10 Characteristics of a great intranet
After some consideration, here are my 10 characteristics of a great intranet. These headings should be independent of the organisation itself.
1. An open, multi-way communication vehicle: Top Down, Bottom Up, Peer-to-Peer
An enterprise has a host of communication channels available, but the intranet is a critical one. A great intranet must facilitate all communication routes: Top Down, Bottom Up, Peer-to-Peer. There must be a channel to allow senior leaders to communicate key organisational messages and there must be a way for employees to let your CEO know what they think! Wherever you can, publish content provider’s names and, if possible, have presence awareness facilities so that peer-to-peer communication is maximised.
2. A facilitator of enterprise collaboration
How does your business collaborate? Email and shared network drives are still a default collaboration tool in many organisations but your intranet is superbly placed to assist. Through teamsites, knowledge shares, instant messaging, video tools, your intranet can be the key enabler of enterprise collaboration: great intranets are doing this now.
3. An executor of business transactions
A great intranet is a place of action and should be a part of business processes. Typically, these business transactions will include HR self-service tools (payslips, pensions, benefits, time off booking), expenses, travel booking and so on. British Airways has embraced the idea of the intranet as an executor of business transactions — a great example of what’s possible. Bringing these transactions to the intranet are tremendously valuable.
- It brings dedicated, guaranteed traffic which, in turn, enhances your intranets communication and collaboration efficiencies.
- Employees like having all these functions in one dedicated place. It’s just easier.
4. A tool that positively impacts every job in your company
In short, does your intranet make a difference to employees? If you were to take it away tomorrow, would people notice / care / cry?
5. A gateway to business knowledge
Where is knowledge in your company? My enterprise knowledge is in my head, on paper on my desk, on my laptop, on sharedrives and increasingly, in teamsites. But should I leave, nearly all of this would be lost to my current company. Indeed, even whilst I’m still employed, most of my knowledge is not in a place where it can be shared, used, learnt or redeployed. Intranets are a great place to share knowledge and make this knowledge work for the organisation.
A great intranet should also allow you to identify the people that have the knowledge you need. Time spent on developing skills and experiences sections as part of employee intranet profiles is rarely wasted. We should all know what we each know.
6. A digital reflection of the values of the company
Employees do not need their intranet to be liberally emblazoned with the company colours to know which company they work for, but a great intranet will be a digital reflection of the company values. It will embody the company ethos; it should feel the same as being in an office. A great intranet is in tune with the company way.
7. Serves to build enterprise community
Many companies are recognising the value of internal community building to facilitating collaboration and innovation, but also in driving employee engagement and connection with the company they work for. Allowing people to connect by surfacing interests, skills, experiences and hobbies on a profile page is the first step; the second is to provide intranet ‘space’ and company time for that community to thrive.
Community tools could extend beyond the current employee base. Consider community tools for your company alumni or even prospective employees who are still at University. Communities could co-exist across intranets, corporate internets and social media sites.
8. Transparent governance, management and strategy
It’s all well and good having this great intranet, but if no one knows the strategy, who governs and controls this space and what the rules of engagement are, then there’s still clear space for improvement. Be sure to publish the governance structure, your intranet strategy, the key personnel contact information and all the rules of intranet engagement on the intranet. Set up an ‘ideas’ section so employees can contribute to the organic growth of your intranet.
9. An engaging space
This is one is difficult to define but you know when you’ve got it!
10. Available where your employees need it
An intranet cannot just be a tool for those of your employees who have a laptop. A great intranet has a reach as broad as your employees day-to-day geography:
- At home (for access before and after work)
- At the office on a laptop/desktop
- Via kiosks for production and distribution facilities
- On mobile/smartphones
- Whenever you receive an email link to intranet content, you should be able to access that content
How do you score? 10 out of 10? Remarkable! Let me know your thoughts on these headlines and do share your experiences.