Summary: You’ve just purchased an intranet – congratulations! So… what happens now? Intranet Connections will provide all the tools you need for an intranet that works for your organization; and with unlimited product support, you’ll know exactly how to use all the tools to customize things the way you want for your intranet launch.
Thanks to my role, I typically work with our customers after the sales process. I get to learn what features matter the most for them, as well talking through their current pain points and how to best leverage their intranet to alleviate them, however, the one topic common with many new customers is around the best practices of what to start with.
Many customers come to us with some type of vision and implementation plan – this can be something as small as a simple format of their homepage, or some key navigation categories that will help drive users to find what they’re looking for, but the most common question I encounter is ‘What should I start with?’.
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The Pillars of an Intranet Launch
The first step to a successful intranet launch is setting up the key pillars that will help your organization accomplish your intranet goals. This is a step that often stumps individuals who are new to setting up a company-wide software. Not to worry though! We’ve helped launch hundreds of intranets for various organizations, and although each organization needs on an individual level changes, we hear, providing unlimited product support to instruct you in detail, on how to use the tools you need to get your intranet off the ground, and customize it in a way that works for you.
The homepage is the first thing your users see when you first navigate to the intranet. This page should be engaging, clean and simple, and help the user find exactly what they’re looking for. Some core elements that help make up a good homepage are:
- Important updates – what do employees need to know, now?
- Visual – graphic items can help make the page look enticing to draw attention to specific things. Rather than a couple of named links, perhaps graphic icons or images that link the employee to specific areas (i.e. suggestion box to gain employee feedback)
- Hospitals have different color codes to address specific situations – try having a visual for each code that links to further details for employees to learn how to handle each situation effectively.
- Credit Unions typically have core areas like ‘Member Services’ or SOPs that need to be accessed frequently, either make this a navigation category (we’ll talk about that next), or a visual item that grabs their attention.
- Engagement – For your launch, this can be something as simple as a quick poll for each user to respond to and share their opinion (i.e. Help select a name for the intranet, feedback on the new intranet, etc.), contests to promote the launch of your new intranet.
I can’t stress enough how crucial navigation is. Navigation helps guide the employees to find the right document or material. When coming up with navigation categories, it’s important to recognize that they shouldn’t be too vague or long – employees may be looking for something in a hurry and spending a large amount of time trying to read through the navigation categories will have the opposite effect than what they’re going for.
In your focus group, come up with some categories, bounce ideas around the group to find where content will live within each category. Does the content make sense under each category? Is the category clear and quick to read?
Once you’ve implemented your navigation, have Pilot users test out your navigation:
- Were you able to find what you were looking for?
- How long did it take?
- Was the navigation category clear?
3. Employee Directory
In addition to documents being a one source of truth, another key use of an intranet is to bring people together. Larger companies especially struggle with this as they’ll have locations across many areas, or large department sizes. The employee directory helps bridge this gap as you can quickly find the person you’re looking for by name, or by department.
Employee photos help visually make your directory pop and stand out! A great way to leverage this is by adding an employee profile widget to your home page – you can feature employees (i.e. Employee of the month), or highlight new hires across your organization. As the employee profile is pulled from the directory, it’s quick and easy to pull in the employee’s information.
4. Documents and Policies
The main reason you likely opted for the intranet was that you had problems with employees finding the right document or the right version of that document – you’re looking for a source of truth. By having the documents reside directly on the intranet in their correct categories or location, you set the expectations of maintaining these documents and policies.
Within the Intranet, you can set up Review Dates assigned to each individual document or policy – depending on your internal processes, you may need to review these items each quarter, or yearly, to account for any changes made.
Policy changes can happen, and the importance of knowing that employees have read these policies is high on the list for many organizations. Within the intranet, you can push out quick nags to employees who haven’t yet read these policies, as well as report on who has/hasn’t read them. You can set up to 3 reminders for each policy at various intervals – this helps remind the employee either by email, site notification, or both that they still have something that they need to read.
You can also add a widget to your homepage which will only appear when the employee has something that requires their attention. Other ways you can use this widget could be for simple things like lunch and learns where the employee needs to provide their meal preferences (i.e. choose between options 1, 2 or 3).
5. Department or Team Sites
New customers often struggle with deciding on the best way to approach department and team sites. This can be organization specific depending on your needs, but best practices around this uses sites to compartmentalize. For example, if your human resources team needs a source of truth for maintaining policies, it makes more sense for them to own their own human resources department site; there, they can maintain all content and their page to suit their needs.
6. Forms (optional)
Since online forms can be complex depending on what you’re trying to do, forms may not be essential to launch with, however, it can be a huge ROI for many companies that currently struggle with paper forms and processes.
One example of this could be with regards to documenting a transaction with a customer (i.e. customer makes an account change), that transaction would then need to go through a few people before the change would be successfully completed. The workflow process of that form shows who submits the request, the people who have worked on it, and when it was completed.
Using Forms can also help simplify current processes – take time sheets for example. If payroll needs to know how your hours need to be distributed for each pay period, including any vacation or sick days, it can be captured through a form submission. The employee and payroll manager can go back to the form response to see all previously submitted time sheets in the case of any disputes.
Did we cover the core features that worked for your launch? What were some core features that made your intranet launch successful? We’d love to hear about them!