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What employees really need from our intranet

Following the advice from James Robertson (@s2djames) in his book “What every intranet team should know“, I have conducted interviews with 11 of my co-workers to find what they really need from our intranet. So, instead of asking them “Which features would you want?” resulting in answers like “a feature like Apple’s Genius”, we spoke about what they do daily, where the challenges lie, and how those could be dealt with. Many answers had nothing to do with our intranet, while others did (summarized below). This proved to be a great way to see if our intranet can make the daily work smoother.

Here are the major intranet subjects all 11 gathered around. Some of them can be matched to things we already plan, some are already around without people knowing it (the wonderful challenge of internal communications) while others need to be developed further.

  • Who knows what, and has which experiences?
    Our company is growing quickly and it is harder now to know who knows what. People just want to search for a subject, a competence, an experience and see a clear image of who does what. This includes current experiences and knowledge, as well as earlier work. And who is person X e-mailing me about this? Where in the organization is she, and what is her profession?
  • What did we do in project X, who did it, and what did it lead to?
    We already document what we do in the projects, but when growing, we need a central place to save this documentation, tagged with more than just the project name. “Here it is! You just needed to look for the Cinderella project…“.
  • What happens in project X, Y and Z now?
    Individual project managers already have the knowledge of what happens in their projects, but when there are hundreds of projects, how can a manager get a quick view of them all without meeting all the project managers every time?
  • How can I contact person X to ask a short question?
    People are tired of needing to e-mail each other for everything, resulting in full inboxes where things high and low gather. They want a global chat, where they see who is online, so they can reach out when needed for those short questions. Several chat platforms are already used, but it requires you to know a) which platform person X uses, b) what their cryptic log-in name is (“Ah! So, shetlandsheepdog76 is you?”).
  • Sorting what I want to listen to
    People want to see only what is relevant to them instead of more generic send-outs via mail or global news lists. The intranet should tell me what is new – I don’t want to look for it.

To most people working with intranets, this is nothing new under the sun. Meanwhile, the interviews were informative and refreshing. And I believe they are at the core of what people expect from a modern workplace. The answers create a framework for the future development of our intranet, along all the functions we in the team or the users already have asked for. Therefore, I can highly recommend others to do the same.

 

Comments 5

  1. Good results!

    Now it’s time to dig into the culture and working practices further…

    For example “what did we do in Project X” is a common requirement, but it’s a challenging one. People by default don’t think to update systems with project updates, as they’re often rushing on to the next project.

    So the research can tell you things like:

    * what are the points of pain that might motivate involvement
    * what cultural aspects will make it easy (or hard)
    * where in existing processes can there be “triggers” for the intranet to connect with
    * what intranet solutions are likely to see success
    * what stories can be used to highlight the need for change

    Cheers, James

  2. Thanks James. Yes, indeed, much work is left to do. It also connects to what Harold Jarche mentions regarding capturing knowledge in the organization: http://www.jarche.com/2012/10/it-starts-with-capturing-knowledge/. 

    The daily work with helping users should not get in the way of planning ahead and seeing the bigger picture, so any tips you can give regarding balancing digging in the ground and looking at the horizon, are most welcome.

    /Patrik

  3. Pingback: Does the potential in social intranets lie in Personal Knowledge Management? | A corn of wheat

  4. Pingback: Vad vill medarbetare ha ut av ett intranät?

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