Happy New Year to all our SharePoint intranet administrators, communicators, and other intranet and SharePoint friends! To help you improve, optimize, implement, maximize and/or overhaul your intranet this year, we’ve created a list of New Year’s resolutions.
Unlike most resolutions (“I’ll hit the gym 6x a week!” or “No more beer!”) these resolutions are reasonable, doable, and the result will be a healthy intranet which will pay dividends far past February when the gym parking lot will be empty and your glass may not be. Best of all, some are related to SharePoint intranets and some are generic, applying to any intranet.
Resolution 1: Improve employee engagement by starting at the top
Getting employees to buy-in and actively engage with your intranet system can be challenging, but we see the most effective method includes a top-down approach. When the C-level (executive) management not only approves of the intranet, but actively uses the intranet – collaborating and sharing information, including touting it at all-employee meetings – it motivates employees to engage and use the intranet as well. Executives need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, including your CTO and CIO; your leaders demonstrating they use the intranet shows how valuable it is.
More than demonstration, it enables your SharePoint intranet or generic intranet to be used as a communication vehicle. When management spends time listening to feedback and responding, it allows them to understand employee issues which may otherwise be ignored or misunderstood, decreasing morale and their desire to use your intranet to the best of its ability.
It’s not just engagement at the top. The best intranets ensure opportunities for people at all levels. Managers should be able to understand training needed, get information on policies, as well as get mentoring assistance. Employees should have an opportunity to ask questions, collaborate and be productive.
Resolution 2: Clean up your SharePoint intranet and your act
The second most common complaint in the survey: time wasted searching content, caused by inefficient or disorganized database management and structure.
Even the most eloquent and important information is only as effective as the ease and ability of a user to find it. That’s all user experience (UX). Create an information architecture (IA) so it’s easy to use and understand, providing relevant information to those searching for items. Also, consider pinning or weighting important information. Some important guidelines include:
- Agree on a consistent naming structure. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Have an intranet strategy for naming content, then make sure it is being used consistently across all departments. These standards will also make it easier to use content types to assign settings for shared content such as “New Hire Forms” or “XYZ Product Specifications.”
- Create custom permissions and define access to content based on user types, including Active Directory access. There’s no need to confuse an employee who only needs access to one document regarding “Department Safety Guidelines” if you have multiple versions of safety guidelines based on job type, title, location, etc. Some intranets make it easy to target communications and personalize, so employees only see the information that is relevant to them. In fact, with modern intranets, this personalization and targeted communications, even in urgent intranet alerts, is standard.
- Develop a central database where all “global” documents will be stored and can be viewed by all employees. A consistent naming strategy will help everyone find what they are looking for most effectively. Also, the right metadata will ensure content is easily found.
- Unlike the Internet, intranet content can be pinned or weighted to show up for specific searches. Some intranet solutions enable you to associate specific search terms with specific content. That means if employees search for “Benefits” there’s a set group of medical, dental and vision content available when people are in the Human Resources or Employee Resources areas.
Resolution 3: Audit yourself and your intranet
Audit information that is easily outdated, including legal and regulatory compliance policies, specifically in industries such as financial services, government, healthcare or legal services where record retention is imperative. SharePoint has document management built in, where legal information is secured and in compliance with your industry standards, as well as creating an environment where, should an audit or subpoena occur, legal discovery is be handled with minimal cost and hassle.
The two ways of dealing with secure files are either within a record center or allowing “in-place” record management. Either of these forms of record protection minimizes your legal exposure and makes you a hero with your inside or outside legal counsel, deflecting fines and lawsuits. In fact, it’s highly recommended your counsel assist you with setup and/or audit of processes to ensure the correct documents are being protected. Depending on your organization, it may be in Records Management or Legal (or both!).
Resolution 4: Keep your intranet fine-tuned
The more people who have admin access and can install web parts, the more difficult it is to track who is doing what and decreases the odds of having a streamlined process and clean code. Have a small group of qualified SharePoint admins who communicate with each other on a regular basis to make sure any web parts are needed and aren’t creating reducing performance. Also, ensure your content team is equally nimble and small.
Here are a few tips to clean up your SharePoint intranet act this year:
- Intranet governance plan. If you don’t have one, start planning one immediately. Starting a plan can seem overwhelming, but don’t panic. Intranet governance can be simple and effective with a few guidelines and the buy-in of people across your organization.
- Know who’s large and in charge. This was stated earlier, at least in terms of SharePoint administrators, but it can’t be stressed enough. Small, lean and mean teams make for faster performance and less confusion. There should be a place where the buck stops, too – who is the final decision-maker regarding the intranet. That final decision maker should include potentially someone for intranet maintenance and another for content itself.
- Provide updates to executives sometimes. Metrics and updates should be provided to executives regularly so they understand what’s happening and why. Consider making them part of your expanded team so they know new features, decisions and how effective your intranet is.
- Content, categories and names. What types of content will be added and what will the naming structures be? What type of sites do you want to see on the system? Have everyone on the same page.
- Ongoing training and improvement. Once you have a working system in place, ensure all new employees understand and have a training protocol in place with an Admin who can walk them through procedures and answer any additional questions (also, as a fresh set of eyes a new employee may have insightful feedback or additional ideas for the Admin team).
We will end this list of resolutions with a quick wish for you, our friends: May this year bring you full employee engagement, clean data, and a supportive team who understands the importance of data management. May your orphaned sites be purged, your security be strong, your IT gurus be amazing and your SharePoint intranet be improved!Get help for more productivity and better employee engagement. Our SharePoint intranet is mobile, communications-focused and still leaves IT in charge without the hassle of constant upkeep.