Over the holidays, I took some time out to read over the notes from previous discovery sessions with potential clients. The goal was to establish the most common intranet challenges faced by organizations, the most common aspirational intranet goals, and to explore if by digging into the data, I could uncover the most common cause of employee intranet failure.
Searching for the Most Common Intranet Challenge
Hands down, search and findability continue to be the number one intranet challenge and pain point for organizations. Poor search experience within the workplace is amplified by the reliability and power of our other search experiences outside of a corporate setting. The inability to successfully locate information required to perform daily tasks is a major source of frustration for employees. Many end users scratch their heads and think, ‘why won’t my company invest in a better search engine?’ It can lead to dissatisfaction and disconnection across the workforce.
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Unfortunately, search experience issues can’t be solved with one magical technological investment – there is no magic button. A good example of this is evident in SharePoint. The search capability is very powerful, but it only works properly when a thoughtful approach to information architecture is adopted and content is tagged and categorized correctly. The same can be said for an employee intranet. Understanding the answers to the following questions will make it easier to create the search experience your employees truly deserve:
- What business process does the content map to?
- What types of information are end users looking for?
- How often are users searching for particular information?
- How should content be ranked on the intranet?
- How should content be grouped on the intranet?
Meaningful insights to highlight the search and findability needs at your workplace can be gained by involving end users in the process of answering these questions. Given that the modus operandi of an employee intranet is to serve employees, it’s important that they’re included in the conversations aimed at improving intranet search.
There’s Beauty in Employee Intranet Simplicity
As I looked back over the notes from discovery calls, I was surprised by the sheer number of aspirational intranet goals that surfaced. When I look over the totality of the intranet challenges and concerns that were shared by prospects, a common theme crops up time and time again: a yearning for intranet simplicity. Organizations are eager to remove the complexity that’s typically associated with managing an employee intranet. Intranet managers struggle with complications concerning everything from content authoring to intranet ease-of-use and pine for a robust employee intranet that’s reliable and provides convenient management capabilities for IT.
On the flip side, providing employees with a robust and effortless intranet significantly increases user adoption across an organization. Looking back over the meeting notes with prospective customers, it’s clear that if we want to encourage employee intranet adoption, the intranet platform must be simple and straightforward.
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In order to create a simple intranet experience, we first must understand what is difficult. In order to obtain these crucial indicators, we must once again ask great questions to understand the root of the problem.
- What makes authoring content difficult?
- What makes adding content to your department page challenging?
- What would make authoring content easier?
- What flexibility are you looking for when it comes to updating your department page?
These questions may seem ‘simple,’ but not asking them is like going someplace for the first time without consulting with any navigation, such as Google maps – you might eventually get there, but chances are you will get lost and waste a lot of time searching for your destination. As my Mum taught us early on- ‘always ask for directions!’
Tailor-made Intranets Don’t Measure Up
Digging into the notes to understand why employee intranets fail is not as simple. In some cases, it was because the creators of a custom-built intranet moved on, leaving a knowledge gap that couldn’t be filled with in-house skills. Another risk with custom intranets is that they’re not always compatible when the platform they’re built on is upgraded, rendering the intranet obsolete and requiring significant investment to re-build, as was the case with our award-winning client Capital Power. In other cases, the organization looked at the intranet as a one-off project, as such, there was no clear plan or responsibility to keep the intranet fresh and evolving. Lastly, in some cases the intranet had not been viewed as a powerful business tool and little to no end-user input was sought during its creation. As a result, it didn’t really help the workforce, so end-users didn’t gain any value in using it.
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All the fine people I spoke with had the very best of intentions when they went down the path of custom intranet creation, but inevitably there is a certain amount of risk associated with building an intranet internally or leveraging a consulting firm to build a custom intranet. If people leave or if your intranet fails to keep pace with technological change, it can have a devastating impact on the end-user experience. It will stop being a powerful tool that helps staff find what they need when they need it. That’s rather sad, don’t you think?
Experience a Stress-free Employee Intranet
What brings me a spark of joy is helping people discover that there is an easier way to create a powerful intranet experience that people actually love using. Our passion lies in helping organizations that choose to partner with us to tackle the important pre-work tasks that help to create an amazing intranet experience that your employees deserve. Imagine how much easier it is with a dedicated team who have perfected their craft through years of intranet experience. We are incredibly passionate about creating great intranets that will delight your employees today – and into the foreseeable future. We are committed to delivering excellent intranets with BONZAI, guiding organizations through rudimentary tasks that create a rock-solid foundation to enable the elusive search results that employees are worthy of, powered by BONZAI’s advanced search capabilities. We also help people to connect with each other to encourage meaningful collaboration. Lastly, we take the burden of constant improvement of your intranet off your plate. We are committed to continual product evolution to ensure that BONZAI remains the stress-free intranet of choice.
I hope that you have found these insights of interest. To help your people to communicate, collaborate and productively complete tasks, a well-architected intranet is mandatory. The only way to achieve this is to deeply understand what your people need and what obstacles lie in their path. Start by identifying the biggest barriers. Once you have a better understanding of the problem, it will help to make your intranet journey straightforward and stress-free.