Microsoft Viva – the employee experience platform launched by Microsoft in 2021 – has been receiving huge levels of interest from intranet, digital workplace and internal comms teams since its release. As adoption continues to rise, we decided to hold a webinar about placing Microsoft Viva at the centre of your digital workplace to deliver a more seamless digital employee experience.
In the session, which you can watch in full below, Content Formula’s Alex Yeomans, John Scott and Joe Perry explored issues including:
What Microsoft Viva does
The ins and outs of the Viva apps
How to use Viva Connections to integrate with other systems
What else you should consider when implementing Viva.
In this post, we’re going to explore some of the key takeaways from what proved to be a highly valuable deep dive into Microsoft Viva.
What is Microsoft Viva?
Microsoft Viva is a collection of apps that are generally viewed through Microsoft Teams, although some features of Viva Connections can be embedded as web parts into SharePoint. The apps focus on four different areas of employee experience:
Viva Connections: A gateway to internal communications and company resources
Viva Insights: Personalised analytics and related insights for individuals, managers and leaders that support well-being, collaboration, productivity and more
Viva Learning: A learning hub that aggregates learning resources from a variety of different systems and sources
Viva Topics: A knowledge discovery platform that uses AI to source resources and experts on different topics.
Here, we share some of the insights from the webinar.
1 Most people are in the early stages of their Viva journey
At the beginning of the webinar, the panel emphasised that Microsoft Viva is very new. Unsurprisingly, a quick poll of the participants revealed that most people are at a very early stage of their Viva journey, either experimenting or still investigating how it can be used. Even though Viva has been around for over a year, it is still evolving, and has only evolved to deliver value relatively recently as more integrations have emerged. The team expects this to accelerate as more and more organisations adopt Microsoft Viva this year and in future, and as Microsoft continues to invest in the platform.
2 Viva Learning helps to deliver learning in the flow of work… but it’s not an LMS
All too often, learning content is hidden away in different systems and repositories, such as a Learning Management System (LMS), a SharePoint library or a third-party solution. This means valuable content is often missed, and learning systems are poorly adopted. Viva Learning helps remedy this by delivering a discovery platform for learning content, surfacing resources from multiple places including your LMS, SharePoint and more right into Microsoft Teams, where people often spend their working day.
The solution leverages AI to recommend relevant course content to users based on the Office Graph, and managers can assign learning and colleagues recommend courses while a personalised dashboard facilitates easier access. Learning content also appears in Microsoft Search.
It is worth noting that Viva Learning is not an LMS; there isn’t any core functionality that you might find in a system like LMS365 such as e-learning, certification, employee attestation, learning journeys and sophisticated reporting. Organisations will need to have an LMS like LMS365 and subscriptions with learning providers to get the best out of the app, with Viva Learning principally acting as an aggregator.
3 Viva Topics is supporting knowledge management
Viva Topics is another app which helps to support knowledge management, using AI to bring together wiki-like pages on different topics and surfacing relevant resources, including SharePoint files and lists of recognised experts. For example, Content Formula is working with a house-building firm on implementing Viva Topics, and they have a topic page dedicated to loft installations, with a list of valuable AI-driven resources that can also be curated by a subject matter expert approving the AI suggestions. New relevant topic pages are suggested by AI, but can also be created manually to cover things like clients, projects, services and places.
Viva Topics pages are represented by cards that can be referenced in a Teams discussion and also appear in search.
4 Viva Insights delivers personal analytics and insights while acting like a virtual assistant
Viva Insights provides a personal dashboard of analytics about work habits, shining a light on wellbeing, productivity and collaboration. These are derived from Microsoft Graph and your interactions with Office 365, revealing things such as your overall working hours, time spent in meetings, focus time and more.
Viva Insights also uses AI to monitor your interactions across Teams, Yammer and Outlook and make suggestions about the need to follow up on meetings and emails, for example. This is already delivered in the Viva-branded emails that most of us receive, and is like a “virtual assistant” nudging you to follow up on actions. If you pay for an upgrade, managers can see analytics and insights based on their team’s actions, such as their overall time spent in meetings.
5 Viva Connections brings your intranet into Teams
Microsoft 365 is a complex and broad platform that contains multiple tools and channels. Viva Connections is a connector that consolidates content and information from some of these sources and displays them in Teams, although it can also be surfaced in SharePoint.
One way Viva Connections is commonly used is as a way to effectively view your SharePoint intranet through Teams, meaning users don’t have to leave the Teams environment to see intranet communications and content. In the webinar, we saw an example of how Entain’s intranet is viewed through Viva Connections; in organisations where Teams has high usage, this is a great way to facilitate easier intranet access.
6 The Viva Connections dashboard helps users complete tasks across the digital workplace
One of the most valuable features in the entire Viva platform is the Viva Connections Dashboard. This helps you create a dashboard of personalised cards from other Microsoft tools, non-Microsoft apps and third-party websites to provide information, updates and nudges which help users complete tasks and keep on top of their work. It can be viewed through Microsoft Teams or within a SharePoint page – usually the intranet homepage or equivalent. This can help make Connections and your intranet not just a communications hub, but a comprehensive digital workplace tool too.
In the webinar, there was a demo of the dashboard that showed the kind of information it can display, including:
How much annual leave remains
The current valuation of a pension
Live data from share prices
The travel status of buses or trains
A map of how to get somewhere
A view of upcoming meetings
A display of praise received through Yammer.
The dashboard can also provide access to tasks including check-ins for office visits and manager approvals for travel expenses.
Joe explained that each card is personalised, and can be targeted to different groups. One of the great things about the dashboard is that it leverages a low-code, no-code approach, making it easy for administrators to create and preview new cards. They can also utilise out-of-the-box integrations with enterprise systems like Workday and ServiceNow to deliver cards for high-value use cases like requesting time off or raising helpdesk tickets.
7 There are several elements to consider when deploying Microsoft Viva Connections
Finally, the team ran through some of the key factors that digital workplace teams need to consider before deploying Viva Connections:
A SharePoint home site and SharePoint global navigation are required to launch Viva Connections
Third-party integrations add value, and Microsoft has more coming soon
Multi-lingual dashboards have been released – attractive for larger, global organisations
If you’re launching Viva Connections, you can now add a custom name and logo in the navigation to align with your intranet branding
Viva Connections is free, but the full functionality of the other apps comes at an additional cost.
Want to know more about Microsoft Viva? Get in touch!
We’re working with several clients on Viva-related projects. If you’re considering deploying Microsoft Viva and have any questions, then get in touch!
Adoption and change management (ACM) is an essential activity in ensuring that your Office 365 implementation is successful and delivers the enterprise-wide benefits and ROI expected by your senior stakeholders. Office 365 opens many opportunities to raise productivity, drive innovation and transform collaboration, but this often requires users to learn how and when to use new tools, adopt new behaviours and gain confidence across the digital workplace.
