Things a good intranet manager does that have nothing to do with news or internal communications

 
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Most intranets are owned by or heavily influenced by the Internal Communications team. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can mean that the you’re disproportionately focused on the sections that matter most to them, such as corporate news. Having the Comms Director as a key stakeholder will mean there is pressure to help them meet their communication objectives by creating more or better looking news features, or freeing up space for corporate communications and news on the homepage.

Well, don’t fall into that trap.  Bad news features on a great intranet will always perform better than great news features on a bad intranet. Generally, employees don’t come to read news; they come to get things done or as part of their work.

With that in mind, here’s our list of things a good intranet manager should be doing, that have nothing to do with news or communications, aka “how to keep other stakeholders engaged, interested and happy with your intranet”

Look in

  • Check the 404s: Where are the broken links?  Find them and fix them, failing to do simple stuff like this can really damage peoples faith in the overall platform.
  • Measure and report against your stakeholders KPIs: Make is clear to the people who count how valuable the intranet is.  This is the only way to highlight problems and get funding for improvement.
  • Meet real users: The only way to understand the value of and problems with your intranet is by speaking to the people who actually use it.  As many of them, for as long as you can.  Its something that will never stop being a good use of your time. You’ll uncover ideas for improvements, get insights into whats really important (or not) and give you essential ammo to shoot down the inevitable awful ideas from other senior stakeholders.
  • Network with stakeholders: Know your stakeholders, and make sure they know you.  Having to prove everything can be exhausting, so having a relationship where you can be honest and have your opinion trusted is a huge advantage.
  • Maintain relationships with, train, educate and encourage, the content owners and publishers: These are the people who probably have the most influence over how successful your intranet is.  Nurture them.
  • Understand your users’ top tasks: Know what people are trying to do (guaranteed: reading your news won’t be on this list. If it is, you have a serious problem)
  • Complete the common tasks yourself to make sure you understand the issues personally: Once you know what people are trying to do, make sure you are as empathetic as you can be to performing those tasks.
  • Check site performance (speed, load time, availability) and talk to your IT team or vendor about making the site faster: People are used to good sites being super fast.  Plus, every second someone is waiting for a page to load is a second they’re not doing productive work.  Be friends with your IT team / vendor – the problem isn’t necessarily with them but they can help identify where the issues really exist (most likely with bloated, unoptimised content – time to go speak to the content owners again!)
  • Network with other intranet managers from other companies: It’s usually a lonely job.  Sharing your experiences is always therapeutic and regularly a way to solve complex problems quickly
  • Look up: With the endless talk list and constant requests you can feel like you need to keep your head down and keep working every second you get.  Take some time to look up and take in what’s going on around around you can.

Look forward

  • Maintain your today, next week, next month, next quarter incremental development lists: Know what you’re doing now and what you plan to do in the not so distant future.  Communicate this stuff, request and accept feedback and have a way to rigorously assess if these are the right things, in the right order.
  • Maintain a qualified list of top tasks and performance against them: Use your research to ensure you’re improving things.  Know that you’re addressing the biggest problems for the most people.
  • Maintain a meaningful strategy. Including a short term technical view of objectives (the five things you’re doing in the next six months): Consider this is your justification for existing.  What you’re doing, when, why and how and who it will help.  Show it to anyone who questions the worth of the intranet or you and your team.
  • Develop and maintain a risk register for the intranet: You rarely get everything you want or need, so there will always be imperfect aspects to you, your team, platform, stakeholders, suppliers, relationships or content. Record them all and highlight the impact, probability and proximity of the risk becoming an issue.  At best it will get you support you need to prevent a risk from materialising. At worst it will give you the satisfaction of saying “I told you so”.

Do

  • Develop and implement improvements to search and findability: Check what is being searched for, whether people are finding what they should be, and make improvements by: removing bad content, creating non existent content, search tweaks
  • Act on the feedback: When things are not working take steps to fix them. Is this suggestion too obvious? We hope so
  • Flag waving: Make sure the people who need to know about the intranet are communicated too. Ensure they know whats working and what isn’t. Where there are risks, complaints, gaps or emerging needs

Look back

  • Shout about successes: Find out what value your intranet delivers for the company and make sure people hear about it. This is how you get investment to make further improvements. It’s also how your can ensure your own role is valued. Especially if you work in comms.

We hope this has given you some ideas for ways to improve your intranet and keep your stakeholders happy. If you’ve got any other suggestions, let us know in the comments below.

 

 

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