Traditional intranet development has always focused on finding out what employees need via focus groups, interviews or surveys. I argue there's a better way.

Intranet development traditionally starts by finding out what employees need via focus groups, interviews and/or surveys. It sounds like a logical place to start no? The technique is also used in the implementation of other software tools.

I think there's a better way. The traditional approach has a number of shortcomings and is responsible for the poor state and lack of significant business impact of many intranets. Below is an alternative approach that delivers much better results in only a fraction of the time.

Why Employee Interviews Alone Fall Short

There are several areas where asking employees about their tasks and what they view as important deliver poor results.

  1. User Wants vs. User Needs

There is a difference between what people want and what people really need. Being able to identify the needs based on what employees want is not always guaranteed.

Chances of you receiving completely different feedback from two people who perform the same work, potentially in the same office, is very likely. This can be a result of seniority or an individual's ability to handle information.

Also, an employee that recently joined the company will highlight a more comprehensive set of needs in comparison with somebody that has been with the company for a longer period.

  1. Activity Duration

Trying to establish activity duration takes a lot of time and resources, both for the project team and the rest of the organization — time, perhaps best used for other tasks.

  1. Organization Complexity

The more complex the organization is, the more likely you will need to run more interviews with more people in order to identify their relevant tasks. Organizational complexity also increases the risk that you will miss some important topics.

  1. Needs Comprehensiveness and Bias vs. Frequent Tasks

Asking the employees what they need will only highlight what they think is important. Subjectivity and time constraints will limit the percentage of identified topics.

One of the main reasons why employees do not find information on the intranet is that people didn't think that specific topic was important during the intranet design phase. It simply wasn't high enough on their list of priorities.

If you want your mechanical watch to precisely indicate the time, all the components have to be in very good condition. If you forget to maintain one cog, chances are the entire mechanism will lose its precision. It is the same with a company: it all needs to work well, not just parts of it.

  1. Project Team Skills

You need experienced staff to manage this process, which involves being able to separate wants from needs when interviewing people. Consolidating all of the outcomes from the many interviews takes skills that are hard to find, and costly.

  1. Intranet Development Process

The traditional intranet development process identifies some needs, implements them, goes live, reviews the results and then later repeats the cycle. Typically, most of the needs went unidentified in the analysis phase of the project will have to wait until the next cycle.

This often leads to an intranet implementation that misses a great share of employee needs that didn't make the list.

A Better Approach to Establishing Intranet Needs

A simple concept outlines what information is needed for an intranet project: Whatever task an employee needs to perform inside the organization, that task is somebody’s internal service.

If you want to request time off, somebody in the HR department is responsible for managing that process. If you want to reimburse the expenses related to a business dinner, somebody in finance handles this exact task.

So instead of asking employees what tasks the intranet should help them with, you could ask who is providing internal services for other employees.


Citiți articolul colegului nostru Cristian SALANTI publicat pe CMSWire: 

Oferim sisteme de intranet operational care ajuta companiile sa devina mai flexibile si mai eficiente


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