Top 6 Reasons Why Intranets Die

1. Ownership is not clear
It’s a bit of IT and a bit of HR… or marketing… or Internal Comms (if you have that function and many medium-sized businesses with intranets don’t) isn’t it?  Often, when an intranet platform was procured with bright-eyed excitement and ground-breaking plans, the longer-term plan around who would actually own and nurture the site gets forgotten.  A whole lot of love and effort is poured into the build and launch sometimes, but after a year or two down the line and not much more has been added, updated or changed and now the cool kids have all jumped on Yammer or created WhatsApp groups.

And whose job is it anyway?  IT don’t want it, they may have procured it and set it up but they shouldn’t be responsible for adding pages or changing content.

HR would do it, when they get a minute and then when they do no-one can remember how to create a page…

Marketing are too busy with the latest campaign…

And so it goes on. Yes I’m exaggerating a little for effect but you get the picture.

2. Too many controls
When the site was being set up, someone somewhere had the great idea to add some social elements.  You know, to build community and internal collaboration?

But someone else somewhere more senior was worried people might say stuff they shouldn’t.  And who will administrate that?  Plus, we need to make sure no-one else can access it, so we need a secure login process. So when you do remember your log in and decide to post a comment in the forum to share ideas on how to improve the customer experience, you have to wait a week for Linda in HR to sign off your post…or your comment.  So you don’t bother!

3. It was a tick in the box
The intranet was the result of… well because we should have an intranet.  No-one really sat down and looked at how the intranet should support the business and its people to deliver on the business strategy.  So the intranet you have now is not relevant and never will be, unless someone works this out.

4. It’s boring
It’s amazing that when we interact as individuals on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and other social platforms, we do so in a relaxed and often very witty way.  Yet that usually gets switched off for the intranet.  The content is very formal, boring and there is little use of pictures, never mind video.

Blogs get started but many are not maintained. There is more personality in the office plant.  The site becomes a launch pad to Google.

5. The Content Management System requires a Degree in Astro Physics
Yes, you had the training and at the time, the 12 steps to create a new page seemed quite logical, but that was 2 months ago and you can be dammed if you remember what the hell step one is never mind the rest.  The intuitive ‘widget bar’ is about as intuitive as a 24-channel mixing desk in a recording studio, I mean even Brian Cox would be struggling to understand what those icons mean.  So, you cannibalise the pages you have and just add more content to them making them really, really, really long.  But at least you published so that’s okay right?  Or you just don’t bother and send out a really exciting email instead.

6. You have platform-itus
Your intranet is… well, not very good – so people are using their own platforms for stuff.  Ange in Marketing got this fab tool for all of Marketing’s assets and there are lots of good pictures and video in there.  You have another clever thing which allows you to put forms online and you have all the expenses and payroll-related stuff all in another place and HR love it!  They are probably going to need something else for the appraisal process though. You’ve just signed up to an ideation software platform and plan to launch that in the summer…
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As the intranet is limited, everyone is just going their own way and spending their own budget on other apps and tools which is driving duplication, frustration and cost.

In conclusion

Intranets can be a transformational, drive visibility and accountability as well as really giving employees a voice.  To deliver on your organisation’s goals, ensure your Intranet has a clear owner in your business, and someone on the Exec team is its sponsor.  Have a clear set of goals for it, know exactly what its role is in your business and within your internal communications approach. Loosen up your controls, trust people to contribute in ways that are valuable.  Make sure it is easy to add and update content and choose a platform which can grow with your needs.

The modern intranet is a digital employee interface – invest in that and you will save yourself a lot of time and expense. But make sure you know what you actually want it to achieve first.

Emma Alcock is a Senior Consultant for RALC Consulting and specialises in Internal Communications, Employee Engagement and Intranet delivery. Add Emma on LinkedIn

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