These days, almost every organization has an intranet, a website that provides information and, sometimes, business tools for employees. Many organizations’ intranets are decentralized, containing hundreds or thousands of files and documents, with inadequate organization, few guidelines for updating or removing information, and little attention paid to the strategic and cultural improvements that a well-run intranet could foster.
Since intranets are private, organizations do not have the ability to see one another’s intranets, and much of the information published about them is technical in nature. Organizations think they are alone in not having well-run intranets, and they do not have the ability to learn from one another.
In September 2003, Content Company released a white paper, “Intranets: Inside Worlds,” that aims to break down some of those barriers by serving as a benchmark for what exists and sharing some best practices and shared concerns.
Content Company interviewed 14 Chicago corporations, associations and nonprofit organizations with employee populations ranging in size from 42 to 275,000. Surprisingly, many of the basic issues were the same for all the organizations, and the larger companies or those with larger staffs and budgets did not necessarily have the better solutions.
We found that most intranets grew organically and were/are overseen by IT, rather than communications, HR or, ideally, a multidisciplinary intranet governance committee. At many organizations, senior management has little or no involvement in the intranet.
At some organizations, the intranet has evolved. We saw the beginnings of sophisticated models: centralized governance with decentralized publishing, and knowledge sharing via the intranet.
Organizations have similar challenges for their intranets: how to continue communicating with employees who don’t have frequent access to a computer, motivating employees to contribute to and use the intranet, moving beyond a “push” model of communicating with employees, developing new cultures that enable the sharing of knowledge (via the intranet and beyond), building a unified gateway to the information and software applications that employees need to do their jobs, and getting sufficient buy-in — and budget — for these efforts from senior management.
A governance council made up of senior-level managers would go a long way toward ensuring that an organization’s intranet is a strategic internal business and communication vehicle. But that remains ahead for most organizations.
For details, download Content Company’s intranet white paper.