Intranet as digital workplace
  • Franck van Diest

Blog - Intranet as an umbrella for a digital workplace

The intranet still has a bit of an image problem. People still seem to recall how the intranet looked like and worked – or didn’t work – when it was first introduced in their organisation.

It was ugly, only had some HR related documents stored in it and maybe an overview of all colleagues with their pictures and details. Fortunately, the intranet has seen some major developments in the recent years where it can now actually add value to an organisation”, Franck van Diest, Product Manager of Debble, explains. “The intranet will even help people to work more efficiently and effectively, in such a way that growth can be realised within the same or even lower costs.

The new interpretation of the intranet

Whenever we suggest to management that the implementation of an intranet will help their organisation, they are mostly hesitant at first. They still remember how expensive and worthless the intranet was roughly 10 years ago and are ready to dismiss the idea within a moment’s notice. But after we’ve explained how the intranet nowadays can help them create a personalised dashboard with all relevant information for them on that day, they’re getting really curious about the possibilities it poses for their organisation.

It’s impossible to compare the intranet of 2018 with the intranet everybody knows from when it was just introduced, many years ago. We have seen some technological advancements which made connections between different systems easier and this has given us tools to display this information comprehensibly. By continuing to develop these connections, the intranet will become a very powerful tool and can reintroduce itself on his own merit.

We often see that colleagues within the same organisation use multiple systems and platforms on a daily basis. All these platforms have their own interface, different ways of processing and viewing data and tasks and separate workflows. What if there’s a dashboard where you can log into at the start of each day and all your tasks, appointments and relevant documents are stored and compiled there from each platform. You can also see a social feed with the most relevant updates for you and a single sign on for all the platforms that are beneath it. All your tasks are prioritized and easily accessible. There’s no need to check every platform separately anymore and tasks will never be forgotten or overlooked.

The advantages of the new intranet

This new take on the intranet gives organisations and the people working in them many benefits. For this reintroduction to succeed, it is pivotal that the people who are going to work with the intranet are included in the preliminary meetings to determine the requirements as well as the rest of the project to monitor the progress. These are the ones that are going to work with this intranet on a daily basis and thus are they the best persons to ask for the must-haves and nice-to-haves in this platform.

It’s especially important to realise that the business is leading in this project and not the technology. Within Debble we are very proficient in making nearly every connection between systems, so there are very few limitations on a technological basis. The most important question, however, is: how can the intranet help people to work more easily? When you’re thinking from this perspective, the technology will follow.

The smart connections within the intranet

The function of the intranet can differ greatly between organisations. Where one organisation uses the intranet to centralise news, establish coworking and collect all relevant information, for another organisation it’s a central hub for information, even if the information isn’t located in the intranet itself. In this last case is the intranet an extra layer between every user and the rest of the people and processes in the organisation. This layer, or umbrella, if you will, is different for every user, because each person has different tasks and deadlines on any given day. A very clear example of this connected intranet can be found within Planon. They’ve made some very smart dashboards within their intranet which give the most important business information, based on the respective roles for every colleague. By using smart dashboards, the nature of the job changes from being reactive to having a proactive attitude. It gives the employees the power to be prepared for future changes and anticipate on them.

Shaping a new intranet

When an organisation wants to work more efficiently and effectively, the intranet is a perfect starting point. Just because every dashboard is set up on a personal level, everybody will benefit from the advantages.

As soon as the decision for an intranet has been made, it’s extremely important to have an extensive representation from within all ranks of the organisation to give shape to this new intranet. Preferably using multidisciplinary teams from different countries, to get a good overview on what everybody really needs. When the right people have been added to the project teams, we can start by defining a Minimum Viable Product. As soon as we’ve made this product, we continue working Agile and in sprints and waves to further perfect the intranet according to the wishes of everybody in the organisation.

Agile is a uniquely useful method to use in these kinds of extensive projects. It’s easier to just start the project with a MVP in mind and making short subprojects to achieve small successes. Also, when defining various small projects instead of one big programme, it’s easier to get the people to using the platform. Colleagues might even recognize certain features that they suggested being implemented on a short notice. Look at it like a pancake. You could roll it up and eat it all at once, but you’re going to enjoy it more when you cut it up in little pieces and add some extra toppings on each bite. We’re making these projects manageable and continuously improve on every step along the way.

More information

Would you like to receive more information about how you can start implementing an intranet? Get in touch with us and we will help you out!