When’s the last time you really measured whether your employees find value in the company intranet? Often, intranets are rolled out across enterprises and only updated as necessary — for instance, when the vendor forces you to upgrade to a new version. But in order to realize the full advantages of an intranet, companies should invest in regularly reviewing the user experience and incorporating employee feedback for improvements.
Intranet teams often track metrics such as the number of users that log in every day, or the number of posts that have been made. This data can be useful, but looking purely at numbers that focus on volume isn’t enough to give you a full picture of whether your users are engaged.
If you have an intranet that you’re considering updating, these four questions can help you quickly assess whether your current intranet is an effective tool for your employees, or if the user experience needs a renovation.
Before You Start…
It’s helpful to first jot down what you expect the answers to be for each of these questions. Intranets should be user-centric, but in reality, many older systems have been defined by software limitations or company requirements. Modernizing your system means that you first have to get on the same page as your users. If you go through these questions and realize the answers are far from what you expected, then your first task will be to spend time talking with employees and understanding what they need.
Four Quick Questions to Assess Your Intranet
- Do your users log in every day? Whether it’s to check the company news or to dive back into a collaborative project, a daily visit to the intranet confirms a basic level of engagement. Again, try to predict the percentage of users that log in daily before getting a report of the numbers. This will help you understand how in tune you are with your users.
This is part of a larger question: does your intranet enable users to do their jobs? Are they able to find the information they need to be successful? If your intranet empowers users to do their jobs well, then you can expect a high volume of users logging in every day. However, if it hinders their ability to perform well, then expect that number to diminish.
- Do your users post, comment or interact some other way regularly? Intranets need their own momentum, fueled by user-generated content. The best intranets thrive even without content from the managing team (whether that’s someone in HR or a specific intranet manager). For this question, you shouldn’t expect every user to make a new post every day. The goal here is consistency, not volume. If you see spikes of content around company events, with valleys of no content in between, then you should ask why users aren’t posting more regularly.
- Does it draw users from all departments? If you break out active users by department, you should see an even spread across the organization. In the past, intranets were sometimes isolated by team, but modern intranets are increasingly accessible to everyone within the company. Ensuring that every department is using the intranet helps with company-wide communication, encouraging a culture of collaboration. It also makes it easier for employees to contact other departments, even if they don’t personally know anyone on the team.
- How many processes are completed with external tools? Whether it's collaboration, documentation or some other common business process, your team probably uses external tools to get some tasks done. This is only a concern if you’ve built the same functionality into your intranet. If your employees choose to use an external tool rather than what you’ve provided, something in the user experience must be falling short, and could be a good place to start your improvement plans.
Improvement Starts With Knowing Where You Stand
All intranets can be improved, especially as user needs and expectations continue to evolve. At the beginning of the measurement process, it’s critical to have a crystal-clear picture of where you already stand, so that you don’t waste resources on features that don’t impact user experience.
Knowing where your intranet falls short is a good launching pad to start enhancing your intranet solution. For example, Genworth, a leading insurance holding company, recognized that their intranet was in need of an update. The previous iteration was not user-friendly and made it difficult for employees to publish any updates. Knowing this, they prioritized integrating self-service features, implementing a modern look and feel and combining hundreds of sites together into one platform to allow the organization to operate efficiently.
Answer the four questions we've posed above to get a better sense of where your intranet solution stands. Are your users logging in to use the tool everyday? Does it provide value to your employees and empower them to work well and communicate through the entire organization? What improvements need to be made so that your employees can have a valuable and useful tool on their hands?
This article was originally published in 2017 but has been updated in 2019 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.