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Your company intranet should ideally be the “home” and single platform for your employees to access all the tools and information they need to effectively perform their daily tasks quickly and easily. It should also be a collaborative space where they connect and share. As such, your intranet is your primary internal communication vehicle and should be a top priority to get right and working hard for you.

Not sure if your intranet is doing its job? Start by surveying your workforce to find out who uses it and why, what they need and are looking for in an intranet. Once you have insight into what they need to do their jobs, your next step is to create the right structure – the hierarchy of information in the form of a site map to show what sites you need and in what order. You’ll need to consider permission levels – what information is accessible to all employees and what needs to be secured.

Targeting is key – by targeting the sites, links and information employees see that relates directly to them takes your intranet from just working to really delivering value for employees and the organization.

The type of platform is important too and will steer the above decisions.  Microsoft’s SharePoint 2013 is fully integrated into Office 365 and is our platform of choice … and for many others including giants like Unilever, who have reportedly the biggest O365 intranet globally accessible by their 100 000 employees fully mobile enabled.

Pay special attention to your Home page. This is the first page employees see when accessing the intranet. For easy accessibility ensure it’s a single sign on system that is set as the default Home page for all users, so when they launch Internet Explorer or Chrome it’s the first thing they see.

Your Home page needs to be a dashboard providing one click access to what they need with feeds. We always recommend a carousel at the top of the page for most important announcements and advertising space for surveys or internal competitions.

Feeds and main tabs should include:

  1. Latest company events, announcements and news
  2. Outstanding tasks reminders
  3. New discussions notifications related to topics of their interest
  4. Quick links to company-wide actions such as application for leave, forms, bookings, contact directories, workflows and such.
  5. Quick links to sites they need to access targeted to their role and location e.g. a Supply Chain employee in Rotterdam should have links to their Global SC site, local or regional SC site (which may be a close site), Rotterdam site and any private Team Sites.

When planning your intranet remember it’s capabilities, especially if you’re using SharePoint, to streamline processes. Modern intranets contain not only static information, but the actual tools that employees use for work. This presents a great opportunity to use intranets as a place where companies can document processes, and provide the actual tools to automate processes. Many companies use intranets to automate anything from simple processes like employee appraisals to sophisticated processes like CRM and project management.

An intranet isn’t just a repository for tools, links and information.  It’s also your space for employees to collaborate and connect.  Build collaboration and social tools into your intranet to allow colleagues to comment, like, share and upload information to chats, discussion boards or on news stories. Networking tools allow employees to discover the skills and competencies of fellow workers and bypass corporate hierarchies to connect with them directly.

The structure and functionality are just the start to your intranet success.  Aesthetics is key to capture your audience. Work with an agency, like Blue Juice Design, who understand the platform they are designing for, know your company culture and objectives and design to add value. Intranet designs are not just pretty pictures. At Blue Juice, we have a dedicated SharePoint team who work with our designers to deliver mock-ups that are captivating and fully integrated with functionality.

Once you’ve got a great structure, fab graphics and functionality, next is creating a network to ensure ongoing updates actually happen, for example, creating a network of content contributors across the business functions and brands (if you’re FMCG) that keep you in the loop and feed through latest news and updates.

Lastly, you need to release your intranet to your workforce to own and maintain to keep it alive, relevant and working hard to deliver value. This is a step we’ve seen missed.  And we’re not writing ourselves out of ongoing work as an agency by adding this important step either. Quite the opposite… we maintain many intranet sites for teams.  The idea though, is to ensure employees have the power and ability to create their own Team/Collaboration Sites, can update news, create discussions and chat rooms and actually use the intranet to its full potential. It’s incredibly frustrating to see a great piece of technology put in place with a single agency controlling all updates and everything locked down. The entire thing comes to a grinding halt, employees become frustrated because they can’t use the intranet themselves and they end up creating external websites to meet their needs. That’s why I say we’re not ruling ourselves out. If employees can do enough to get the basics in place agencies like Blue Juice Design can help to give them sparkle with great graphics and ideas on how to enhance what they’ve already put into place.

It’s essential that a core team take overall responsibility for the running, structure and IT support of your intranet – this is usually shared between Communications and IT functions. The two work in tandem to merge effectiveness and business strategy with functionality … and when that happens right with great design magic happens!

Want us to help you with your intranet needs big or small? Connect with [email protected] 

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