Why intranets fail

Why intranets fail

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of webinars and masterclasses on how to implement and develop successful intranets. Many of them seem useful, although others provide only a superficial look at what this tool is really about. But, beyond that, I haven’t found any resources that explain why intranets fail. And, as important as doing it right is, I know that learning from the mistakes of others is equally crucial.

That’s why I’m sharing what I’ve learned from previous working experiences with intranets, so hopefully, people can avoid the pitfalls and benefit from the full potential of intranets.

Not choosing a flexible platform

There’s nothing worse than wanting to implement a great idea and being limited by the system. Some functionalities can be replaced by others, but there are a few that could bring big impact to an organization and need to serve their own purpose, no matter the platform being used. Since you know your organization, you are aware of the pace of innovation within the company, and which tool would best suit its needs.

Not sharing vital materials  

As much as we wish they did, many people just don’t go to the intranet, even though it’s a well-thought-out tool with interesting information. However, at first, many employees don’t see it this way. To create the habit, employees must find the intranet useful. If they can use it to download pay slips, review the vacation policy, review operating plans, and print insurance forms, using the intranet will become a habit. Only then will they discover the awesome content you have been producing for them.

Not publishing the right content for your audience

Usually, in multinational companies, there is a centralized intranet page with global information and other pages or sections for each country, region or geographical area. However, it almost doesn’t matter how useful your intranet is, people will lose interest if they’re only seeing news from the corporate headquarters on the global page. Balance is required on all pages, and each location is important, even if it only has a small team or is located far away. Also, never assume that what’s important for one group of people will be relevant for the whole organization.

Not updating on a timely manner

If we update the company’s social media accounts often, or if there is breaking news, we communicate this to external stakeholders immediately. So, why do we forget about our internal audiences? If we take too long to update the intranet, two things happen. First, chances are information will spread anyway, and it won’t be focused on the messages we think are important. Second, when people see the same information on the intranet, again and again, they will stop visiting.

Not clearly defining roles

Whether you work in a small or big team, each person needs to know their role within the intranet ecosystem, and be accountable for its performance. Otherwise, it will all fall to one person and that’s unsustainable. Autonomy also plays a significant role and allows people to keep local pages up to date and the global page fed with relevant information from across the business.

I hope this will be useful to anyone setting up or running an intranet as part of your internal comms channels.

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