Beginner’s Guide to an Intranet

Intranets are a great way for leadership and employees to have a channel other than email to communicate. Emails can become lost or overlooked. An intranet provides a centralized source for company information, tools and resources, with the added benefit of decluttering your inbox.

The setup process involves a systematic approach: IT vets the platform; a steering committee of key stakeholders should be convened to advance the development and launch; leadership identifies content leads for each department; training and workshops take place; content is created and migrated to the new platform; and a communications campaign should be launched for awareness. Several departments play pivotal roles in the set-up and management of an intranet. The IT department oversees the technical aspects, the communications team ensures that the content strategy is on track and department leads contribute to tailoring content to their specific areas.

An intranet’s content can encompass various elements, including HR-related, quality and risk-related documents such as policies and procedures, firm news and updates through announcements, internal and external events and job-related tools and resources. Additional content ideas include celebrating promotions, branded templates, onboarding material, etc. An intranet will help provide centralize content and streamline information within the firm.

Where to begin:

  • Identify the platform. Research and select the best platform that works for your organization and your budget. There are many platforms you can use. ServiceNow and SharePoint are just a couple of popular options. Being mobile-friendly paired with the ability to use breadcrumbs are recommended if the budget allows.
  • Involve all appropriate parties from the beginning. Bring in stakeholders early for ideas, feedback, etc., as this will help later with adoption. Key groups include HR, IT and Marketing. Involve other teams/individuals as you see fit.
  • Involve leadership from the beginning. Make sure leadership is on board with the approach and participate promoting usage.
  • Make sure content is engaging and effective. Employees will not want to utilize it otherwise.
  • Answer the question: What’s in it for them? If the intranet doesn’t offer benefits, your employees won’t use it. The ability to answer this question as you build the intranet will only aid you in your launch and roll-out.
  • Consider making the intranet open automatically when employees open their browser. This can help ensure consistent usage.

Things to consider:

  • Internal communications should send an “In Case You Missed It” email that aggregates news recently posted on the intranet. It should include headlines and hyperlinks only so that employees are enticed to go directly to the source. The objective is to get employees used to going to the intranet for firmwide news and events and gradually get them accustomed to this new platform vs emails.
  • Set goals and milestones. Key metrics revolve around user engagement, including how frequently employees use the platform, the content’s popularity and usefulness and collecting user feedback regarding their experience. Seeing how employees use the site, navigate and engage will be invaluable as you tweak the site and add more content. Make sure the platform you choose has accessible metrics to track what you are looking for.
  • Make sure it is organized. Ensure things are easy to find and employees can search the intranet for specific items.
  • Incentivize usage of the intranet as employees may be resistant to change at first.
  • Brand connectivity. Ensure it accurately reflects your brand from a visual identity standpoint and message/tone point of view (colors, images, typography).
  • The intranet should almost completely replace internal communication to reduce email overload. Any recurring internal newsletters, monthly communications, leadership updates, etc., should all be moved to the intranet.
  • Make it interactive. If visitors can like, comment and share content, it is more fun and engaging for them.

The key takeaway is that it takes a village. Content creation should be the responsibility of each individual area to ensure fresh and meaningful content for users. Ongoing training and support for content creators, either from the vendor or through monthly gatherings to discuss tips and challenges and plan ahead, is crucial. If you take these considerations under advisement, your company’s communication style improves and introduces an easy way to find resources in one centrally located place.

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