The development (or redesign) of an intranet cannot be outsourced. The skills and knowledge must be retained within the intranet team, to ensure they are able to make the ongoing improvements needed to adapt the intranet to the ever-changing business environment. More

Each issue of INTRANETS includes: Feature Articles offering case studies and other in-depth analysis of intranet, extranet, portal, or other KM initiatives, strategies, and tools, News and Tools to help you get the job done, Columns written by a worldwide group of consultants who offer hands-on insight Recommended Reading--both digital and print .. more

The Intranet Benchmarking Forum is the world's leading confidential, members only intranet and portal benchmarking group. Founded in 2002, IBF is restricted to Global 200 (IBF Global) and FT 100 (IBF 100) organizations. IBF drives forward the intranet management, performance and best practice of IBF Member intranets. More

Many builders of application packages for intranets fall into the trap of assuming that their application becomes the center of any interaction that uses it. This ignores the idea the user and their perceptions should actually be the focus. The truth is that many application designers have had to overcome a number of difficulties when it comes to building things for the web. More

Intranet Strategies


Definition: An Intranet is a computer network open to users within an organisation. Intranet strategies refer to the planned deployment of an intranet in such a way as to achieve one or more pre-defined organisational objectives.

Intranets

In recent years it has become the norm for all employees to have access to a computer (or, if a personal computer is impractical or unnecessary, access to a shared computer). Since the majority of enterprises employ e-mail as a method of communication both within the organisation and between employees, clients and customers it has also become de rigueur to provide these desktop computers with access to the Internet.

Intranet strategiesThis improvement in IT infrastructure has led enterprises to develop their own internal intranets, allowing employees access to secure information both on-site and remotely. However, it is all too often the case that enterprises do not follow any strategy in the implementation of their intranet and thus fail to exploit its full capabilities. 

Why have a "strategy"?

Defining what the organisation hopes to achieve from the intranet allows for proper estimation of costs and budgets.

Involving other departments in the planning makes for a more effective implementation, and one in which the rest of the workforce has bought into.

Proper planning of the implementation will allow for phasing out of existing systems (to avoid duplication).

Company growth needs to be factored in to avoid lack of scalability hampering expansion.

Defining control: Without a strategy (and control) the quality of content on the intranet cannot be maintained.

Intranet implementation needs to meet legislative conditions - including on accessibility - and this needs to be planned for. (legal issues - pdf)

Without an information audit and proper architecture design it's almost impossible to make informed choices on variables like the content management software to be used.

Without a strategy in place it's impossible to measure whether the intranet is living up to the organisation's expectations.

The strategy itself

The component parts of an effective strategy address the Content, Technology and Governance. Included in there are decisions to be made on standards, ownership (which department owns the intranet), security (e.g., data protection) and promoting the use of the intranet within the organisation.

What the intranet does (a background)

Knowledge Management: Organisations can benefit greatly by providing all of their employees access to a wide range of information, even if the information is only of regular use to a small portion of the workforce. By using an enterprise Intranet as an information portal, employees can gain access to useful information of which they may have previously been unaware. Access to such information can increase productivity, improve decision making and reduce the need to reproduce information each time it is required. Such information can include, but is not limited to, statistical data, vendor information and policy documents.

Intranet planningEssentially, using the Intranet as a knowledge management portal enables an enterprise to create an easily accessible repository of all the knowledge held within the enterprise.

Collaboration and Communication: In large organisations, and especially in decentralised organisations such as multi-nationals, an Intranet can be extremely useful as a way of allowing departments and employees to collaborate effectively and communicate important business information efficiently.

Ideally, an enterprise Intranet will supply a database of contact details for all members of the enterprise, allowing instant communications to be sent between departments and employees regardless of physical proximity. By enabling fast and efficient inter-office communication, an Intranet should assist in increasing efficiency and allow the knowledge held within an organisation to be shared for the benefit of everyone within the organisation.

Task Completion:As well as using an Intranet to access or communicate knowledge and ideas it can also be useful as a portal by which members of an organisation can achieve goals and take action.

In every organisation, and especially in large ones, the time and effort involved in arranging the paperwork to manage human resources can be a major drain on resources and manpower. Fortunately, an Intranet can be used to devolve this responsibility to each individual employee. When every member of an organisation has access to an Intranet it becomes possible, and even beneficial, to allow them to complete administrative paperwork for instance, time sheets, holiday requests and pension scheme contribution paperwork.

Delegating responsibility for personal paperwork to employees through an Intranet reduces the difficulties inherent in managing a large, decentralised workforce from a central human resources department, thus reducing HR costs and streamlining the administration of the business.

In addition to human resources task completion, an Intranet can also be developed to allow employees easy access to personal and professional development. By placing development courses in business related disciplines at their fingertips it becomes much more likely that an employee will choose to develop their professional skills.

Conclusion

While it may seem as if developing and maintaining an Intranet would be a costly and pointless exercise, in reality they can play a major role in advancing the goals of an organisation (and can also be simple to develop).

* Through knowledge management they can place the know how of the organisation as a whole instantly at the fingertips of each employee; * Through collaboration and communication they can allow members of the organisation to effectively communicate knowledge and concepts to each other; * Through task completion they can both reduce the burden of human resources staff and give employees the opportunity to better themselves, resulting in a net gain both to themselves and to the organisation as a whole.