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A good Intranet can be central to an organisation’s productivity. No longer seen as just an ‘internal website’, Intranets are now viewed as part of a modern workplace. It’s not just company notices that an Intranet can be used for – HR systems, business intelligence, collaborative projects, reporting and more. However, it can be common for them to fail.

Many companies have Intranets that simply aren’t efficient. The problems that come with an inefficient Intranet include low user numbers, potential security issues and increased numbers of unnecessary emails.

There are lots of reasons why an Intranet isn’t perfect, but as to why they fail completely is a culmination of primary reasons. Here’s a few we’ve seen in the past and how you can avoid a failure of an Intranet!

End users aren’t listened to – so user adoption isn’t successful

When developing a new Intranet, you may not want everyone in the company involved at every stage, however it’s important to keep people informed as much as possible and take feedback where you can. If you have an employee in charge of policy management and they’re finding that the new Intranet is useless for policy information then they won’t use it. Therefore, people won’t use it to find policies and you’ll be back to where you started.

It’s always breaking

Nothing works at 100% capacity 24/7, so maintenance breaks and general functionality problems can be expected. However, if it’s an all-too regular occurrence that your Intranet is down, people won’t feel keen about using it when it’s apparently working. It’ll be seen as an unreliable site that’s not worth people’s time.

No security or governance measures in place

If you have a lot of sensitive information on your Intranet (perhaps for managers only or HR) it’s imperative that you keep this information secure. If you use SharePoint for your Intranet, everything is in the Cloud, so there’s no chance of finding documents on an unsecured computer. There’s also the ability to have notifications sent to administrators when someone downloads a certain document from an Intranet site.

If an Intranet isn’t secure, it’s difficult for users to trust it and it also implies that the company isn’t serious about privacy or data management.

Out of date information

An Intranet isn’t just a noticeboard to overflow with company information. For an Intranet to be successful, attention needs to be paid to it on a regular basis. If something on there is out of date and/or irrelevant, then why is it still on there? Is it because nobody knows how take down notices or because users know that nobody looks at the information anyway?

It’s tempting to do a ‘scatter-gun’ approach and update an Intranet every month or so, but remember that users should be using the Intranet every day (if it’s a good one) and up to date, relevant information should always be available.

Nobody can find anything – and if they do, it’s a painstaking process

Terrible search functionality within an Intranet is a sure-fire way to get it to fail. Employees will visit an Intranet to look for a particular piece of information, and if it’s labour-intensive trying to find it then people won’t use it and you’ll have a decrease in productivity. How? Because people will instead be spending their time emailing around the company, looking for what they need. If you decide to use SharePoint for your Intranet, the search capability is second to none. You’ll be able to find documents that may have some of the strangest file names!

Users aren’t trained

This issue goes for end users as well as content producers. When a new platform is introduced to a company, the success of it doesn’t just depend on the general approval of it. Employees must be well trained on a new Intranet otherwise it won’t be used properly – and you won’t be much better off. If your current Intranet isn’t being used in the right way, chances are the users aren’t trained properly on how to use it best.

Sensitive information is shared and public information is hidden

This is not only a security issue, but also an issue that leads to an unreliable Intranet. If the wrong information is being issued company-wide, and nobody can find relevant information to them, then the Intranet is unlikely to be a success. On top of this, you can expect some very shaky security breaches within the company.

Nobody can see the purpose behind an Intranet

Many people know what an Intranet is, however in a company where the Intranet is seldom used (for many of the reasons above), it can be difficult for employees to see why they need it. Because of this, it can be difficult to make the bid for a new Intranet to senior management – so you need to realise where you’re going wrong and how your current Intranet isn’t functioning properly.

No value in your content

If the content on the Intranet I never read, chances are it’s because it lacks much quality or relevance. Content producers may not see publishing content to the Intranet as much of a priority – usually no content is better than terrible content.

A well-functioning Intranet can be at the heart of a business. You can do a lot more with an Intranet than you may think too – workflows, HR processes, reporting and more. If you go down the SharePoint route, you’ll be able to design and brand your Intranet how you like – plus you can mould it to your exact specifications in terms of functionality. Read more about that here.

Intranets fail for many reasons – but there’s no need to write it off altogether. The answer to the problem a lot of the time is to start from scratch and make sure you don’t fall into the same problems. A good Intranet will get you thanks from many employees in your company; productivity can sky-rocket and communication may see a big improvement.

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