We will be at the Intra.NET Reloaded London 2017

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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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