Dear CEO, It's Time to Think About Your Intranet

by Karyn Zuidinga

on May 28, 2014

Dear CEO,
It’s been a bit of a wild ride the last few years but hey, the market is bouncing back, the merger and acquisitions wheels are turning again and company values are rising. Chances are you are sitting on some cash and you need to make some decisions about growth versus profit. What a great position to be in! And hey, kudos to you for steering the ship through some rough waters back there

I know you’ve been looking at a lot of numbers lately, everything from balance sheets, to each division’s P&L, to various marketing metrics. But here’s a number you may not be seeing that’s affecting all of the other numbers, productivity. How is the company’s productivity these days? I’m not so much thinking about the number of regular and overtime hours people are working, but more about results, getting the job done.

Do you have a clear sense of that?

Did you know that your corporate intranet (the website and the tools combined) may be the single biggest source of productivity lag in your company? Some estimates suggest that your intranet may be negatively affecting productivity in the company by anywhere from 20% to 40%. Seriously. It feels hard to believe, right? But we hear it all the time when we work on intranet-related projects. People tell us that they waste anywhere from one to three hours per day trying to do stuff that should be easier. This includes finding information on the intranet, booking meeting rooms, finding out who to speak to about something, getting something adjusted in their workspace, logging their time, getting project critical information, etc.

I know the company intranet is probably the least sexy thing you could invest in right now. But why don’t you take 10 minutes and have a look at your intranet and consider these questions:

Can you actually find things on it? Can you find key project information? How about benefits information? How about contact info for the person in charge of the ride share program?

  • Can you complete simple tasks like time management or booking a meeting room?
  • How about resources, do you know who’s available and who’s not in over the next quarter?
  • How are you feeling about internal communications? Are key messages getting out to everyone?
  • Do people feel employees have a tool that they can truly collaborate and communicate with?

How’d you do? Struggled a little? Struggled a lot? Consider that your intranet is meant to be the glue that holds your company together. Your intranet is meant to be a core supporting element for your employees and their relationship with your company.

If those basic tasks listed above are anything more challenging than simple, you are wasting your staff’s time. Your intranet is getting in the way of employee productivity.

Happily there is a fix. Through some good user experience work on that intranet you can gain back some of those loses in productivity, boost engagement, and support other more appealing investments, like innovation.

Feel free to ping me if you want to talk about it some more.

Image is of Women have a tea break c.1940, archival picture taken from The Story of. Women working at Kew during World War II.

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