Successfully changing user behaviour is never a given and is rarely mandated; employees are also usually very busy, frequently overworked, and already bombarded with messaging relating to other change initiatives. Digital workplace teams need to work hard to gain the attention of employees, win over hearts and minds, and continually reiterate messaging to truly embed behaviours.
Here at Content Formula, we’ve implemented hundreds of Office 365 / Microsoft 365 projects, often supporting the ACM work stream with launch, support and training activities. In this post we’re going to explore seven tactics that we’ve seen often work.
1 Involve and train your champions
In our recent post about how to drive Office 365 adoption and change management, one of our eight essential elements was “top-down and bottom-up communications”. While you must show a tool has the support of senior leaders, bottom-up messaging from peers also helps to drive adoption. Involving a network of local champions and ambassadors who can frame their messages using scenarios, use cases and terminology that makes sense to different locations, functions and teams, will make change communications far more relevant across a diverse workforce.
Hearing a recommendation from a peer also can also give s a message more authenticity, while champions can also provide some local support by answering questions and even performing some training. We’ve seen many times how a a network of enthusiastic champions makes a real difference in an Office 365 roll-out and helps small central digital workplace teams achieve more.
Successful champions tend to be recruited on a voluntary basis rather than being “conscripted”, and central teams are often surprised about how enthusiastic and energetic they can be. Training and engaging them through formal and top-up virtual sessions, assets such as slide decks, maintaining a support community, and recognising the contribution of individuals, are all tactics that can help.
2 Focus on real use cases rather than concepts
All too often Office 365 change management campaigns centre on higher level concepts such as “increasing collaboration” and “working smarter” and “increasing our productivity”. These messages are all benefits of the platform, but they need to be communicated in conjunction with specific use cases that resonate with employees and illustrate the tangible benefits of the 365 platform. In this way, users can more easily see “what’s in it for me” and how Microsoft 365 and its tools will impact everyday working practices.
For example, your new digital workplace might help users to see all their notifications in one place, find the contact details of a colleague, ask a question to an expert, see the latest news, support a professional community, make it easier to manage a project, or use a whiteboard in a virtual meeting. All these are real world use cases that illustrate the benefits of a platform and support adoption efforts.
3 Creating engaging campaign assets
Creating engaging campaign assets to increase awareness of the launch of Office 365 or some of its constituent tools such as a SharePoint intranet or Yammer can support adoption and change management efforts. Eye-catching images, imaginative concepts, relevant and relatable messaging and consistent themes across multiple formats can all help to drive curiosity, spread information and even create a “buzz”.
There are a number of different types of assets that can be created, including:
Page tours that walk users through new features on first logging into a site, for example an intranet
Promotional banners that can appear across your digital channels
A training centre with self-serve resources – see below for more details
“How to” videos that are instructional, but also might explain the “why” and the related benefits of a tool
Tailored training to special groups including digital champions, content publishers or managers
Lock screen graphics to reiterate messaging across the office
Even a Q&A chatbot that can answer questions about Microsoft 365 or tools within it.
We’ve produced all of the above for different clients, and each has proved to be successful. We can help produce these for you as part of our new Office 365 ACM service.
4 Plan out your reinforcement activities
When we support our clients with Office 365 ACM we follow the ADKAR framework – a leading change management model based around five stages (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement). This last “reinforcement” stage is very important as it truly embeds changes in user behaviour for the longer term; without it, any initially promising adoption levels from your first launch efforts can start to wither.
From the outset, always plan some reinforcement activities that follow your initial launch period to remind users of your core messaging on an ongoing basis, building on your earlier efforts. These activities could include:
recognising adoption efforts such as highlighting teams who have used the platform successfully
leading engagement-led activities that encourage people to use tools such as a mini-campaign to get people to complete their profile
providing ongoing support, for example through an online Yammer community.
5 Plan self-serve resources
Self-serve resources can support adoption for users, as well as special groups like content owners and publishers, by providing information on how to use Office 365 tools, which tools to use for what purpose, and the benefits of each. Creating a self-service SharePoint site or intranet site aimed at your users, with an additional site for your content publishers, can prove to be a valuable resource that IT support helpdesks and digital workplace teams can point people towards. These resources are not only useful in your initial launch, but also an ongoing basis.
For example, when we helped Entain Group launch their Entain.Me digital workplace, we created a site for content publishers called “Entain.Me Guru” with how to guides, help videos, recordings of publisher training sessions and an embedded Yammer feed from a publisher support community. The site was created in the run up to launch but has remained live as an ongoing reference point.
6 Use Office 365 to drive usage of Office 365
The Office 365 platform itself can actually support some of your Office 365 ACM activities. For example, Yammer groups make excellent user or community support groups, while a SharePoint site is the obvious choice for a learning or knowledge-focused resources site. Taking an “eat your own dog food approach” and using the very tools that you are trying to promote to drive your ACM efforts sends the right message to both users and stakeholders, and can even get employees used to using the relevant tools.
7 Ring fence your ACM budget
As a rule, adoption and change management activities relating to Office 365 are sometimes not adequately budgeted for. The extent of ACM effort needed tends to be either underestimated or does not extend for a long enough period. Another danger is that there are other unexpected costs aspects of the project that emerge which were not budgeted for; these then end up eating into the ACM budget, which tends to be regarded as expendable, compared to other workstreams within your project. If you do have an ACM budget, ring fence it to ensure that it doesn’t get spent on other project aspects and that the spend is dedicated to critical ACM activities.
Need help with your Office 365 change and adoption? Get in touch!
We know how important adoption and change management is to the success of Office 365; this is why we’ve created a new Office 365 ACM service that assists with everything from planning your strategy to creating engaging campaign assets to providing ongoing support. If you’d like to discuss this or any aspect of growing your Office 365 adoption, then get in touch!
Microsoft Viva is a brand-new employee experience platform from Microsoft that is piquing a lot of interest across HR functions, IT departments and Internal Communications teams. There are currently four apps within the Viva universe, all of which are delivered through Microsoft Teams:
Viva Insights: Personalised analytics and related insights for individuals, managers and leaders that support wellbeing, collaboration, productivity and more.
Viva Topics: A knowledge discovery platform that uses AI to source experts and resources on different topics concerning Microsoft 365 tools and other digital channels.
Viva Learning: A learning hub that aggregates learning resources from a variety of different sources including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, popular third-party providers and a company’s own learning content.
Viva Connections: A gateway to internal communications and company resources including policies and HR information, as well as the ability to participate in different social communities.
In particular, Viva Connections is proving to be of interest to internal communications teams as it provides another way to access communication-led content. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at Viva Connections and try to answer a question that we’ve heard asked a few times: Will Microsoft Viva Connections replace my SharePoint intranet?
What exactly is Viva Connections?
Viva Connections was originally announced at Ignite 2020 as the Home Site App – a way to access and navigate resources and sites from across your organisation within Microsoft Teams. It was subsequently relaunched as Viva Connections in a move that contributed to the observation that Microsoft Viva is to some extent a rebranding exercise for initiatives that are already in-flight.
