Once upon a time (November 6th, 2006), in the land of the Wisconsinites, an intranet was born. It was truly a beautiful sight – no pun intended. This intranet belonged to none other than Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Very quickly, the collaboration beast became the star-child among CUNA’s collection of internal business tools. Primarily, the employee intranet was being used as a way for the HR and Finance departments to deliver forms to their fellow employees. And, it was great.
Sadly enough, over the course of six years, the intranet had become quite stale and out-of-date. This was especially detrimental as it was causing the organization to lose faith in their, once star-child, business tool.
In November 2012, a foot was put down, however. Nita McCann, of the IT department at CUNA, had come to a realization: The intranet was becoming increasingly difficult to manage and something had to change.
Nita marched to her desk, picked up the telephone and dialed 1-604-924-9770 and, within seconds, a familiar voice was heard on the other end. It was none other than a stellar member of the Intranet Connections support team. Together, Nita and the knight in shining support representative clothing discussed the different problems she was facing with her employee intranet. After about 20-minutes, the problems had been identified and a strategy had been put in-place for re-vitalizing the employee intranet. Two major issues were identified:
Re-organizing six years’ worth of content was no easy task but it had to be done. Nita and the support representative shared several dedicated sessions that consisted of recommendations and best practices for the employee intranet re-build.
Step 1: Replicate Site for Reconstruction In order to keep the information flowing, we needed to keep the existing intranet up and running while the intranet face-lift was being implemented. This was easily accomplished by setting up a replica copy of the employee intranet running on a development server. Once copied, Nita was free to work on her replica intranet site and begin the re-structuring without affecting the live CUNA intranet site.
Step 2: Start with a Clean SlateThe initial goal for the CUNA employee intranet re-build was to simplify and consolidate information in to a handful of global content libraries (e.g. documents & forms, organizational news etc.). To begin, our Intranet Connections team recommended that Nita completely remove everything from her homepage (e.g. entire navigation, all widgets/feeds, etc.). Seem a little drastic? Maybe, but starting with a clean homepage allowed us to immediately determine which intranet areas were essential to the organization’s information needs. The areas re-added to the navigation could be considered to be CUNA’s killer applications. The rest was up for debate.
Step 3: Know Your Audience Through the process of collecting feedback from her fellow employees, Nita was able to construct a tight group of content libraries, and feeds that needed to be re-added back in to the intranet (a small portion of what existed before). This would help tremendously with improving the, previously, overwhelming navigation that made finding information very difficult for the users.
Step 4: Organizing the Chaos Another major problem was information-scatter. There was a large number sub-sites (one for each department) that had gone stale over time. To ease the maintenance and management of the organization’s content, we decided that decommissioning the sub-sites, migrating the content in to a few, centralized content libraries made the most sense. Again, through a process of collecting feedback from her employees, Nita uncovered the essential subsite content and migrated it to her handful of centralized content libraries.
Step 5: Location, Location, Location Now that the structure for the employee intranet re-build is in-place, Nita will need to ensure that her users add content in to the proper locations. To accomplish this, Nita can create an FAQ section within one of her content libraries and include guidelines for posting content on the intranet site. To enforce the guidelines further, she can introduce an approval workflow for her content libraries and require that new or updated content go through an auditing process (by her) before final publication. Eventually, once users have gotten used to the new content libraries, the approval workflow can be removed.
Step 6: Engagement Through Design & Usability Beyond that, Nita has recently incorporated a new design that has changed the side navigation in to a top navigation. Removing the side menu has provided additional real estate for the content area which has improved the readability of her content. She is in the process of rolling this new intranet site out to her heavy content contributors (e.g. HR, Finance) to gauge their thoughts and feedback on the new intranet. Once this stage has been complete, the new intranet will be ready for the entire organization to use.
To conclude, I would like thank Nita from CUNA for allowing me to feature her in this week’s blog. As well, I’d like to welcome you in sharing your techniques for your employee intranet re-build. Please use the comments area below.