4 steps to make your intranet a strategic asset

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Intranets are usually conceived as a quick and convenient way to share documents. They're not typically seen as tools to improve employee retention, drive business growth, or find opportunities for innovation.

That's not to say these things aren't possible, though. Implemented correctly, an intranet can be more than just a tactical must-have, but a real strategic asset for your company.

About to get started on a new implementation project? Here are four steps you can follow to deliver a finished product that supports your long-term plans as a business.

1. Know what you're trying to achieve

Don't wade into the process of intranet design with just a few hazy ideas of what you think might be useful – a human resources portal, for example, or a private social network. Instead, identify any business goals that could conceivably be supported by a quality intranet.

Examples could include a desire for your company to be more innovative, to develop a stronger culture of collaboration between employees and departments, to reduce staff churn, to improve process efficiency, and so on.

2. Map these goals to intranet capabilities

Next, identify how your intranet might help you in your pursuit of these ends. Be aware this isn't always as simple as it sounds – the mere presence of collaboration tools won't necessarily prompt workers to depart from their old ways and begin to band together, for example. Start with the end user need, and then determine which features and capabilities will bridge the gap.

3. Engage the workforce

It may sound obvious, but if your intranet is going to make a strategic contribution to your business, you're going to need to get your employees to buy in to that vision. Give them an opportunity not only to explain their needs, but also to share their own ideas. Moreover, be sure to provide adequate training on new features, policies and processes.

4. Monitor, review and improve

Finally, know that a successful intranet is a living thing, and never is that more important than when you're trying to use it to drive long-term business growth and innovation. Measure the overall performance of your intranet with business-focused KPIs, and use analytics software to monitor pageviews, engagement and traffic flows. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be able to drive continuous improvement.

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