Filed under: Intranets
In recent projects, we’ve been doing a lot of work relating to what Jane McConnell calls the global-local challenge of intranets. In any large organisations, there will be many different business units, with different needs. Individual staff across the organisation will also need specific tools and information.
The challenge is to meet global needs (corporate communications, top-level strategy, culture), while also meeting varying local needs. There is no one-size fits all solution to this. Jane has published some great models, and we’re now doing some more detailed work around strategic and IA approaches to the issue.
Take one of our current clients as a case in point.
Global-local in a government agency
This is a mid-sized government agency, formed some time back by a merger of previous agencies. The result was a core agency, with a number of semi-independent elements under the overall structure. Each of the previous organisations had an intranet, although not all were in a good shape.
Work has been done on the top-level corporate intranet, but our project is with one of the semi-independent business units. Their intranet had decayed over the last years, and the goal was now to revitalise it. Our research showed that there was a very real (and very important) need, and we’ve made a number of recommendations.
Now comes the part when we address the information architecture issues. In discussions with our client, we sketched out two high-level approaches:
In this approach, the corporate intranet remains as the default homepage for the whole organisation.A link is made to the local intranet, where business unit specific information can be obtained.
(This is more-or-less the current situation.)
- strengthens the global homepage, and global news
- consolidates into a single entry point for the whole organisation
- provides quick access to corporate resources (HR, finance, etc)
- hides access to local resources
- provides a poor solution for meeting local needs
- doesn’t offer a good home for local news
- impacts on usage of the local intranet
In this approach, the business unit intranet becomes the default homepage for staff within that area. Links are then made to the organisation-wide policies and procedures (HR) on the corporate intranet.
- provides a homepage tailored to the needs of the business area
- provides a clear home for local news
- addresses business unit needs not covered by corporate intranet
- builds local cultural identity and branding
- reduces traffic to the corporate homepage
- weakens the effectiveness of the corporate homepage as a news channel
- makes it harder to deliver corporate news and information?
- requires extensive linking to the corporate intranet (which could be confusing for users)
- impacts on the desired “one organisation” culture?
We’ve looked at this issue in previous projects, including at a major Australian bank and a local arm of a corporate multinational. We’re starting to build out a “toolkit” of possible approaches, and this is steadily evolving and refining.
But before I share our ideas, what are your thoughts on how to tackle the situation outlined above?