It’s still pretty early days for Microsoft Viva and there are a lot of developments to come, but at the moment Viva Connections is essentially designed to be a kind of intranet experience within the Teams environment. This is an explicit aim of the app expressed by Microsoft in a video called Living in Microsoft Teams? Now, so does your intranet!, and follows a general trend to make other applications and channels accessible from within Teams, making it a convenient entry point to the wider digital workplace.
Other intranet software providers have worked separately on apps to make their intranet accessible within Teams, including LiveTiles. For example, we recently ensured a fantastic new LiveTiles intranet for Entain was also available from within Teams.
Sam Marshall at ClearBox has done an excellent overview of Viva Connections and points out the main features of the app, including a global navigation menu that can be accessed from within the app, a main landing or home page which is a linked SharePoint home site, and a search facility that allows for the a wider search into SharePoint content. A new dashboard and mobile app are also in the pipeline, due for release later in the year.
Will Viva Connections replace my SharePoint intranet?
Some executives have expressed the hope that Viva Connections, and the Viva Suite as a whole, will provide an opportunity to replace existing services and applications with new apps that are covered by the Microsoft 365 license. This might lead to both a reduction in licensing costs and an extension in the value of a company’s investment in the Microsoft 365-driven digital workplace. This world view is particularly attractive for IT stakeholders who may be under pressure to streamline resources, and wish to make the most out of Microsoft 365 in doing so.
These stakeholders are going to be disappointed – Viva Connections does not replace your SharePoint intranet. However, it does offer some interesting options for digital workplace and internal communications teams, particularly for smaller organisations where disparate SharePoint communication sites have taken over an existing intranet as the main vehicle for employee communications.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why Viva Connections is currently not a replacement for your SharePoint intranet.
1 Viva Connections is not plug and play
One misconception about Viva Connections and other Microsoft Viva apps is that they are plug and play. The idea is a seductive one – somehow you would be able to switch everything on and you’d have an intranet that works instantly and continues to work through automation, saving you time, resources and licensing fees. This is often the thinking behind the question of replacing a SharePoint intranet, considering the potential reduction in costs and effort.
Whilst you’ll certainly be able to leverage the power of Microsoft Graph with Viva Connections, you will actually need to do considerable preparation work and ongoing management to get any value out of Viva Connections. This is not plug and play: you need foundational work, ownership, governance and continual effort, just as you would if you were managing an intranet.
2 It’s still early days
Viva Connections is still relatively new, and we can expect there to be improvements and tweaks. In fact, some core components the mobile app and dashboard are still being rolled out. One of the things we love about working with the Microsoft 365 platform is the continuing investment that Microsoft put into every tool; this means the Viva Connection app of today may be quite different in a year’s time, with potential for additional capabilities.
We are always a little wary of diving into a new technology and replacing what has gone before when it has only recently been released. Even if Viva Connections does evolve to a point where it becomes the primary way for employees to access communications, replacing your existing SharePoint intranet with Viva Connections at this early stage is not something we would advise.
3 Viva Connections is accessed through Teams
The desktop experience for Viva Connections is accessed through Teams. Although Teams usage has exploded in many organisations, particularly during the pandemic, there are still some organisations where Teams usage is still growing or patchy across the entire workforce. In some places, it hasnt even been rolled out.
At the moment, replacing an intranet with Viva Connections is only going to be an option within organisations where Teams is the centre of the digital workplace and employees are already in Teams all day, yet there are still not that many organisations who have reached that kind of status. Moreover, in our view, the digital workplace needs to be accessed through multiple front doors, including both Teams and the intranet, so switching off a browser-based intranet may well be a retrograde step.
4 Viva Connections does not cover all an intranet does
Intranets, and in particular SharePoint intranets, provide a multi-faceted platform for internal communication, content publishing, dialogue, engagement, collaboration, transactions, HR self-service, search and findability, learning, access to digital workplace tools, communities of practice, knowledge management and more. Why are intranets still a staple of the workplace technology environments provided by organisations after 25 years? Because they are versatile, flexible, convenient and essential for both everyday working and deeper digital transformation. We’re excited about what Viva Connections can do, but it simply cannot compete with the wide number of use cases in which an intranet provides value.
If you’re in a position where it looks like Viva Connections will bring more value than your current SharePoint intranet, the key issue is not to do with Viva Connections it’s more likely that you are missing out on all the benefits a modern SharePoint intranet could bring you.
5 Internal communications don’t have enough control over comms
Viva Connections is set up in a way that assumes a less hierarchical, top-down view of news throughout your organisation, typically characterised by a group of communication sites and related hub sites with more distributed ownership. While it does attempt to aggregate news in a way that is more controlled, it lacks the kind of publishing features and central news formats that internal communications teams want to achieve with an intranet.
This is where an intranet product like LiveTiles is also superior to using SharePoint straight out of the box for an intranet. Viva Connections simply does not deliver on the expectations of internal communicators compared to a SharePoint intranet.
6 The set-up for Viva Connections means you’re creating an intranet anyway
When you create the set-up for Viva Connections, you’re effectively setting up an intranet anyway, with a SharePoint home site and global navigation you need to consider. When you begin to design a homepage experience and consider a global information architecture, you are starting to define an intranet, and when you then create the governance to make that work, you’re going even further down the intranet road. If you want to make Viva Connections work, you may also want to define a SharePoint intranet that works.
Where could Viva Connections add value?
While we don’t see Viva Connections as a replacement for a SharePoint intranet, we think it has great potential. We can see its utilisation as a way to:
Integrate some of your existing SharePoint intranet content into Teams, particularly in companies with high Teams usage
Act as a catalyst to create or invigorate a SharePoint Online intranet where most communication is currently dispersed across multiple Communication sites
Experiment and innovate to keep your digital workplace evolving, for example, using the mobile app and dashboard feature with frontline employees.
Need advice on Viva Connections? Get in touch!
It’s still quite early days for Viva Connections, but it’s definitely one to watch and experiment with. While it’s not a replacement for your SharePoint intranet, we think it will bring value. If you’d like to discuss using Viva Connections or your SharePoint intranet, then get in touch!
Investing in a new intranet, or an upgrade in an existing intranet, is something every organisation needs to do from time to time. But if you’ve never been involved in creating or delivering a new intranet, it can be difficult to know where to start. How to get a new intranet project off the ground is an area we get asked about from time to time, and it is important to ask the right questions and follow the right steps before you dive into a new intranet project.
In this article, we’re going to explore what you need to consider if you are looking to implement a new intranet, and some of the steps you need to take.
The key questions you need to consider and the conversations you need to have before you begin the formal steps in setting up an intranet project.
The five major steps you need to take to set up your project.
