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3 Intranet Challenges

Over the holidays, I decided to read my notes from many discovery sessions with potential clients. My goal was to establish the most common challenges shared, the most common aspirational goals, and see if by digging into the data, I could uncover the most common points of failure.

Search continues to be the number one pain point

Poor search experience at work is amplified by the simplicity and power of our personal experiences outside of the corporate setting. Not being able to find what is needed to perform our daily work is a major source of frustration. Many end users scratch their heads and think, ‘why won’t my company invest in a better search engine?’ It creates frustration and disconnection.

Search experience can’t be solved with one magical technology investment – there is no magic button. A good example is SharePoint. The search capability is very powerful, but if we don’t do the upfront work, it won’t work. Understanding the answers to the following questions will make it easier to create a search experience your employees deserve.

  • What business process does this map to?
  • What types of information are end users looking for?
  • How often are they searching for certain types of information?
  • How should content be ranked?
  • What is the value this search result will provide?
  • How does this fit with our vision for search?


By involving your end users, you will have meaningful insights into what your people need, why they need it and how often they are looking for certain things.

Complexity creates obstacles

When I reviewed the notes from my many discovery calls, I was surprised by the aspirational goals, even though I was the one asking the questions. When I look over the totality of what was being shared, the common goal was simplicity. What was most desired was to remove the complexity of managing the Intranet from a content authoring perspective, ease of use for the end user, creation for page owners, and simplicity for IT administration. The best thing you can do to encourage new behavior is to remove obstacles from the work flow. When I reviewed my notes, it became clear that if we want to encourage adoption of the intranet, it absolutely must be simple.

In order to create a simpler experience, we first must understand what is hard. In order to obtain these crucial indicators, we must once again ask great questions to understand the problem.

  • What makes authoring content difficult?
  • What makes adding content to your department page challenging?
  • What would make authoring content simpler?
  • 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 Google maps – you might eventually get there, but chances are you will get lost and waste a lot of time looking for your destination. As my Mum taught us early on, ask for directions.

Custom Intranets don’t always keep pace with technology

Digging into the notes to understand why Intranets failed is not as simple. In some cases, it was because it was custom built and when the creators moved on, it left a knowledge gap that couldn’t be filled. In some cases, they looked at the Intranet as a project, as such there was no clear vision 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. As a result, it didn’t really help, so the end users didn’t use it.

All the fine people I spoke with had the very best of intentions when they went down the path of custom 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 technology change, it will have an impact on end user experience. It will stop being a powerful tool to help people find what they need, when they need it. That’s rather sad when you think about it.

The stress-free path

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 will love using. Our passion is helping organizations that decide to partner with us tackle the important pre-work that will create the experiences that your employees deserve. Imagine how much easier it would be to have a dedicated team who have done this work for years and have perfected their craft. We are incredibly passionate about creating Intranets that will delight your employees today – and tomorrow. We are committed to helping create a rock-solid foundation that will enable the elusive search results that you should demand. 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 commit to constant product evolution.

I hope that you have found these insights of interest. In order to help your people navigate the wonderful internal digital world, 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 make your Intranet journey stress-free. Believe in the possible.

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