I’ve just finished another two days of work with the Area Health Service, and I’m back in Sydney. The review of existing documentation and reports is now complete, as is the expert review of the current intranet.
Overall, the current intranet scored high marks. It is consistent, fairly well structured, and the majority of the content is well-written and to-the-point. There is a lot of good information on this intranet.
And yet, looking at the web usage statistics, it is clear that the intranet is not being used by most staff. The question is: why?
Unlike most intranets, it’s not due to a lack of promotion or training. The intranet is run by the Public Affairs group, which has a strong grasp of the human and communication issues.
Certainly, lack of time is a critical factor. Most of the staff, especially the clinicians (doctors, nurses, etc) have very little time to browse the intranet. Another issue is lack of access. At present, there are only about 2500 networked PCs for a staff of 9000, and this particularly impacts upon the non-management groups (again, nurses are a good example).
Based on my reviews so far, and the discussions with the intranet team, we have developed a provisional strategy for refocusing the intranet to increase usage:
- Provide news and communication
At present, the intranet is a repository for information, which while valuable, does not encourage repeat visits. By using the intranet as a platform for news and person-to-person communication (such as discussion groups), the intranet gains a new focus, and the flood of corporate e-mails is reduced.
- Focus on tasks
At present, the intranet is not a place to “do things”, instead it is only a source of reading materials. The intranet must become a “better way to do things” if it is to be successful in the long-term.
- Restructure along processes and subjects
While there is considerable information on the intranet, it is grouped acording to organisational unit. By restructuring this to match business processes, and general subjects, the intranet can be made more “user focused”.
It has certainly become clear that the issues and challenges facing the Area Health Service are very different to that in a normal corporate environment. The lack of universal access to PCs alone makes it much bigger than just an “intranet” problem.
What will be interesting is what will come out of the stakeholder interviews and usability testing, and what strategy changes will result.