Note that there are no hard and fast rules here, and the way things pan out might actually be quite different; the process of implementing a new intranet is not necessarily linear. However, this article will lay out the kind of areas to think about, as well as the typical steps that we have seen taken across hundreds of intranet projects over the past two decades.
Why intranets need replacing
Before we explore the questions to consider, it’s worth looking at some of the reasons why you might need a new intranet.
Like any technology, intranet software can become end-of-life or need an upgrade. The average lifespan of an intranet can vary from around three to seven years, with a project to launch a new iteration eventually required. However, some intranets can last for over a decade, although this is usually only viable if they receive continual investment. Many intranets need replacing because the value the software delivers depreciates over time, and a new iteration should be expected as a natural consequence of this product lifecycle.
Inevitably, employee, organisational and communications needs will also evolve and change, and sometimes an existing intranet can no longer effectively support those needs. Here, the need to create a new intranet can be very obvious, as employees and stakeholders line up with multiple complaints about finding information or the inability to issue communications. Sometimes, the need for a new intranet is also triggered by a major organisational event such as a merger.
Many organisations are moving to the cloud and investing in Microsoft 365. This change can trigger a desire to implement a new intranet, where a team wants to take full advantage of their investment in the digital workplace with a new SharePoint intranet at the centre.
Very occasionally, there are clients who have never actually had a proper intranet. These may be smaller companies who have never felt the need to implement one, but have now grown rapidly and need to take a more structured approach to information and communications. Quite often there may be a platform that has acted as a kind of quasi-intranet and provided a place for communications and content, albeit delivered in a non-optimal way. Sometimes, there may be a plethora of local solutions which are not optimal.
Five questions to consider
Whatever the reason, you will eventually need a new intranet. If youre in that boat right now, there are some initial questions to consider which can help you initiate the right conversations with the right people to set the ball rolling when setting up a formal project.
1 Do we know what a modern intranet can do?
The word intranet doesn’t normally provoke a wave of excitement (unless you’re an intranet nerd like us), and can even illicit groans. Many people have had bad experiences in their previous organisations where the intranet has been a dreary, static website with out-of-date content where it’s impossible to find anything.
Actually, modern intranets are vibrant, people-centred platforms which help people get their work done, and which fit seamlessly into the wider digital workplace ecosystem. They are a strategic investment which make a real difference, as we have seen during the pandemic, and have a wide range of features. It’s important to get some idea of what a modern intranet can do during conversations so that stakeholders don’t hold negative preconceptions about what an intranet looks like and what it can deliver.
Doing some desk research is a good start in getting an understanding of the intranet market and some of the choices available. There is a lot of information out there on the web about planning an intranet, but it also helps to speak to other companies about what they’ve implemented. There are various networking groups and conferences around, as well as awards and publications with detailed case studies. We’re also happy to talk about intranet options and what a modern intranet looks like feel free to get in touch!
2 What problems is our intranet trying to solve?
To start the right conversations about your intranet and consider its scope, you need to know the why. What problems is your intranet trying to solve? These can be multiple to drive engagement, to enable effective communications, to drive adoption of Microsoft 365 tools, to promote a one company culture, to provide content to help contact centre staff serve customers, to enable frontline communications and many more.
Later, when you carry out user research (see below), this question will be answered in far more detail, but it’s good to have an idea of the general areas you want your intranet to deliver from the get-go.
3 Who is going to own the intranet?
Intranet ownership is a question that people tend to defer until later on, but it actually pays to work this out before you undergo the project, as it will determine the nature and scope of the intranet, as well as the project team involved in the build. The most typical configuration we see is for Internal Communications to own the intranet content, design and strategy, and for IT to own the technology, but other functions owning the intranet can include the digital team, a Knowledge Management function, HR or business operations.
Ownership also implies some responsibility. If a senior stakeholder doesn’t want to take on the responsibility of an intranet, then it is unlikely to be wholly successful. They need to be prepared to pay for some kind of resource to manage the intranet on a day-to-day basis and provide stewardship.
In considering ownership, you may find some stakeholders start to worry about costs, particularly in smaller companies. Ultimately, a good intranet will save you money by increasing efficiency and improving processes. Smaller organisations are unlikely to need a full-time intranet manager, especially if some attention is given to getting the processes, rules and roles associated with the intranet spot-on from the outset.
4 Which stakeholders should be involved?
All great intranet projects have cross-functional support, involvement and alignment to ensure the intranet delivers maximum value. If you’re starting out on a new intranet, it really helps to involve your major stakeholders right from the beginning to understand their needs, views, agendas and roadmap. When you have cross-functional buy-in from day one, you’re setting up good foundations.
Involve your major stakeholders in any initial intranet discussions: IT, Communications, HR, Knowledge Management, major lines of business and your leadership function certainly need to be in the loop. Two other essential stakeholders that are frequently missed out are Legal, Risk & Compliance, and your Facilities / Real Estate team. The former is crucial to ensure you navigate any potential risks, especially if you are in a regulated industry, while the latter is important, particularly in a new era of hybrid working, to make sure your intranet is aligned to how people are going to be working across different locations. At this stage, it will also help to speak to your users and get a sense of what’s important to them, even before you undergo a more formal user research exercise.
5 What kind of intranet or intranet project are you looking for?
It helps to have an idea of the type of intranet that you are looking for, as this will set the expectations across your stakeholders and determine the path to your new intranet.
A related question here is do we actually need a new intranet?, because it’s perfectly possible that the requirement you’re trying to satisfy might not be fulfilled by a new intranet. Perhaps you need an employee communications app to engage your frontline staff, a service portal to ease pressure on your helpdesk or a collaboration and social platform. It’s also possible that you need an intranet refresh or upgrade rather than an entirely new platform, although the extent of that refresh might effectively comprise a new intranet. Your issue might actually be content-related, and could be more to do with an overhaul of your content or your information architecture.
A key decision will be whether you implement an off-the-shelf intranet solution or a more custom-made solution do you buy or build? In the past, this would have been a key decision, but most teams now opt for an off-the-shelf (also known as an in-a-box) solution that delivers a ready-made intranet which has pre-installed templates, designs and features you will need to deliver an enterprise intranet. For example, we implement the market-leading solution from LiveTiles. It’s easy and speedy to implement, and can meet most organisational needs, although in some cases you may require some further limited customisation.
If you’re on a Microsoft 365 path, a key decision will be whether you implement a SharePoint Online intranet. In our view, the answer to this question will almost certainly be yes, as it will allow you to leverage the power of all the other M365 tools such as Yammer and integrate them into your intranet experience. You’ll also be able to access intranet content from Microsoft Teams. If you are likely to be implementing a SharePoint intranet, a further decision is whether you choose to deliver an out-of-the-box SharePoint intranet, rather than using intranet software.
While we would never advocate making a final technology decision before working out your requirements, it is worth thinking that this is the most likely path, as it will help to illustrate the possibilities of a modern intranet that is fully integrated into the core of your digital workplace.
