Filed under: Intranets
Each year after the holiday break, staff start returning to work in dribs and drabs. As the workforce slowly returns to full strength, it’s a good time for contemplation and planning for the year ahead.
This is particularly the case for intranet and digital workplace teams, who are generally too busy to get much chance to conduct proactive planning. Refreshed by the Christmas holidays, it’s good to ask the question: where to start on making the intranet or digital workplace better?
If the year can be started on the front foot, there’s every chance that the rest of the year will continue to be productive.
Here are four ideas for working out where to start:
- Spend a week away from your desk
- List the top five intranet bugs and problems
- Write a strategy and plan
- Get your team ready for the busy year ahead
Spend a week away from your desk
Great intranets and digital workplaces meet the needs of workforce, beyond just looking for the occasional policy document. The quiet time at the start of the year is the ideal time to conduct some informal research, with staff and stakeholders across the organisation.
Give yourself the challenge: don’t sit at your desk for an entire week.
Instead, with coffee cup and laptop in hand, spend the time having intranet and digital workplace discussions at other people’s desks. At least half the time should be spent with end-users, and whatever you do, don’t ask them what they want! Instead, use a more open form of intranet needs analysis, exploring how staff work, and what their unmet needs are.
The rest of the time should be spent at the desks of intranet stakeholders, including authors, content owners, site managers and senior stakeholders. This should explore both the practicalities of creating and managing content, as well as what’s happening organisationally in the year ahead.
We guarantee that you’ll be bubbling with ideas and inspiration after a week of talk with folks across the business.
It’s also an ideal way of experiencing the digital workplace in practice. How easy was it to work away from your desk, and what could be done to better support mobile workers?
List the top five intranet bugs and problems
We’ve often said that broken intranets consist of many small problems, rather than just a few big ones. Find a quiet space, bring the team together, and brainstorm a list of all the bugs, issues and problems with the current intranet.
Have the intranet in front of you, and look at the site with fresh eyes. In less than an hour, it should be easy to come up with a long list.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of sticky notes on the wall! While it’s good to have a long list of to-do’s, the task is now to pick the top five bugs and problems.
Ask yourself the question: fixing which issue(s) would be applauded by staff or publishers?
The key is to choose issues that are tangible and visible, not behind-the-scenes problems. That way the team gains credibility and kudos for the fixes, as well as the political capital that goes with it.
Once you’ve fixed a few problems, keep going! Taking a task-by-task approach, a lot of enhancements can be done over the coming year.
Write a strategy and plan
- where you’ve been
- what you’re doing now
- what’s next after that
Now in practice, this may be written up in a substantial strategy document, or written on a napkin. Either approach works, as long as it gives a clear plan for the year ahead.
The hard thing can be to go beyond lofty ambitions (“Improve knowledge sharing across the organisation”) to nail down exactly what activities will be done, and why.
This is where the 6×2 methodology comes into its own. It’s a super-practical way of planning in six-month periods, focusing on criteria (why would we pick something?) and constraints (what will prevent us from delivering?).
Set yourself the challenge to have an intranet strategy or plan written up by the end of January.
Get your team ready for the busy year ahead
If last year felt like a non-stop rush: what can you do to make this year more manageable? A lot will come down to how your time (and that of your team’s) is managed. The smaller the team, the more vital it is to have a good handle on the day-to-day workload of running an intranet.
At the start of the year, it’s useful to step back, and to decide on how the intranet team should be spending it’s time. What proportion should be spent on business-as-usual, versus improving the site?
There are also practical ways of managing the workload of the intranet team, such as establishing a simple task request system for stakeholders to use. If this can be established in January, the team instantly has a structured list of activities to work through during the rest of the year. At the end of the year, you’ll also be able to show how many improvements and fixes were completed by the team.
Start well, and the year sorts itself out
The most important thing is not having an perfect intranet, but rather that the intranet is constantly moving and improving.
Of course, January is just the start of the year’s journey. Get further inspiration from Five ways to sustain intranet success, and keep up the good work!