As a consultant I get to see a lot of Intranets from organisations of all shapes and sizes. Some Intranets are new others were created years ago but regardless of the age, I often find the same common content issues. When we set out to create an Intranet we generally have similar vision, somewhere employees can find information that will help them do their job, save time and enable self service.
The content created for the Intranet should support the vision. Unfortunately, content can have a negative impact. Incomplete or incorrect content can result in people making wrong assumptions, spend unneccessary time searching for more detail or they may just give up in interrupt a colleague instead.
I like to think of this as a promise we make to the people who use the Intranet. If they search for something, we promise that they will find content that is correct and helpful. If it isn’t correct or there is something missing we will fix it in a timely fashion.
Image for a moment you are a manager wanting to hire a new person for your team. The Intranet has a Managers section with information for managers. You click the link to the ‘Hiring Information’ page, what do you see?
- If the content is good, it could include an overview of hiring a new person including how to get approval, links to the Hiring Policy, a diagram of the hiring process, hiring checklist and relevant forms. It was last reviewed in June 2020 and will be reviewed again in June 2021.
- If the content isn’t so good, it might include a link to the hiring form and a short note with asking you to contact the HR Manager before completing the form. Last updated 5 years ago.
Take a guess which of one of these pages is far more helpful? Unfortunately this is something I have actually see often. In one case it wasn’t an old Intranet, it was one that had just been launched! Why does this sort of thing happen? There are many reasons, a few common ones include:
- There are no standards for the quality of content
- There was no review and approval process for the creation of content
- The Intranet was created by IT without input from the organisation
- The Intranet had no budget for ongoing management
- DYI Intranet created on a shoe string and the team didn’t know any better!
All is not lost, you can do a few simple things to ensure new content is good and existing content is updated to reach a good standard. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Create a minimum standard for your content
- Use template page layouts for consistency
- Assign content owners and given them responsibility for reviewing and updating content
- Use Power Automate to create reminders for content owners
- Budget for content reviews and development
- Create a governance plan
- Ask your employees what they would find helpful and then implement it!
There are many other things you can do to improve the quality of content on your Intranet, but the trick is to make it part of a business process or planned activity rather than you will get to it when you have time. It really doesn’t matter if your Intranet is built with the latest technology with beautiful branding if the content isn’t up to scratch, people won’t use it.
If you want people to use your Intranet, make sure your promise of good content is kept.
- Planning your SharePoint Content (Microsoft)
- 3 Ways to Inspire your Content Authors (NN Group)
- 5 Essential tips for writing good content (Thought Farmer)
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