Five steps to start your intranet project
Once you’ve had the right conversations and there is a broad agreement that an intranet project should go ahead, it’s time to take some more formal steps.
Undertake formal user research
The best intranets are based on a thorough understanding of employee needs and how they work from day to day. What are the pain points? What are the business problems you’re trying to solve? What are employees real world experiences of current technology?
By answering these questions, you can ensure the intranet contains the right features and is designed around how employees actually work, not how you think they do.
Undertaking user research needs to be a formal, structured process which incorporates surveys, interviews, workshops, observation and examining various metrics; it’s different to the more informal conversations you may have had before. You might need to get external help when we implement an intranet for a client we include workshops, interviews and other studies as part of our methodology.
Construct a strategy and business case
Eventually, you’ll need to conglomerate your research and findings into a more formal strategy and potential business case. These may well build upon earlier conversations you’ve had with different stakeholders, and you may also already have some requirements that have emerged from your research.
Many intranet teams make the mistake of rushing into an intranet project without formalising the strategy. Clearly articulating the business benefits of a new intranet and the priority areas are crucial in selling your intranet inside and getting buy-in, making a formal business case, helping external parties in an RFP process and then shaping the requirements and implementation plan.
Talk to intranet vendors and experts
Agencies like Content Formula who understand intranets can help you at all stages of your intranet journey. For example, when we implement a project, we conduct user research, formulate your strategy and even facilitate an exploratory discussion about the value an intranet could deliver for you. We also often talk more informally to prospective clients.
The critical point to remember is that you should always talk to somebody who understands intranets and the process of implementing one. There are some excellent general digital agencies out there, but they may not necessarily have intranet experience or knowledge. Building an effective intranet is very different from building an external-facing website; intranets have multiple uses, and the needs of an internal audience are very different to those outside
Speak to an agency which has a proven record of working with intranets and clearly understands the channel. They will help you in the earlier stages, and can then potentially be on your shortlist of implementation partners when you run a more formal RFP process.
Select a product and partner
At some stage, you’ll need to select a product and an implementation partner; usually, you’ll have a standard approach to doing this in your organisation. Whether you’re running a formal RFP process or something less intensive, take a structured approach to ensure you’re involving the right product and partner. An intranet is a strategic investment, so getting the right tech and people involved is essential.
Implement a project
Congratulations on getting to this stage! Sometimes it can feel like an age from the early conversations to getting underway with the formal implementation, although we’ve known this to happen within a matter of weeks!
Usually, the formal project is the most straightforward part of your intranet journey, and you’ll easily progress through steps such as appointing the team, setting the timeline and establishing the costs. Generally, intranet projects are much faster-paced than they used to be. Your implementation partner or software vendor should have a set methodology and be able to help you with the actual implementation, including conducting further user research. At this stage, you’ll likely need to start planning your tactics for launch and beyond; always plan for change management, not just during the project, but also to support the intranet once in business-as-usual.
Need advice on a new intranet? Get in touch!
Setting up a new intranet can feel daunting if you haven’t been involved in an intranet project before, but we hope this post has given you some pointers. If you need advice on your new intranet, then get in touch!
At the moment most business decisions are being made with reference to the current pandemic; its impact on the way we work now and in the near future is profound.
This is particularly true when it comes to digital workplace strategy. For many organisations the digital workplace has proved to be essential during lockdown; the successful scaling-up of remote working and collaboration and communication tools like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online and Zoom has ensured that businesses can continue with some of their operations. Now things have normalized a little, many businesses are now considering the next steps for their digital workplace strategy.
There is still the need for flexibility and adaptability; we dont know quite how long the pandemic will go on for. There may need to be the re-introduction of lockdown measures and the global economy is extremely fragile.
However it is important that organisations consider their digital workplace strategy not just for the shorter term, but also in the longer term too; most observers think that the pandemic will have a long lasting impact on the digital workplace, acting as a catalyst for trends relating to flexible working, online collaboration and digital employee experience that were already happening.
The pandemic impacts multiple areas of your digital workplace strategy. Heres our view of ten of the most important areas to consider.
1. The next stage of maturity
The digital workplace has matured considerably in the past three months; it is now scaled-up, with cutting edge collaboration tools rolled-out. Previously the focus for the strategy was on rolling out the tools and driving higher usage but this has now been achieved. Therefore, any strategy needs to address the question what is the next stage of maturity on our overall digital workplace journey? Opportunities and choices that were not available previously are now available for many organisations.
2. Business continuity
The pandemic has completely changed business continuity with scaled-up remote working and a robust digital workplace now at the centre of any plans. With the pandemic still unpredictable and with no end in sight, this capability needs to remain in place while lockdowns are still likely.
Going forward it seems likely that business continuity will continue to focus on this, considering the chances of future health crises and extreme weather events. Naturally, any digital workplace strategy needs to consider all the elements required for robust digital continuity such as infrastructure, connectivity, bandwidth, security, collaboration tools and so on, ensuring that the majority of employees can switch to working remotely with very short notice.
3. Offices and the physical workplace
The pandemic has changed the game in terms of the physical workplace; not only do premises need to be safe through social distancing but may also need to be reduced in size to reflect more home and remote working. In the longer term, Real Estate functions may also change their strategy to focus more on local or flexible spaces. Your digital workplace strategy will need to align with your physical workplace plans to ensure staff are supported by technology when working in physical locations.
4. Adoption, digital literacy and support
In the past, efforts to increase the adoption of digital workplace tools has all too often focused on increasing the number of people using the tools. The pandemic has, more or less, meant the numbers of employees using Zoom or Teams is now much higher than it was before.
A digital workplace strategy needs to cover where to focus efforts on adoption through digital literacy initiatives, training and support processes. Rather than concentrating on increasing the number of daily active users, it may have more value to look at how to get the best value out of tools through optimum usage. Some observers have suggested that some employees have simply swapped ways of working in the office and replicated them online; they are missing out on better ways of working such as asynchronous collaboration. This is a key area to cover in a digital workplace strategy.
5. Costs and productivity
Unfortunately, the pandemic has led to an extremely fragile global economy for the foreseeable future. Any digital workplace strategy is likely to need to navigate severe budgetary constraints or focus investment in areas that help drive efficiency and productivity, while also reducing costs.
Some level of digital workplace governance is usually required to deliver a sustainable and successful digital workplace. However, inevitably, when IT teams scrambled to scale up remote working in days or rolled-out Teams in record time, a few shortcuts, temporary measures, and workarounds had to be followed. Expediency tends to be the enemy of longer-term focused governance measures.
However, now that perhaps the dust has settled a little, it is quite possible that digital workplace teams can start to be introduce some level of process and governance that got missed in the earlier days of the pandemic, such as putting in some steps around site provisioning for collaboration tools. Governance measures will give a longer-term focus for your digital workplace strategy.
