Monday, August 25, 2008

Asking staff for feedback on your intranet

I'm a big believer in asking customers what they want and regularly checking how satisfied they are with the services provided.

Where this relates to our Agency's intranet, our staff are my customers.

In some ways this is a great group to have as customers
  • They work in a controlled environment (using the same software and systems)
  • They have some similar needs and goals
  • There are more opportunities to influence their behaviour than with external customers (via different communications channels, policies, processes and standards)
  • They often know what they want and need!
In other ways this can be a tougher than regular crowd
  • They understand the material better than my team
  • There is less tolerance for failure (no product recalls, or money back guarantees possible)
  • They often know what they want and need!
You may have noticed one item is listed in both. This makes capturing feedback extremely important.

An intranet is not essential to the operations of most businesses or agencies. Organisations existed long before intranets were possible.

However information is essential to their operations. The more efficient an organisation's internal information flows, the more effectively they can operate and compete.

An intranet's value is in its ability to get the right information and services to the right people at the right time - in accurate, usable chunks. If an intranet doesn't provide the right information, or deliver it appropriately, it will be bypassed.

Collecting feedback is essential in identifying who need what information when, and tracking the changing needs of staff over time.

Staff already know what they need (most of the time) - as intranet managers our job is to get what they need to them.

My intranet goals
Since taking over the intranet team about a year ago, my goals have been to;
  • Understand intranet use within the organisation
    Benchmark and track how people used the intranet - content and frequency
    Benchmark and track what people thought of our intranet (perceptions governing usage)
  • Improve the intranet's effectiveness in supporting organisational objectives
    Identify issues and improvements (continually)
    Track the effectiveness of changes
  • Increase engagement with the intranet
    Encourage staff to move from passive readers to active users
    Provide opportunities to innovate and contribute

Achieving these goals
To achieve these goals I've worked with my team, and others in the agency, to put some systems in place to capture information on the behaviours of intranet users and their usage of the system.

We've also put several different feedback mechanisms in place that improve our understanding of what our customers (staff) need - and allow us to improve on an ongoing basis.

They include,
  • Effective intranet reporting systems, for ongoing site and search usage
    We use Webtrends for traffic, supported by Mondosearch for search reporting

  • A six monthly user satisfaction survey (moving to annual) for big picture snapshots
    Using ATOSurv - a great survey tool developed within the ATO

  • An external survey facility useful for rapid and brief spot surveys on specific topics
    Using SurveyMonkey - which allows us to provide survey results easily to groups across the agency

  • A page feedback system for rating individual intranet pages and collecting useful comments regarding improvements
    This is a custom-developed extension to our CMS. Only implemented a few weeks ago, it has already been used over 300 times to rate various pages in our intranet and leave feedback.

Why go to all this trouble?
Together these tools provide my team with the management information necessary to manage our agency's intranet system.

They provide a continuous picture of intranet activity and satisfaction, allowing us to both understand the overall trends and deal with spot issues with individual pages or topics.

The result of this is that we are better able to;
  • give staff access to the information they need to do their jobs more effectively
  • give teams across the organisation feedback on how staff uses the information they provide
  • give management input on how rapidly staff are adopting and applying behaviours, policies and systems mandated by the organisation
  • provide our customers with a better service experience
I believe that the value - although hard to measure - of all these benefits far outweighs the time commitment required to actually listen to our staff.

What do you think? (yes I'm listening!)


  1. Thank you for this post. Mondosearch was a new tool for me. Seems interesting. What kind of benefits does Mondosearch give compared to WebTrends? Doesn't WebTrends have enough search measurement capabilities?

    What kind of rating system you have in place? Do you use different questions for different content or just some general "Rate the content"?

  2. What questions do you ask on the "Rate this page"? We're currently changing ours from a single, generic "was this page useful" to a more robust set of 4 questions that we hope will be actionable - about quality, amount of content, visual design, and navigation.