APIs that Wizdom offer also make it easier for you to integrate your third party applications with your intranet by providing well documented and data rich endpoints that extend SharePoint’s out of the box ones.

Native to SharePoint

wizdom_sharepoint_add-in…and what’s more, Wizdom comes completely native to SharePoint! Wizdom uses the SharePoint Add-in Framework to richly integrate with SharePoint as well as the rest of Office 365: so when O365 is updated (and there was over 450 updates last year), those updates are immediately available to you on SharePoint without any necessary changes or upgrades to Wizdom.

 

Future proofing your intranet: how Wizdom Intranet can give you a head start

This month Office 365’s monthly commercial users hit a record 120 million, up from 100 million in April 2017. Microsoft are heavily investing in it’s product and infrastructure, and as such things are ever evolving and changing giving you new features every week. It was recently announced at Ignite 2017 that SharePoint will be rolling out Hub sites to compliment the new team and communication sites. These sites will be completely configurable and customisable via the SharePoint Framework. However, they aren’t seen to be replacing Publishing sites and will only be used primarily for basic knowledge sharing. This is where a product like Wizdom can be used to supplement an intranet and offer much more focused tools to enrich a users experience.

Wizdom is a product that sits natively on SharePoint and provides intranet owners a powerful toolkit that is constantly growing. This toolkit is fast moving and provides regular updates to coincide with new Microsoft features and tools. Below we’ll run through how we achieve this and some of the things that are coming up for Wizdom.

Wizdom upgrades

Wizdom has a built in upgrade module that makes rolling out updates to the core application extremely straightforward. The Wizdom product teams consists of over 50 people constantly working on the product and so far this year, there has been 16 updates available to our clients, offering new and exciting features such as the new notification toolbar, Wizdom Success Center, Service Desk Business App, mobile lightening pages, and many, many more pieces of functionality.

An upgrade doesn’t cause downtime on your intranet and will never cause feature or customisation interruption .

Office 365 and SharePoint updates

Lat year alone it was touted that Microsoft released upwards of 250 updates to Office 365 and SharePoint. With Wizdom being a native application, as soon as Microsoft make a change, that change will be available to you!

To ensure that you never have a problem with any of the updates that Microsoft roll out, Wizdom have access to preview and first release tenants to constantly check to make everything continues to work as expected. And if something doesn’t, we can quickly push out a new Wizdom upgrade before any change is made by Microsoft!

Wizdom’s roadmap

Wizdom itself being a product does have a product development roadmap. With the ever changing landscape that is Office 365, the Wizdom roadmap is constantly evolving, but key developments over the next 6 months will be:

  • Modern pages and webparts: SharePoint’s transition to modern pages is providing products like Wizdom with much more power and flexibility. Wizdom are working making all their webparts deploy-able on both modern and classic pages.
  • Microsoft Teams integration: Teams is a product that is extremely popular at the moment, and Wizdom are working on integration points in SharePoint to make information such as joined teams and documents available to all users.
  • Wizdom Success center: The Success center has been launched for 2 months now and has ever evolving content that helps ensure that your content editors have all of the information they need to make implementing Wizdom as easy as possible.
  • Multi geography support: With Microsoft recently announcing their upcoming support for mutli geo tenants, Wizdom are working hard to ensure that we will instantly be able to support this great new feature.
  • Cloud performance optimisation: Wizdom are constantly working to ensure that users are having lightening fast experiences when using their intranet.

Wizdom works both on premise and in the cloud – for more information, you can check our Intranet-in-a-box page.

Wizdom presents new features at Intra.NET Reloaded, London

Wizdom, leading provider of the highest rated intranet solution built on SharePoint and Office 365, partners with Intra.NET Reloaded, London, the leading event on Digital Workplace transformation in the United Kingdom, showing Wizdoms new features at the event taking place from November 27th to 28th.

Wizdom, who was recently named as Cool Vendor in the Digital Workplace by Gartner, is known for best in class enterprise intranet solutions built on SharePoint, Office 365 or SharePoint onprem. Comprising of over 50 amazing features Wizdom is designed to provide a complete platform for information sharing and collaboration based on the intranet as the core which enable companies to embrace digital workplace strategies.

At Intra.NET Reloaded, London, Wizdom will present its latest addition, the Wizdom Service Desk business application, which provides an intuitive ticketing system for internal operations. This enables employees to initiate and handle internal inquiries and concerns, such as office supply requests, IT issues, and all other employee queries from the intranet without the need to introduce another software platform.

Naturally, visitors will also get a demonstration of Wizdoms complete and feature rich intranet platform, an evergreen solution continuedly kept cutting-edge by Wizdoms own developers ensuring product updates and additions at frequencies not experienced elsewhere in the intranet software business.

Intra.NET Reloaded, London offers the opportunity to show the Wizdom solution as part of the Digital Workplace of the future.