7. Digital engagement and communication
The pandemic has brought many challenges for employees and managers around digital communication and engagement. This is particularly true for teams that previously only worked together in the same physical location. While many teams have adjusted well, the realities of working through the pandemic requires that the right digital engagement and communication tools are in place to support employees, teams and managers.
8. More apps and tools for virtual teams
As teams start to gel and get more comfortable working together virtually, it might be the time to start to introduce new apps and tools that support more sophisticated online collaboration such as whiteboards. More specifically, there may be apps that are required by different functions. Any digital workplace strategy is likely to need to cover the new apps and tools required that can help virtual teams get their work done.
9. Measurement and analytics
Measurement and analytics tend to be one of the problem areas of the digital workplace; here practices are less mature and tend to take a tool by tool view rather than looking holistically across the whole ecosystem. However, interest in some areas such as workforce and people analytics is growing.
The new scaled-up remote working requires a review of analytics. Not only do the increase in digital workplace interactions provide new opportunities to derive new insights, the change in working methods may also require a rethink of how performance is measured. Overall, any digital workplace strategy needs to look at metrics with fresh eyes and consider new approaches.
10. Supporting innovation
In a difficult economic climate, innovation becomes increasingly important. Innovation through the creation of new products and services, or new processes to drive efficiency, or delivery methods that take into account the post-pandemic world, can help businesses through challenging times. Invariably, innovation is facilitated by digital workplace tools that support collaboration but also help to gather ideas; any strategy may need to explicitly address how the digital workplace will support innovation going forward. A digital workplace strategy the pandemic and post-pandemic world
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted the way we do business and the way we work. Digital workplace strategies need to consider the challenges and even some of the opportunities that are happening in the shift in working patterns and priorities. If youd like to discuss your digital workplace strategy in the light of the pandemic, then get in touch.
Covid-19 has driven massive digital adoption and there is consensus that the new/next normal will be more digitalized than pre-covid19. Artificial Intelligence is believed to be central in the industrial revolution 4.0, however research shows* that only 10% of AI implementations deliver the value expected.
Join Esben Rytter, Dan Hawtrey, John Scott and Joe Perry of Content Formula as they discuss the topic and answer the following questions:
What is AI and why is it important
What is AIs role in the digital workplace
When will AI disrupt my business?
What can I do about it?
Where and how to get started?
*State of the Digital Workplace Report 2019 Q2, CMSWIRE and Simpler Media survey based on 450 executives globally
We need an internal communications platform for our company. Where do I start?
Here at Content Formula we find ourselves being asked this kind of question from customers quite often. The technology choices for employee communications are now broad and mature; there are a lot of technology options and product choices. While this is a nice problem to have, it can be difficult to know how to start working out what will be the perfect fit for your needs and drive a strong digital employee experience.
There are a lot of different factors that need to be considered when you start choosing the right employee communication platform. It is likely that you will need to carry out some user research with your employees to nail down some specific requirements and then go through some kind of formal evaluation or RFP process. We are not talking about a decision that you can make in a week; investing in the right employee communications platform is important and warrants proper attention and process.
However, when you are starting out it can really help to know the kind of internal communications platform that you are after, for example whether you are looking for intranet software like Livetiles, or perhaps a LiveTiles Reach employee app. It is also important to know the kind of problems you are wanting to solve and focus on are you trying to improve the employee experience or are you more focused on efficiency?
Here are twelve things to consider when you are choosing your internal communications platform.
1. Your overall company strategy
What is your overall company strategy and objectives? Perhaps you are looking to merge two companies, to drive standardisation, to achieve digital transformation, to drive efficiencies or transform the digital employee experience. Perhaps you have to meet an ambitious recruitment drive? Perhaps you are having to readjust in the new reality of a post-pandemic world with continuing lockdowns and difficult economic conditions? Whatever your company strategy, the objectives and capabilities of your employee communication channel will need to align with these wider aims.
2. Key stakeholder strategies and objectives
Your choice of employee communication platform will also be heavily influenced by other critical strategies from key stakeholders. These include your technology strategy, your digital strategy, your internal comms strategy, your HR strategy and even your customer experience strategy. There may also be some related roadmaps which have some real bearing on your choices; the IT and HR technology roadmaps are particularly important here and may include dependencies that impact your communication technology choices.
3. Employee and user needs
A huge impact on your choice of your communication platform are the needs of your employees. It is important to have an understanding of:
the processes that need to be improved
the pain points that need to be removed
the information employees rely on to complete tasks
how employees interact with devices
the kind of content that engages employees.
The more you have of this kind of understanding, then the better decision you will make to choose the kind of platform that will make a real difference to the employee experience.
4. The composition of your workforce
Its also important to understand the composition of your workforce and the range of different needs across regions, locations, divisions and roles. Global workforces can be both complex and diverse with multiple cultures, languages and circumstances. In particular, you may have office-based employees and those who are frontline or deskless; your solution may need to be able to deliver effective messaging to very different groups.
5. Your current digital communications set-up
What you already have in place for digital communications is also a major factor. You may have an intranet that already works and need an employee app, or the other way around. You may have an extensive network of digital signage. You may want to change one of your technologies so it integrates with the others, or you may want to look to evolve an ecosystem from scratch. Knowing what already works and what doesnt is also a valuable input into choosing the right product and related approach.
6. The technology landscape: Micrososft 365 or not Microsoft 365
The current technology landscape is also important in terms of ensuring that whatever you choose will fit into your technology stack and potentially integrate with other tools. Often the key question here is whether you are on Microsoft 365 (or SharePoint for on-premises) or not; do you want your communication platform to integrate with SharePoint, for example?
The hardware and devices in operation will also be a factor here. You want to ensure the right compatibility with the computers and mobile devices that your employees have, and also whether some employees may have to use their own personal mobile devices to access digital tools. This latter point is often a key decision point on choosing an employee app platform.
8. Security and risk
Depending on your sector, legal and regulatory commitments, and information security requirements, security and risk are going to be a big factor in the choice of any product. Its always worth considering these from the outset as it can dictate your technology choices, in particular relating to cloud vs on-premises.
However, there can be a surprising amount of wiggle room, as sometimes risk considerations are dependent on the information and communications you choose to include on a communication platform. There are also configurations you can usually make to navigate some of these challenges.
9. Budget and resourcing
Obviously, your budget will be a consideration here and it will be useful to have some kind of range of what is realistic. However, when thinking about money it is worth taking into account the total cost of ownership across three to give years. Look beyond the first-year licensing and installation costs however attractive these may seem. Does the solution save you any time and money? Are there any additional costs that need to be taken into account?
Youll also need to consider the resourcing required to manage it. For example, a new intranet is likely to need some kind of dedicated intranet manager.
10. Identity management and related data
If any factor gets missed in choosing a platform it is considering the state of the data that underpins your identity management set-up. You may have data dependencies which you need to make a particular employee communication platform work. In particular, relatively complete Active Directory data usually fed from a HR system is usually critical for driving effective personalization on an intranet, but not all organisations have this.
