Designing your intranet for maximum impact

Posted 26 January 2018 12:00 AM by Petula Aardenburg, Sales & Marketing Coordinator @ ClearPeople

What makes a successful intranet? There are a number of factors that contribute to success:

  • A positive ROI – proof that your money is well spent
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Maximum user engagement with your employees using it how you intended

The “ultimate intranet” must meet your organisation’s needs as set out in your original requirements. But how do you achieve these results? What do you need to do to make your intranet successful?

This blog will give you an idea of how to plan for, and execute, your intranet project with the focus on impact.

The Impact-Driven Process

The impact-driven process (inUse Holding AB) is a framework that presents the needful activities and decisions, but specifies neither their approach nor their scope. Deciding on techniques, methods and models to use comes under ‘project management’, and isn’t part of the framework.

Ingrid Domingues (The Intranet Book) explains that a successful intranet should be usable, useful and essential. It is important that employees can easily find the information they are looking for. This means that your intranet should be well structured, complete, updated and information needs to meet content standards. Also, it should make employees more effective and knowledgeable, supporting passion and engagement, and reducing any issues as they perform their work. It should free up time and the intranet cannot be replaced; it has become essential for the organisation.

An intranet can make a difference for your organisation and its business. The impact of an intranet in your organisation can be summarised in three high-level areas: 

  1. Effectiveness – doing the things in the right way and making it impossible to make mistakes. Having proactive employees that perform at their best and creating value. A successful intranet is effective and efficient.
  2. Sharing and building knowledge – having a place where existing knowledge is being saved and shared. Employees can work on this knowledge by updating and improving it, so it keeps evolving. Also, making it easier for new starters to quickly get up-to-date.
  3. Internal brand – What’s important to keep in mind is to be clear on the corporate vision, strategies and decisions. Giving employees a good example, guidance, structure and culture, motivates them.

The impact-driven process is a straightforward tool for prioritising and determining the scope of your intranet project. It’s a good way to evaluate the performance of a design suggestion and solution when the desired impact has been clearly defined. Most of the time, digital development starts with the possibilities and limitations of available technology and a list of functions. The impact-driven process is just the opposite.

Impact-driven design and development comes with three questions that need to be answered:

  1. Which workplace tasks and situations generate the most impact for the organisation?
  2. How can those tasks and situations be designed, in the intranet, to generate maximum impact for everyday work, and for the organisation?
  3. How can we test and prove that we have succeeded, that the desired impact is achieved? 

Four Phases of the Impact-Driven Process

The impact-driven process consists of four phases; (1) Vision, (2) Discovery, (3) Development and (4) Improvement. These phases help business- and project managers to decide whether implementing an intranet has proved itself sufficiently to warrant spending the time and money needed to move on to the next phase. It’s recommended to apply iterative principles to the processes of determining desired impact, making design, and testing whether the desired impact really emerges in use.

impactdrivenprocess

  1. Vision
    The purpose of this phase is to have the company managers’ views of the organisation’s needs. What is the desired impact for implementing the intranet? What kind of difference will the intranet make for both the business and employees and more importantly, how to measure this difference? Organising a workshop with the managers to define the impact can help.
  2. Discovery
    This phase is all about understanding the users’ needs and how to create the intended benefits for the business. Interviewing and observing the users can be a great way to get more insight into their everyday work life. Ask them what they would need to do their jobs better, what is lacking from the existing intranet, what’s the best and worst feature, and so on. Once you know the users’ needs you’ll need to link this to the desired impact from the Vision phase. Is it possible to achieve the desired business impact? Is the business impact the most important impact the intranet could have on the organisation, now you know the users’ problems and challenges? The business impact should be agreed upon by managers and described in such a way that it could form a basis for design and testing with users. The last step of this phase is creating concepts and testing. How do all parts fit together in a form that makes users succeed, and generates the desired impact?
  3. Development
    The Development phase starts with building the most important parts, and continuously evaluating the solution and adjusting matters of detail. A delivery plan is used for building and delivering, and this plan might often change as work proceeds. An agile work method is preferred for design and development. Once the conceptual design is detailed and the acceptance criteria is defined, the team can start building and quality should be in line with the project owner’s approval. During this phase it is important to keep evaluating if the solution is delivering the desired impact.
  4. Improvement
    The intranet has now been created. During this phase, new parts of the intranet are launched and where you’ll start seeing the value the new intranet delivers. It’s necessary to keep listening to your users to make any improvements and evaluate how you are performing.

References:
The Intranet Book - handbook for intranet managers. Martin White, Mark Morrell, Sara Redin, Ingrid Domingues, Fredrik Wackå, Stephan Schillerwein, Maciej Płonka, Kevin Cody & Dan Jones, Nils-Erik Gustafsson, Oscar Berg, Joep van Loon & Christiaan Lustig, David Hobbs, Sam Marshall, Marcus Österberg

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