Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The value of engaging staff with your intranet

No matter how well designed, structured and written, an intranet has little value if it isn't top of mind for your staff.

One of my primary goals in managing my agency's intranet is to ensure it remains well used - high on the list of resources used by staff when they require information or need to complete a task.

What's the value?
My top-of-mind values for the use of the intranet include,
  • Strategic alignment
    Supports the organisation in communicating and reinforcing its strategic goals, thereby helping staff act in support of the organisation's aims in a consistent manner
  • Consistent levels of quality service delivery
    The intranet, as a single current navigable source of processes, information and tools, can influence the consistency and quality of services delivered from diverse locations more effectively than managers, training or printed documentation.
  • Organisational knowledge creation, retention and dissemination
    As a well-structured and searchable repository, an intranet can both help capture and disseminate organisational knowledge, as well as facilitate expert networks and collaboration. Note this doesn't make an intranet an information management system in the traditional definition, but it does make the intranet a primary interface to this system.

  • Internal communication and collaboration improvements
    An appropriately constructed internet facilitates communication and collaboration across both remote and nearby staff and management, reducing the tendency to silo and enhancing the quality of decision-making processes.
  • Cost savings
    Intranet delivery of information is cheaper than extensive travel or the maintenance of paper records for all but the smallest organisations. It is also more effective than email blasts at delivering large quantities of information in digestible and referable chunks.

Achieving staff engagement with your intranet
To improve engagement with my agency's intranet, my team focuses on improving four areas:
  • Usefulness
    Ensuring that the intranet contains the tools and current information required by staff. Outdated or missing content quickly reduces staff engagement with any medium.
  • Awareness
    Raising the profile of the intranet and what it contains across the organisation. This means frequently communicating how our intranet can assist people in their roles and highlighting new features and developments.
  • Convenience
    Continually improving the usability and accessibility of our intranet, particularly around search and navigation, to make it easy and quick to use. The less thought and time staff need to commit when using our intranet, the more they will use it over alternatives.
  • Inclusion
    I have positioned the my team as an leadership group to support staff in succeeding in their goals via the intranet, rather than as an expert black box team that interposes itself between the broader organisation and the intranet.
    This means that we share knowledge openly across our author network and encourage other staff to take ownership of their intranet sections, with my team acting in an advisory fashion to help improve the quality of what and how they communicate.
At the end of the day our agency's intranet is there to empower and support staff in achieving the strategic aims of the agency.

As the intranet team our goal is to support this rather than control it.

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