Also, whether your frontline employees have digital identities usually in the form of corporate email addresses will also dictate the kind of solution you choose; your choice of internal communication platform may need to be able to be accessed by people who arent on Active Directory at all. This tends to be an area where employee apps perform better than intranets.
Your timetable can be important. There may be a pressing, urgent need to roll something out quickly, for example an upcoming merger. Some platforms are quicker to roll-out, although there are usually options to proceed quickly for most products, for example taking more of a minimum viable product (MVP) approach.
12. Detailed requirements
Ultimately you will need some kind of more detailed requirements to make any final decision on technology. You want to ensure the platform you invest in has all the specific capabilities you need. Carrying out a detailed user research and discovery phase to get those requirements is critical.
Improving the digital employee experience
Your choice of communication platform is important in driving the best digital employee experience possible. But it is not always straightforward there are multiple factors to take into account. We hope this article is a useful starting point. If you would like to discuss which internal communications platform is right for you, then get in touch!
Our answer is usually fairly unequivocal. If you are a larger company or have more complex needs, in general out of the box SharePoint just isnt going to meet your needs. Across a wide range of capabilities and attributes including internal communications, collaboration, forms & workflow and branding, weve generally found SharePoint Online alone just wont cut it for you. Thats not to say its core elements wont be a key part of your intranet, but with a purely out of the box approach there is usually a missing feature, an irritating compromise you have to make, or something frustrating for users. Dont underestimate how seemingly small issues can seriously impact your adoption and user confidence in your intranet.
Of course, this situation may change over time as Microsoft continue to add to SharePoint Online and add templates and features which support more sophisticated intranet management. But its also very much the case that your own needs will change too. You need an intranet platform that is going to support your future internal communication and digital workplace strategy.
If youre a smaller company perhaps say of 200 or 300 people and you have what youd classify as less sophisticated internal communications needs, then the situation is less clear cut. Lets look at some of the variables you need to consider, in terms of the suitability of SharePoint Online or Wizdom out of the box for key use cases.
Modern SharePoint has made leaps and bounds when it comes to news publishing and support for internal communications. You can use a combination of communication sites for news and then aggregate these within a hub site, so effectively you can have different teams and departments contributing news. The good news is that the publishing user interface are really easy to use, and news is presented well. Microsoft have also added capabilities around more audience targeting.
For a small organisation with straightforward internal communications needs this may be perfectly serviceable. For example, if you already mainly rely on email for sending messages around the office and dont have a dedicated internal comms manager Modern is probably all you need.
However when you have a more complex communications needs with audience targeting that is particularly granular, multi-language, approval workflow, the need for news to move from a main carousel to a different homepage area and you work off an editorial calendar, its likely youll need the extra features and templates of a solution like Wizdom. Smaller organisations with a diverse and distributed workforce may also find this is the case, although increasingly over time Microsoft are adding capabilities that may help to drive more sophisticated internal communication capabilities.
Publishing and content management
The cornerstone of a great intranet is great content that helps employees get things done. Standard documents, information on how things work, departmental landing pages, product information, information on company strategy and more means that the intranet should be an essential reference guide that supports everything from task completion to driving better customer service.
Despite the transformation of publishing content when comparing modern and classic SharePoint, when it comes to a publishing platform and related content management processes Wizdom wins hands down.
If you want to drive content to higher publishing standards that presents information in a number of different ways and need to ensure that content is always up to date (for example if you are basing sales or customer support staff need access to product information) then Wizdom provides a more focused set of options, for example having a central policy, procedures and forms library straight out of the box. If you rely on a devolved publishing model with numerous content owners, then Wizdom allows you to build in governance for publishing to maintain standards.
If your content needs are far less important and its just a collection of central documents that need to be maintained and accessed and you dont have a large collection of critical operational content, then modern SharePoint with pages and document libraries will probably suffice.
Of course, Office 365 and indeed SharePoint Online already packs a very handy set of collaboration tools including Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Team Sites. For any small organisation Wizdom is unlikely to add much to this toolset although there is a handy community template also. For most small organisations Office 365 out of the box is going to work fine.
Wizdoms collaboration provisioning engine also allows you to control the type of collaboration site that employees use for different use cases and also establishes approval workflow for sites set up. If youre a company that has a more frequent or structured approach to collaboration (for example an engineering firm with a strong project management methodology) you may find Wizdom has some advantages for you over just using Modern SharePoint Online.
Microsoft has recently made building something resembling a more traditional top-level navigation much easier, allowing you to tie together communication and hub sites together into what is more like an intranet experience. If youre a smaller organisation, then youre unlikely to need a massively complicated navigation so SharePoint out of the box will probably work. If you require something more complex such as personalised menus for different groups then Wizdom may be more robust, but again this is less likely to be a concern for a smaller company.
Apps, forms and workflow
Most intranets now have come packed with various apps and workflow capability that work just out of the box. Wizdom is particularly good for this, for example with the ability to manage events and an additional module to manage tickets, as well as simple request and approval processes via forms. However, Office 365 comes with huge capabilities to develop custom apps via various tools like PowerApps and Flow. While you can do some even more amazing things by leveraging their power in combination with Wizdom, in terms of creating apps suited around the way your business actually works and then presenting these through a single-entry point, then both Wizdom and Modern SharePoint / Office 365 deliver.
Integration with Office 365 and other tools
Both SharePoint Online out of the box and the Wizdom product have the ability to integrate tightly with other Office 365 tools such as Teams and Yammer. They also come with customisation options to integrate popular services and other applications. Generally, youll find both approaches probably support the Office 365 integration options youre considering so if you are a small company, we imagine most of your integration needs will be met.
Different organisations need different capabilities from their intranet depending on industry sector, key organisational processes and what systems are already in place. A small companys needs around core intranet staples such as the employee directory and particularly enterprise search may differ from organisation to organisation so the suitability of SharePoint out of the box will also vary. For example, Microsoft have recently made improvements to search which may meet many needs, but other organisations may need something very specialist.
Its always difficult to know what youre going to require in the future. Your organisation may restructure or get larger. Your needs may become more sophisticated as you see new possibilities with your platform, or you introduce a new service.
In general, you need a solution thats going to be flexible in terms of being able to scale easily, add new features and integrate with other tools. Both SharePoint Online and Wizdom intranet both provide some flexibility and evolution in this case. Microsoft are definitely ramping up intranet-related capabilities for Office 365 and this is likely to continue. Wizdom intranets roadmap remains aligned to the Office 365 roadmap, but has also continues to add new features and even innovations like AI. So as a small company, installing SharePoint Online out of the box doesnt necessarily limit all your future options. You can also always upgrade easily to Wizdom intranet if you grow rapidly, especially as Wizdom works independently of your SharePoint sites.
Of courses, cost is where SharePoint Online and Office 365 out of the box is going to have an advantage over Wizdom. If you are a smaller company with simple needs, then this may be the factor that pushes you towards simply using Office 365.
