Growing companies that enter the cloud have found that to control the flow of information and filing of digital documents that they usually need some sort of intranet, private places within an organization geared to connect employees to shared information, processes and people. These companies often either use it as a strictly monitored resource or give employees the ability to collectively grow it into something that they enjoy using and engage with beyond merely document searches. Many companies have found that if they allow their intranet to be like a community pea patch, ideas sprout that they may have not had access to in a more restricted atmosphere. Here are a few things to consider when planning your intranet, especially in the areas of knowledge sharing, usability and user feedback.
Knowledge sharing is the main reason why we even bother with creating an intranet. Connecting employees and making it easy to find information is how we attempt to make employees more efficient. But putting documents up in a publically accessible folder seems to lack scalability and consistent employee contributions. So how can you increase engagement on your intranet?
Add branding. Employees are often overlooked as brand ambassadors. However, the people you hire are incredible influencers in their community. Providing a platform for employees to organically absorb brand attributes, values and personality will encourage your employees to repeat these key terms in public.
Distribute different types of content. Great intranets are full of content employees have a good time creating. Encourage employees to create a variety of content types like video, text, blogs, wikis and images. The employees who are passionate about a topic will find pride in creating top-notch content that can be safely distributed internally.
Identify content curators. Content can run wild without someone who is passionate about finding, grouping and sharing the most relevant information on a specific issue. Content curators are typically identified by their demonstrated advocacy for information sharing – meaning they will typically send emails with links to relevant articles, etc.
Usability is simply the idea of ease of use. You may have great content, identified processes, curators and a spectacular brand presence, but what’s the point if no one is going to use it.
Optimize for mobile. Focus on the features that will help when employees are out of the office and keep in mind the touch-based scenarios typically today on smartphones and tablet devices.
Design a task-centered user interface. Designing your intranet around specific tasks is the way to successfully delivering content to multiple facets of the organization. Take some time to figure out who is using the intranet and to what end. Start with the common tasks and build from there.
Search. Search is the mysterious white box in the top right-hand corner of the page that either gets it right or it doesn’t. Focusing on the quality of search will help employees use the intranet as a primary source for information. Some companies are even going so far as to display the search queries from other employees to help others access needed information faster.
Use a CMS. Make it easy for employees to update content and take the burden off your technical folks. SharePoint Online is a popular CMS system, which allows users to build profiles, team sites and corporate communications.
Enhance the effectiveness of information sharing with simple rewards for participation. A successful intranet is dependent on employee contribution, so it only makes sense to build a reward system for those who are making other people’s lives easier.
Encourage comments and ratings. Allow employees to rate content and provide comments. You can always sort information that is most accessed, but encourage employees to rate and comment on documents that they find useful. Don’t forget to make this easy to do via a mobile device.
Add badges and rewards. If you have the ability to add employee profiles, it can be simple to recognize employees for their contributions through badges and participation statistics. Most people feel a sense of pride in their work, so giving them a little recognition will go a long way in supporting your intranet goals.
Provide training. Everyone has difficult technical abilities, so it’s important to make sure everyone has a buddy to show them how to access the intranet and the basics around content participation. Having a CMS here will greatly reduce the ramp-up time needed to get everyone on board and sharing.
As you can see, by giving your employees the ability to understand and contribute to the company through a centralized workspace, you can increase efficiency, communication, and perhaps even boost morale. Your company’s transition into the cloud can not-only help the operations, but also create internal resources that add value on multiple levels.