We invite everyone to visit us and experience firsthand the industry merits our solution has earned and the extend of what Wizdom offers says John Wainer, CEO and Partner at Wizdom A/S. We are dedicated to providing the best intranet solution in the market based on input from our 300+ digital workplace implementations to date and the hard work of our own development team, and see Intra.NET Reloaded as a perfect venue to show this John Wainer ends.

Intra.NET Reloaded is the third of its kind in London aimed at bringing together communication, intranet and knowledge management experts in order to network, learn and discuss current trends and challenges in the industry.

The original article was published here.

We will be at the Intra.NET Reloaded London 2017

blogarticle_intranetreloadedconference

Wizdom together with Content Formula sponsor the Intra.NET Reloaded London 2017 conference.
Meet us at Wizdom’s booth and learn about Wizdom inranet in our live presentation at the conference.

The Intra.NET Reloaded Conference
Date and time: November 26 29, 2017
Place: London

Intra.NET Reloaded is a leading European event bringing together stakeholders playing an active role in the creation of tomorrows digital workplace.

Providing a deep business and technical understanding of intranets and collaboration platforms in the connected enterprise, the conference brings together 150+ decision makers from communication, business, and technology.

Read more about the conference and register here

Stay close to your users to deliver a great intranet

Weve consistently found that those intranet teams that stay close to users during an intranet project and after its launch produce the most successful intranets.

What do we mean by staying close? We mean teams who listen to feedback from users, involving them in decision-making, take time to understand pain points, and ultimately build relationships with their users.

This helps to result in intranets hat help employees in their daily work, keep users informed, deliver value for their organisations, improve specific processes and enjoy decent levels of adoption.

The value of staying close

The link between staying close to users and intranet success isnt hard to fathom. Staying close allows intranet teams to:

  • Carry out user research, gaining insights to deliver an intranet that meets needs
  • Test and validate design and development, getting feedback on what is being built to ensure its right
  • Help with change management, building up support and advocacy among the people who are going to be using the intranet the most

Lets look at each of these three scenarios in more detail.

Carrying out user research

One of the biggest mistakes teams make when implementing an intranet is to assume that they know what it should look like, what features it should include and how it should work. Basing the design and build on assumptions is a dangerous game. Intranets must be based on a thorough understanding of how employees work, how they interact with technology, the everyday problems that need to be solved and wider information needs.

Extensive user research is the answer: There are different methods to carry out research, including:

  • Workshops, either with a cross section of different employees or different sets of employees. This helps explore concepts, issues and get feedback. Often the interaction and discussion helps to tease out valuable insights.
  • Structed one on one interviews, which go deeper into how individuals work, but where you can also start to identify trends, if interviews are structured consistently with a similar set of questions.
  • Surveys, which give answers to a set of questions from a wider group of employees and then can be used to find comparable data after youve joined.
  • Desk research, analysing existing site metrics and other related analytics such as levels of email usage.
  • Getting quick opinions either by using online polls or even canvassing opinion in popular parts of the workplace, such as the canteen.
  • Personas are realistic characterisations of typical members of your key audience such as a frontline worker, or a manager, which provide information on what they do, their information needs and so on. Personas are more of an output from user research, but provide a highly valuable consistent reference point of audience needs when designing and building the intranet.

At Content Formula we always carry out user research as part of the project using some of the above techniques, depending on the scope and nature of the project. We also carry out research with senior stakeholders too as their perspective is critical too.

Carrying out research builds up trust with your users which continues after the intranet is launched and gives credibility to your intranet design and features.

Testing and validation

During any intranet project the intranet design and development will go through any number of iterations.  Involving users is the secret to ensuring each iteration is better than the last.   The type of involvement and testing can be in several different ways:

  • General user feedback on your intranet design and build-in progress is critical. This can happen at various stages but teams often ask for feedback when they have something new to show for example at a wireframe, prototype and initial build stage. In an agile development, user feedback may be focused on the specific features which have been developed within a sprint.
  • Usability testing involves carrying out testing to ensure your users can actually use your intranet. Users may be asked to complete certain tasks to see what works and it improvements need to be made.
  • Card-sorting and tree-testing: Most intranet projects will involve designing an information architecture which makes sense for uses. Card -sorting and tree-testing are types of testing which can help you define and then refine a user-centred navigation for your intranet.
  • Formal user acceptance testing. Finally, consider involving some of your users in a formal round of testing, using test scripts and so on.

Helping with change management

The use of intranets and related tools is usually not mandatory.  It takes an ongoing change management effort to drive adoption, embed new ways of working and introduce new features.

Staying close to your users can make a massive contribution to any change initiative.

We always advocate using a network of champions to help launch an intranet. These champions are usually involved on a voluntary basis, are energetic and enthusiastic and act as local champions and experts. They present the intranet to peers in the context of how it can be used for different locations, departments and roles.  Peer recommendation and local context really helps drive adoption.

Often champions are the very same users whove been involved in the research, design and testing phases of your intranet project. They not only help with the intranet launch but can also continue to provide feedback.

