What is an intranet? An intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet technologies to securely share any part of an organization’s information or operational systems with its employees. (wikipedia)
Can you remember a time when the only reason that one would go to the company’s intranet was to find the number for HR or to print out a benefits form (that you would then FAX in to the Benefits Department)? Intranets have come a long way since then and are now considered the organization’s heart rather than just an unused appendage.
If your intranet is not the beating web heart of your organization, it may be that your intranet team does not yet know how to create an Intranet that will capture and keep the attention of what is, after all, a captive audience. Here are just a few ideas for creating an intranet that speaks to and engages the average employee.
First and foremost, you must utilize an easy to use and feature rich content management system (CMS) when creating your Intranet. This will give you personalization and collaboration tools that can be propagated to all of the mini sites on the Intranet. Additionally, it allows your users to become content managers instead of just content contributors.
2. Mimic the internet. Your organization’s employees are on the web quite a bit and have gotten used to certain forms of communication and website designs. Your Intranet should provide the same functionality, and should be just as easy to use as the internet.
3. Include collaboration tools such as Forums and Blogs with real content and engaging issues, and the ability to subscribe to conversations so that updates are delivered to the subscribers Inbox.
What if George, a consultant in England could post a question on the message board before leaving for the day, and come back to work in the morning to find it answered by Tim in Los Angeles, Juan in Mexico, and Laura in New York? George would be able to solve his end of day problem before he has his first cup of tea.
4. Create your own YouTube – but on a controlled and manageable scale. What if each department was able to create and upload videos for training, marketing, motivation, or just for fun (e.g. videos of events held for the recent United Way fundraising drive or the company outing to a local amusement park)?
5. Remember that dusty and not very up to date Employee directory? Turn it into a directory of profiles (think LinkedIn more than Facebook). Give each employee their own profile page where they can upload a photo, past and current accomplishments, video etc. Assign publishing rights only to content managers or intranet team members so that all content is monitored.
6. Make it Green – eliminate print and fax or print and mail documents by using a CMS to design online forms that can be filled in and stored in a database or emailed to the recipient.
7. If your company is a global entity then make sure that the language and content on your intranet sites is localized. A good CMS will provide this functionality for you so that an employee in America can read the China intranet pages and vice versa.
8. Save money and increase collaboration and personalization by adding a document library for each department as well as a My Documents component for each employee. They can then go directly to the documents which they use most often as well as share those documents with others.
9. Make it useful by including RSS feeds to relevant news sites. For example, the Marketing department would probably appreciate daily updates on marketing trends.
10. Add an internal news release component to keep everyone up to date on business trends, accomplishments, new hires etc.
11. Use iFrame components to provide easy access to other internal/external web sites your staff might be interested in or are required to use.