Our only advice is to beware of hidden costs and false economies. Relying on Communication and Hub sites may look fantastic on your budget plans but if user needs are probably better met by an intranet product like Wizdom, then you may eventually end up facing additional costs, for example when you start hiring developers to customise Office 365 or when other functions start to buy in other apps to compensate for what Office 365 cant do. Wizdoms reasonable pricing certainly makes it a great investment for most companies.
Whether you use Modern SharePoint or an intranet product like Wizdom will depend on your needs and priorities. Its not always a straightforward choice. If youre still confused, get in touch with us and well be happy to discuss this with you.
Introducing Livetiles Intelligent Intranet, Bot & Analytics Platform. LiveTiles is a mobile-responsive digital workplace solutions platform. It enables you to build fully-customisable Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 sites at a fraction of the typical cost in a fraction of the time.
Over 60 pre-configured and easy to use Intranet features
Create modern, mobile responsive pages
Extensive integrations with Office 365 apps like Yammer, Teams, etc.
Bring all your applications onto a single user interface
Generate actionable insights to optimise your portals and workspaces
Faster ROI with comprehensive insights and analytics
AI Technology to monitor your Active Directory completeness
Reduces manual work on directory maintenance and improves IT responsiveness
Customise Bot’s capabilities, code free, with the power of LiveTiles
Create Bots take care of mundane, repetitive tasks with LiveTilesBotbuilder
Provide better, more interactive and engaging user experiences
Rapid deployment reduces up front cost and time to launch
LiveTiles aides collaboration and knowledge sharing across multiple locations
Enables business planning using accurate data and user information
Reduces complexity in working with your existing applications
Use Artificial Intelligence to reduce end user workload
Enriches user experience for all Microsoft Collaborative Platforms
Improves Users Sharepoint, Org Chart, Delve and Teams interaction
Empower employees to build sites & bots internally
Helps drive adoption of Office 365 and digital workplace tools
If you are interested in Livetiles intranet, then get in touch.
How do you launch an intranet and then continue to successfully drive adoption? Its an issue many intranet teams tackle and remains a focus for their efforts. Unfortunately, theres no one simple solution or single ingredient X that delivers good adoption. Instead it requires a range of different tactics and approaches over a sustained period to make an intranet a true success and get everybody using it in ways which drive value.
Part of the effort to drive adoption needs to be change management, often reflected in communications promoting the intranet across different channels. Communicating about the intranet creates awareness but also drives employee buy-in. To drive adoption, employees dont just need to know a new intranet is there, but they also need to understand the why what are the benefits for using it?
Most of our clients have found in that promoting the intranet it is critical to take a top-down approach, highlighting senior management support, but also adopt a bottom-up approach involving endorsement from peers and colleagues. There are many reasons why this dual approach works best, including:
The use of social tools and intranets is rarely mandatory, and therefore you need to work on influencing the hearts and minds of employees to get them to use the intranet taking a dual approach maximises your chances of doing this.
Organisations are inherently complex and sometimes highly decentralised, and there can be more allegiance to local divisions or departments than the centre, so endorsement needs to come from central and local sources to be convincing.
Workforces are very diverse and to make the most sense, communication about the use of the intranet needs to be set in the framework of specific local, functional or team needs.
Lets explore some of these themes in more detail.
Why top-down approaches are critical
Involving senior leaders in your intranet launch and ongoing adoption plan is a must. Having them involved will help you increase intranet awareness as more employees will take notice of a message from your CEO rather than somebody less senior.
Top-down communication also gives the intranet a legitimacy and sets the strategic context for its use. Ideally your CEO is painting the bigger picture by explaining that the intranet is important and showing how it fits into wider organisational goals and strategy. This helps users to understand why the intranet is a must-use channel.
More specifically, communication and endorsement from senior management can also influence the actions of other managers who are tasked to deliver central communications to their teams and beyond. There can be a cascade or trickle-down effect with endorsement of the new intranet. This has most impact if senior leaders lead by example and continue to use the intranet in a highly visible way. Other senior managers, then middle managers and then their teams may follow suit in using the intranet and its constituent tools.
How to deliver top-down communications
Our clients and other organisations have used different tactics to show their leaders support and endorse the new intranet. For example:
Featuring senior leaders in a high-profile launch video promoting the intranet
Putting a senior leader behind some more traditional messaging, such as all company email or an announcement on the new intranet itself
Identifying a member of the C-suite as the owner or the champion of the new intranet
Getting senior management to announce a new intranet at a town hall or internal conference
Getting senior leaders to continue to use social tools such as blogs, communities or commenting on content, so they have a visible presence
Getting the CEO to encourage other senior leaders to also champion the intranet
Why bottom-up communication is also critical
Sometimes endorsement from senior management isnt enough to drive adoption, and a tandem bottom-up approach reflected in peer-to-peer recommendations of intranet use and more local promotion is required.
In larger global companies, in organisations built by acquisition or where processes tend to be decentralised and individual parts of the company operate with some autonomy, there can be some mild resistance to and skepticism about centrally-driven messages and initiatives. This does have the ability to negatively impact adoption for intranets.
There can also be some general skepticism about intranets, for example from employees who experienced a poor intranet at a former place they worked. If youve experienced an intranet which was only used for corporate messaging or was riddled with technical problems, then you may have low expectations and be less than excited about what an intranet can do for you.
Having local endorsement of the intranet from peers can override this. It can dispel any notion that the intranet is not a useful work tool. However, perhaps the most important factor is that when a peer recommends the intranet to a colleague they usually describe it in a way which references local roles, priorities and cultural sensitivities. They also may use the primary language of a local office which means messaging can be more direct and impactful.
While central messaging is important, local or peer recommendation helps employees understand whats in it for them and how the intranet can help them in their everyday role. It also potentially drives additional trust in the relevance of the intranet to them.
How to support bottom-up communications
Weve seen several ways that organisations help support bottom-up communication for intranets, including:
Organising a champions or advocate network to promote the intranet through different divisions, locations and departments
Providing resources for local champions to adapt to their own needs to promote the intranet to their peers
Running train the trainer programmes to help local champions teach others about the intranet
Focusing on local use cases and communities which will make sense to different parts of the organisation and show a relevant example of good use
Working together with local management and promoters to co-promote the intranet
Taking the dual approach
There are different ways to launch and promote an intranet, as well as keep up the efforts to drive adoption. And some tactics will work better for some organisations than others.
Whatever you try and do, you need both top-down and bottom-up approaches to do this effectively. The combined forces of leadership endorsement and peer recommendation creates awareness and the right context for its successful use. Then the maximum number of people possible can start to benefit from using your intranet.
Book in a free consultation call with us to discuss your project and find out more about our services and how we can add value to your digital workplace. Simply fill out the form and pick a time and date in our calendar.
Alternatively, if you have a question and would like to find out more about us first, please use our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.