A good on-premises Intranet can help mitigate problems (hello, automation, version control, policy management!), I.e., it can help avoid things going wrong. Here’s a scenario many may be familiar with when it comes to an intranet that doesn’t get used enough!
Company X is a large insurer with offices around the UK and Europe. It embarked on an intranet deployment several years ago, and while that project was deemed a success, years have passed, and some bad practices have crept in. Blame a poor governance plan, as well as some general corner cutting and little regard for search. Unfortunately use of the Intranet has dropped significantly.
This is a problem as the Intranet was initially conceived as a tool to foster better comms across disparate offices – not to mention HR need to ensure policies are not only accessible but read too.
The main issues here:
- Poor use & bad practices/corner cutting
- Cross-communications suffer – employees feel a tad isolated/unrecognised
- Impact on HR and leaving the organisation vulnerable and potentially liable
- The Intranet has become a policy graveyard for outdated documents
- HR doesn’t have a way to record who has read the policies.
- Further down the line this will be an audit nightmare
- The perception of the Intranet is…well, in tatters
- These policies are really important! It’s frustrating that distribution is this difficult!
What we recommend (in a SharePoint On-Premises environment)
Poor use is a very common issue and one we’re familiar with in the SharePoint world. Best intentions are plentiful, but the realities of a “build it and they will come” mindset can impact the adoption and continued use of a company tool like an Intranet. Many companies don’t think to drive traffic (and continue to drive traffic) to their Intranet, and even more forget they still need to drive the user journey around the Intranet content itself, pointing users at the most important or useful content to make navigation easier.
If your SharePoint Intranet is suffering from poor use (and you can check user stats in the admin settings) then you don’t necessarily need to pull the plug and start again. Instead we recommend a health-check and a possible short workshop to get to the guts of “why is use declining/suffering?” From these types of engagements, the following areas can be identified:
- Information Architecture
- Governance (permissions and security)
- HR policy management
Recommendations for Information Architecture (On-Premises)
On-Premises has a different flexibility from the cloud; which means sharing and finding information easily is critical. Without suitable information architecture to bolster your on-premises environment, the platform will surely fail within the organisation. Here’s what we’d recommend:
- Align your site design with your document management principles – and be realistic! SharePoint is a brilliantly flexible platform; however, it does have limitations – there are only so many ways you can choose to display information to the business. We’d recommend that you account for limitations within the platform when redesigning your intranet – so that your site structure is optimised within its environment. – Site design is something we can help with!
- Have a robust process for content management and stick to it. When you get a new intranet, it can be tempting to want to upload all of your documents at once; but before you know it, you’ll be back at square one – nobody can find anything and the information they can locate is outdated. We’d recommend that you instil some basic information management policies within your organisation and enforce them.
- Utilise content types. Your intranet is the central hub of all necessary content – in various formats, for differing uses. Content types allow you to have a consistent SharePoint environment. If you have several departments needing similar site structures (i.e. for invoices or expenses) you can (and should) build a site architecture for this functionality, then be able to reuse it where needed. By doing this, you’ll be able to leverage some really great technology that exists in SharePoint – both maximising your investment in the platform and having a solid document management process to boot!