Launching a new department or company-wide intranet can be daunting. Whether it be constraints on the IT side, budget, sliding dates or gaining executive buy-in, getting to launch can seem like a slow and winding road. And launch is just the start. A common misconception is “if we build it, they will come.” That is usually not the case, and if it is – count yourself amongst the lucky!
If you’re building a new intranet, you have lots of work to get done. Aside from the budgeting, strategy development and execution, executive communications, software selection, and other intranet planning activities, you need to build a site that employees will actually use. The more involved employees feel in the intranet process, the more ownership they can take over the success of the tool. One of the secrets to a thriving intranet launch is not just instructing employees about the new intranet.
Help them build an early emotional investment where they are excited about the possibilities of this new tool and a fresh way of working from the conception. While we do not have boxed services, some activities that we have found that include the community in the intranet process are journey mapping, observation, content audits, card sorting and task testing.
Include Employees From the Start
Observe Team Members Doing Their Daily Work
Workplace observation allows for real-world insights into the ins and outs of how individuals across the organization work, including the information and tools they use to do their jobs.
- Some may opt for participants to self-report, we have found that organizations that take the time to do this exercise gain much more realistic and raw information
- Doing this early on allows for the teams tasked with implementing the intranet to identify other internal tools that are used regularly across the enterprise that will need to be integrated into the intranet they select.
Interview Employees & Create Journey Maps
The best intranets are indispensable: without them, it is simply not possible to complete business-critical tasks. Journey mapping for intranets is a process for understanding these tasks, and then identifying opportunities to make them more efficient, pleasurable and profitable.
A journey map:
- Visually depicts an employee’s journey as he or she attempts to achieve a goal
- Displays a timeline of an employee’s experience including key touchpoints, (what the employee is feeling, thinking and doing) as well as opportunities and pain points
Conduct a Content Audit
Content audit and content inventory are synonymous. This exercise is one of the most critical for building an effective intranet, whether it is updating an existing tool or creating a new one.
- An exercise to catalog all pages, files and documents that currently exist on your intranet or on content repositories that you use throughout your organization
- Determines whether the content is worth adding to the new intranet, and also avoids doing a full content upload of documents or resources that are outdated or unused
I will not lie to you, this can be a time consuming process, so be sure to allow enough time (and bake in a few extra days) to provide plenty of support (and the caffeine of your choosing) to content owners who will be tasked with conducting the audit.
Conduct Card Sorting Activity
Card sorting helps the intranet team understand how employees group content in their minds. This is a standard and common process for involving employees in developing an intranet navigation, also known as the information architecture.
- Structured approach gathers employee input on how to organize information on your intranet.
- In-person card sorting may be shaped more like a workshop; this is more hands on.
- Online card sorting allows people to do it on their own time (during a specific window), allowing involvement from a large group of employees because there are no restrictions, like finding a hosting space or requiring travel.
Run Task Tests
Task testing and card sorting typically go hand in hand. Like intranet card sorting, task testing doubles as a user engagement opportunity.
- Evaluates the findability of content, lets you test how well a draft intranet navigation helps employees complete actual daily work tasks, and makes your final intranet intuitive
- Helps build a foundation for sustained intranet adoption
- Running testing online allows you to engage many users, including those geographically dispersed in remote locations.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to be able to easily find what they are looking for? Down the road, doing this testing also serves as a buffer if people inquire as to why a certain field is under the navigation or if they think something should be moved; these tests show that the majority felt it made sense in that particular location.
If you aim for sustained adoption of your new or newly refreshed intranet, then it is good to start with building one that is user friendly that helps employees easily find what they need. Involving employees and end users in (some or all) of the above processes makes the intranet launch (and beyond) much more likely to succeed across your organization.