A great intranet is a huge asset for any organization. It is a central place for collaboration, communication, and information. Yet, many intranets either do not realize the strategic goals that led to their implementation or fail outright. Understanding why intranets fail can help you to avoid common mistakes and achieve success with your intranet.
Why Intranets Fail
In general, when intranets fail there is one big reason: they weren’t delivering value to the users. Organizations like to set ambitious goals for their new intranets. But all too often they do not grasp the processes and systems needed to achieve those goals. While ambitious goals should be set, the integrity of governance systems will decide whether you meet those goals or not.
Your intranet can offer a lot of excellent features that will be useful on paper. Yet, if the implementation is poor, users will not use those features as intended. Without users on your intranet, it will fail to deliver ROI (return on investment). This doesn’t mean that the implementation alone is responsible for failure. Get it right from the start. Select the right intranet for your needs. Set up integrations that are useful to your employees. Reorganize business processes around your intranet. Ensure all employees, especially executives, adopt the intranet. These factors can make or break the success of your intranet.
If your intranet is not delivering value to your users, they have no incentive to use it. In some cases, processes will adjust to work around a dysfunctional intranet rather than flow through a functional version of it. This worst-case scenario is avoidable. Understanding a few common mistakes will put you on the right path.
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Your Intranet
Although intranets can fail for a variety of reasons, there are several common mistakes that tend to precede failures. Although avoiding these mistakes won’t guarantee success, doing so will improve your chances:
- Not Understanding User Needs: The single most important part of introducing any new system to your workflow is understanding the unmet needs of your end-users. Everyday users and future system admins should have a say in platform choice, implementation timeline, and integrations. Remember, there may be many groups with distinct requirements.
- Not Consolidating Processes Around the Central Hub: If you are using an intranet, it should become a consolidated hub that enables easy organization and work. You need to update your processes and internal resources to include the intranet as a central access point. Otherwise, it will be on the fringe rather than a critical part of day-to-day work.
- Weak Information Organization: Organization is essential to achieving successful intranets. High-quality intranet solutions have excellent organizational tools and different hubs. Yet, these aren’t much use if you don’t take advantage of them. For help with this, the hubley customer success team can guide you on best practices.
- Outdated Information: Many organizations want to use intranets to serve as a sole source of information. Thus, the information needs to be up-to-date and accurate. It is important to engage team members in keeping the information updated.
- Lack of Ownership: In a similar vein, there should be people who take ownership of the intranet implementation, as well as governance after launch. This should be a cross-functional team that includes people focused on the technical elements, the processes, the content, and the functionality. Ideally, each major team or department that will have its own department site should have someone responsible for updating it.
- Not Running a Pilot: Piloting any new system is a promising idea. It gives you a chance to learn about what works and what doesn’t work. Piloting can be the difference between experiencing obstacles to success and outright failure. Intranets tend to be very scalable, so this is generally a straightforward process.
How To Have a Successful Intranet
Understanding why intranets fail is helpful for making sure yours is a success. But it doesn’t completely explore the characteristics of a successful intranet.
The key to a successful intranet is understanding your own strategic goals for the intranet. Understanding the goals, it will fulfill as well as the day-to-day tactical value it will deliver is a great starting point. For example, your strategic goal may be to centralize your organizational knowledge. For the end-users to realize this, they will need tools that make it easy to add information to pages and edit those pages. Search for content must be intuitive so employees can easily address shared questions. Naturally, your requirements are likely to be much more specific and comprehensive than those, but you should consider both layers of success.
Other goals for your intranet may include improving collaboration, making it easier to find specific teams and individuals, getting people more engaged with the company, and improving business processes. Whatever your goals may be, you need to create a plan that will both help achieve your goals and offer excellent usability for your team members.
With a clean goal, engaged project owners, good user experience, and clearly defined processes, your intranet will be on the path to success. If you choose hubley as your business’s intranet solution, we can help you to create a highly effective strategy.