Increasingly intranets are being launched as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). An MVP approach not only gets your intranet up and running quicker but subsequent changes and enhancements are based on real usage and the subsequent feedback from employees. This means your intranet can continuously improve.

Often the relationships and communication channels you’ve built up with your champions and other users continue from the end of the formal project into the business as usual phase. Your core audience continues to influence your direction.

Keep close!

It pays to stay close to your users from the first day of your project to the day you launch. You need to stay close going forward too! Not only will this deliver an intranet which is based on needs and will work effectively, it will also allow you to build advocacy, trust and engagement with your users. And thats the best possible start for any intranet!

How intranets deliver key services and apps for employees

What does an intranet do?

Many employees will say it provides them with news. Others might say it helps them collaborate with colleagues. Some may pause and start to list out specific processes, such as allowing them to access manuals and forms or onboard new employees. Some employees may simply say the intranet lets them know whats on the staff restaurant menu!

One of the great things about intranets is that they can deliver a whole range of different key services and apps to employees, all in one place. A good intranet is extremely versatile and flexible. Yes, it helps deliver internal communications, but it also helps employees get things done. Early on we listened to our clients who wanted their intranet to be a platform for services and apps, so we built many powerful features and capabilities into the Wizdom solution. Now our clients tell us that they can deliver the services employees demand.

Why apps belong on the intranet

The benefit of having some key apps and services is on the intranet is that they:

  • are in one place and can be easily found and accessed by employees
  • can fill the gaps in capabilities provided by other systems
  • can reduce costs by replacing legacy systems
  • can improve processes by digitising services which were managed by email, spreadsheets or even paper
  • can help to reduce the mountain of email
  • are on a flexible platform where it is easy to add new services to meet emerging needs
  • can leverage the better usability and better interfaces of a good intranet.

Here are just some of the key services and apps a good intranet should deliver. Of course, these are all ones weve built into the Wizdom intranet!

Manage projects

Managing projects is a key activity across any organisation but many employees dont use solutions which could make the process easier and more efficient. Using the intranet for project management has many benefits as all employees can use the relevant tools.

A good intranet should provide secure spaces for each project where teams can access documents, view tasks, co-ordinate calendars, record time, check milestones and see contact information. It also is a place to streamline team communication and collaboration.

An intranet-based project workspace means everybody is on the same page, can stay in touch and be focused on the project and related tasks.

Access collections of official documents

At times employees will need to access all the latest versions of official organisational documents such as the employee handbook or procedures for managing clients.

Everybody needs to be confident that they are accessing all the very latest versions. An intranet should have a clear, tightly-controlled central collection of key documents, where the latest versions are clearly displayed.

This collection saves time as employees know where to find what they need and reduces risk because they are not referencing out-of-date policies.

Complete forms and requests

Employees have to make many requests which may need approval from managers from requesting annual leave to a new laptop to booking catering for a meeting. Sometimes this is done by email or even completing a paper form!

A good intranet allows employees to complete these forms online and provides workflow to allow the necessary approvals. The intranet should also allow flexibility to create forms to cover a wide variety of scenarios.

Onboard new employees

It can be overwhelming for employees joining a new organisation. There is a huge amount of information to take in all at once, as well as an endless list of forms to fill in and people to meet!

A strong intranet makes the whole onboarding experience much easier for new joiners and more efficient for organisations. A special onboarding site can link to much of the information new employees need to digest, including checklists of tasks to complete.

They can find information about the people they need to see and complete important forms. Everyone benefits, as a positive onboarding programme has been shown to reduce employee turnover.

Locate experts and assemble teams

How often have you struggled to find the right person to either ask a question or to be part of a team youre assembling for a new client project?

Looking for an expert in a particular niche can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Its time-consuming and can also be fruitless. A good intranet makes this task much easier. Searchable employee profiles with details of individual expertise can help you locate the person at the right time.

Social networking capabilities allow you to post a question to the network. Expertise location and assembling project teams can now be a breeze!

Manage the IT help desk

Managing an IT help desk usually needs specialist software where employees can submit requests, get a ticket number and view progress of their issue. Doing this via the intranet is very helpful as it can be presented alongside FAQs, content and even a support community.

Were not quite there yet, but well be unveiling this very useful application later in 2017!

View the weekly menu

We know this is an intranet favorite, so weve even built a stylish way to present the staff restaurant menu!

The intranet is the perfect home for apps

The intranet is the central channel within the digital workplace, and the perfect home for key apps and services which can be used by all employees.

These make daily work for employees just that little easier as well as deliver efficiencies and cost savings for organisations. If youre choosing a new intranet solution, or just improving the one youve already got, its worth investigating whether you can consolidate apps and services on to the intranet.

This will help you on your journey towards the digital workplace and a modern, flexible work platform that organisations and employees love!

If you want to learn more about our many features, request our feature catalogue right here!

The original article was published here.

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