Driving adoption of the intranet and related digital workplace tools is usually a preoccupation for the teams that manage them. Often the focus of “adoption” is to drive the number of employees visiting, engaging with and contributing to your intranet. While the numbers are important, adoption also needs to cover the ways your intranet adds value and drives success. It is better to have a smaller number of employees contributing to your intranet in a way which makes a real difference to improving a process, than a larger number contributing who add little value.
Tactics for adoption success
But how do intranet and Office 365 teams drive adoption? Unfortunately, there is no one magic ingredient or secret sauce which will guarantee your employees will use your digital channels in the way you want them to. Instead, a range of different tactics need to be deployed, and keep on being deployed. Driving adoption tends to be a gradual and ongoing effort.
We last looked at driving the adoption of SharePoint back in 2015. The tactics listed in that post including carrying out training, user research, stakeholder mapping and not turning on every feature are still relevant to intranets, collaboration platforms, Office 365 and other parts of the digital workplace.
There are several other tactics which we’ve seen our clients and other teams deploy to help drive adoption. Here are some of the most important.
Run a champions network
A consistently successful approach for driving intranet or digital workplace adoption is to use a network of voluntary champions who can help support users and be advocates for the intranet throughout your organisation. Often a recommendation from a trusted peer and the benefits explained within a frame of reference for specific teams, roles and locations can be a powerful driver of adoption. For small central teams wanting to stay close to their users, leveraging the enthusiasm an energy of local champions really does reap dividends.
Ensure there is ongoing visible involvement from senior management
While bottom-up communication is important, so is top-down support. It always pays to have senior management support for your intranet as this endorsement shows the intranet is a management priority. What’s even better is having ongoing visible involvement from senior leaders by featuring in news, appearing in videos, creating blogs, commenting on items and in discussions and responding to feedback. This particularly encourages behaviour from other managers to follow suit and use the intranet for communication and collaboration, and that in turn encourages other employees to contribute. It’s another way to continue to drive adoption.
Integrate other tools
Intranets help employees get things done and can be an essential front door to the wider portfolios of applications in use in the “digital workplace”. Many intranets are now powered by Office 365 and by integrating tools such as Skype for Business, Yammer or Teams directly into the intranet experience they can help to drive adoption of the intranet and the related tools. It’s far easier for employees to have just one place to go, where they’ll want to return.
Establish mobile access for employees not in the office
Many intranets now have great mobile access out of the box. For example, the Wizdom intranet renders perfectly onto mobile devices. Mobile is a great way for staff not based in offices and who don’t have easy access to a desktop to view your intranet. With the right BYOD and security policies in place it’s also possible for employees to access the intranet on their own personal device. For example, in retail or manufacturing companies this can help extend the intranet or digital workplace to all employees.
Launch with a splash
How you launch your intranet will depend on the culture of your organisation. Intranet-branded cupcakes on every desk, flash-mob dancing or even branded lifts are just some of the tactics intranet teams have deployed to create some buzz around the intranet. Many organisations go for a more straightforward approach and have a welcome video from the CEO. Whatever method you choose to launch your intranet it pays to make some noise and launch with a splash. It’s a natural time to drive some curiosity among employees, get interest from senior stakeholders and can help carry some momentum for ongoing adoption efforts.
Promote as part of the onboarding process
Most companies have a process for onboarding new employees with checklists to complete, training to undertake and perhaps even a formal induction day. Involving the intranet in the onboarding process is a great way to not only help new employees have a smooth welcome but also to show them the value of the intranet from the moment they join. This can either involve a light introduction to the intranet or them utilising it in the onboarding process itself. An early positive experience with the intranet should help drive adoption, particularly in companies where there is high employee turnover.
Formalise community management
Community management is essential for a successful social intranet or collaboration platform. Community managers provide support, training, moderation, group development, content and more for individuals communities and sites. They drive adoption on the ground. It really helps to formalise community management within your organisation through clear descriptions of roles and associated skills, training and even a formal certification programme.
Gather user feedback (and then act on it)
What do users think of your intranet? Too often teams only find this out when they are planning for a new platform. Having an ongoing programme of user feedback is a good way to get insights into improvements you can make which should drive more usage. It also helps to drive trust with users. Some teams do carry out an annual user survey, but it also helps to have ongoing feedback too, with a form for users to provide comments via the intranet itself. You can also use polls, a discussion group or a regular user group meeting to gather observations and opinions as you go. It’s also imperative to act on the feedback, otherwise you can create a negative impression.
Continual improvement is as much of a mindset as it is about putting it into practice. If an intranet team is committed to continually improving their intranet this should be noticed by your users and in turn this should drive adoption. There are many ways to continually improve but often it is about having a steady schedule of improvements, new features and content areas throughout the year. It’s also about using analytics to identify where things need fixing and what works well, and taking the necessary actions. It’s also about taking on board user feedback and being willing to experiment.
Use imagery in your intranet
A very text heavy intranet can be unappealing for users and that can impact adoption. Using imagery can help lift an intranet, make it more user-friendly and attractive, and that makes visitors want to return. This is an area where you can experiment to see what works – but beware of adding cheesy stock imagery to your intranet – that can even backfire!
The battle for adoption never stops
Driving adoption is an ongoing effort. There’s no real rest for intranet teams – although it’s good to be busy! Taking a holistic approach to driving adoption is best which covers everything from using champions to engaging senior leaders to adding new features to providing a great user experience. Combining a great intranet with change management efforts and a continual improvement ethic is the ticket to success.