Blog Insight

5 Reasons Your Intranet Is Failing (and How to Fix It)

Intranets have come a long way since their first incarnation in the 1990s, when they consisted of a single static page containing general information applicable to employees. Today, intranets have transformed into a work ecosystem that enables knowledge sharing, connects and engages employees, supports organizational culture, and reduces inefficiencies.

Why then is intranet adoption at an all-time low? Only 13% of employees use their intranet on a daily basis, and 31% of employees never do.(1) Intranets continue to be broken-down machines. Companies with robust intranets still struggle to engage and connect with employees. A recent poll by Gallup showed that 70% of US employees feel disengaged at work.(2) When Teradata asked if employees had access to the information they need to do their jobs well, a startling 73% of employees said that they didn’t.(3) These numbers reveal that organizations need to pay more attention to their intranets. Intranets should be designed to make employees feel less overwhelmed and more engaged.

To design the right intranet solution that meets your organizational goals, it is important to gain an understanding of the key challenges that inhibit the broader adoption of an organization’s intranet.

1. No Goal Alignment

A business’s goals and users’ goals often wage a war in the design (or redesign) of an intranet. Business stakeholders often see the intranet as an internal communications channel, but for employees, an intranet is also an efficiency tool that needs to simplify and automate important tasks, internal processes, and work practices. In a recent intranet project GLG worked on, for example, our business stakeholders wanted to use the intranet homepage as a front door to corporate news and stories. We conducted an employee survey that revealed that 80% of the employees prioritize access to productivity tools and functions over corporate news. If your intranet is purely focused on achieving business goals and lacks consideration of employees’ needs, it is sure to fail.

Key considerations:

  • Establish successful user-centric goals based on research that involves:
    • Conducting a thorough audit of your existing tools and applications.
    • Reviewing the current intranet’s analytics.
    • Conducting field studies and usability tests of current systems with employees.
    • Interviewing stakeholders to understand business needs.
  • Get management buy-in.
  • Keep the stakeholders involved in the design process.

2. Unclear Ownership and Governance

Surprisingly, many organizations still use the hub-and-spoke model of governance for intranets, where one individual or department (IT) is responsible for maintaining and making updates to the intranet. This model reduces the speed with which important information can be shared. Content is not kept up to date and does not reflect the organization’s needs.

Key considerations:

  • Adopt a federated administration model, where the organization identifies domain experts across departments to maintain and administer the intranet. This approach will improve engagement across the board and encourage constant communication between departments.
  • Establish goals, roles and responsibilities, and administration processes up front.
  • The governance committee must involve a core group of members from IT, HR, communications, and compliance, as well as the CEO.

3. Missing Content Strategy

Companies are often tempted to migrate existing content over to the new intranet. It is important to remember that employees lose interest in intranets when content is outdated and irrelevant. The challenge for organizations is to keep the content fresh and curated at all times.

Key considerations:

  • Conduct a thorough content audit and determine which content to keep, edit, or remove.
  • Align departments on the goals of the intranet to prevent it from being blasted with tons of irrelevant information. Develop a content strategy that is in line with the intranet’s purpose.
  • Personalize content based on the audience’s needs.
  • Monitor intranet use to understand what content is being used and what content is needed.
  • Encourage content owners to keep content fresh and relevant.

4. Lack of Design Templates

All employees and teams have a need to create their own pages or team spaces on the intranet that let them share information with one another. When this is not possible on a corporate intranet, employees create their own team spaces outside the intranet. This leads to stale and duplicate content, making it difficult for employees to know which information is accurate. These pages lack design consistency, compelling employees to waste time looking for menus and pages they need to get their work done.

Key considerations:

  • Create and offer brand-compliant, design-consistent templates that can be used by anyone at your organization to create pages that are part of both the intranet and its taxonomy, information architecture (IA), tagging, and search.
  • Adopt a centrally managed link structure that is accessible from the global navigation and search.
  • Add the ability to hook these pages and team spaces into the analytics platform to monitor their use.

5. Not Mobile-Friendly

Employees today have flexible work schedules. Organizations have teams that are spread across continents and require quick access to important intranet content on the go. When organizations fail to provide a responsive intranet, employees turn to their own mobile apps for help. That said, there are a few constraints that need to be considered in the design of mobile intranets: some legacy applications are linked to from desktop and may not work on mobile, and additional security authentication may lead to frustration and prevent users from using the intranet.

Key considerations:

  • Adopt a practical, realistic approach for mobile intranet design that works for your organization. Some companies have embraced a responsive approach, while others prefer a tailored, more streamlined version of their intranet.
  • Plan for mobile from the start so you can optimize the user experience for all targeted devices.
  • Prioritize and test features throughout the design process.
  • Conduct usability tests for the mobile experience along with the desktop experience.

Conclusion

Organizations should focus on establishing unified goals with a well-thought-out content strategy, a consistent design language, and a seamless user experience. An intranet development effort is an ongoing process that requires organizations to develop a sustainable governance and management structure to support it in a thoughtful manner.

Want to learn more?

If you need help with your intranet redesign, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

1. Hester Gras, “Why Enterprise Apps Are More Effective Than the Intranet,” ORTEC website, May 23, 2014, https://www.orteccommunications.com/why-enterprise-app-work-better-than-the-intranet/.

2. Amy Adkins, “Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014,” Gallup website, January 25, 2015, https://news.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx.

3. “Global Survey: Analytic Insights Remain Trapped in Complexity and Bottlenecks,” press release, Teradata website, October 15, 2018, https://www.teradata.com/Press-Releases/2018/Global-Survey-Analytic-Insights-Remain-Trapp.