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Intranet

Take a small idea and run with it

Intranets can be unwieldy dynamic systems, with hidden depths and wide flatlands of undiscovered joy or horror. If, as the intranet manager, you’re at the end of your tether with the lacklustre technology, departmental adoption or the dearth of management support, my advice is to seek some small wins to bolster people’s perceptions of the intranet and your management of it.

Sure, that new recognition and reward programme that HR have been screaming for isn’t off the ground yet because the identity authentication process is screwed up and IT keep saying it’s got something to do with ‘Active Directory’ and ‘keys’, but don’t let that destroy your vision for the intranet. Don’t let these badly managed massive projects derail the continuous improvements your intranet’s roadmap lays out.

Seek the small; look for the easy wins that match your people’s personalities

Before thinking about bespoke development for massive solutions, look around and see if there’s an off-the-shelf widget or module for your intranet that can meet your basic needs. There’s no shame in browsing a list of widgets and then deciding you ought to have one! Yes, I’m against ‘whistles and bells’ but there’s nothing wrong with implementing attractive features on your intranet if you can justify it by the end result.

What I’m saying, in a ‘round about fashion, is that rather than implementing no improvements this quarter simply because the budget won’t be approved for that thing head office want, you should implement some small, meaningful improvements that your people can get their hands on. Focus on immediate benefits; focus on people’s online habits. Think about the feedback you’ve received over the last year; think about all those ‘wish lists’ that people talk about when they discuss their work. Don’t seek perfection; perfection kills good concepts. What small idea can you realise that will get people talking about the intranet?

Small improvements can have big effects. Imagine if you spend 30 hours on task analysis exercises, where you ask people to perform some specific tasks on the intranet and watch / record there actions. You’ll learn how convoluted people’s clicks are when they’re trying to do something new online, and so you’ll be able to reduce those clicks my clarifying your navigation or creating some new links / reducing links. Imagine if you spent £1000 on refining the look n feel of your intranet, not so that it looks cooler, but so that the design of the intranet improves the usability of the intranet by (perhaps) increasing the contrast of content or content areas?

Or, what if you took it upon yourself to always always always have the restaurant menu online and up-to-date without fail? Or numbers and menus for the local sandwich shops. Or car park details. Or the lottery, or football (not my bag; like the weather, I feel the web does these jobs).

Whatever your people would appreciate, do. It really doesn’t have to be a big thing; the big things are expected. That’s just business. It’s the little things that people fall in love with.

What’s your little idea that could transform your intranet?

[Wedge]

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About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.