Why benchmarking your intranet is vital to success

Our guest blog is from Andrew Wright – founder of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) – a web based survey that allows organisations to obtain and benchmark feedback from their staff about what they think of their intranet. He has worked with intranets for the past 10 years and has presented at conferences both overseas and in his home country of Australia. Andrew will be presenting at Interaction 2013 – Europe’s largest intranet conference

It was over four years ago that I attended an intranet conference hoping to pick up some tips about how to develop a better intranet. One of the speakers – a tall, well dressed and impressive looking guy from a well-known global company – delivered a case study about a huge multi-million dollar intranet re-design project his company had just finished and that he had project managed.

He began his presentation by saying that it was important to get key stakeholders involved and that an effective business case was the key to doing this. He then went on to say that gaining end user support was also critical and that you should conduct as many workshops as possible to not only obtain requirements but also to build engagement.

This was all sounding good and most people were nodding their heads in enthusiastic agreement.

He said that card sorting and wire-framing were important tools for the design and that you also needed a detailed content development plan, along with training, communication and marketing plans.

Everyone was agreeing and thinking, ‘these guys have all the bases covered’.

Then he demonstrated the new intranet. There were appropriate ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ as a very good looking website was unveiled. He took us through some of the key features – nice looking staff profile pages, revolving news stories, some colourful performance indicators on the front page, even a few online forms … and then … that was the end of the presentation!!

I felt like Moses looking at the gates of the ‘Promised Land’ but unable to enter! I wanted to know, ‘Was the intranet any good!’ Where was the evidence? Was anyone using it? Did it deliver on the promise made in the business case? Did employees value it? Did the approach he recommended actually work? For example, how did he know the card sorting produced an effective navigation?…

Sadly, he had answered none of these questions. And in my eyes, without this evidence, his presentation lost most of its credibility.

As a result of this anti-climactic experience, a few months later I decided to start the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) (the WIC is a tool that gives companies the ability to obtain feedback about the intranet from their employees and then benchmark this feedback with other companies. It helps answer the question, ‘How do employees value our intranet?’).

Over 40,000 people from more than 150 companies in 23 different countries have now completed the WIC.

While many individual companies have appreciated using the WIC to deliver a more valuable intranet to their staff, the WIC has also provided a wealth of end user data that can be analysed to identify industry wide trends and answer questions such as:

  • What are the business drivers that highly rated intranets have in common?
  • What are the biggest problems that intranet end users have with their intranets and how are leading companies resolving them?
  • How have intranets in general evolved over the last 4 years and what direction should they be heading?
  • What types of content do end users think add the most value?
  • How are companies using feedback to prioritise future intranet improvement initiatives?

These are some of the questions I will be answering during my presentation at Interaction 2013. I will also be talking about how benchmarking your intranet not only helps make your presentations more credible at conferences, but can also help you to:

  • Prioritise your long list of intranet improvement activities
  • Measure the impact of changes or improvements you may implement
  • Motivate your intranet team by providing measurable goals
  • Obtain recognition from your peers
  • Obtain funding for a business case to improve your intranet