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Is your SharePoint intranet an essential employee destination?

Denise CoxDenise Cox·

Last month I had intranet and collaboration specialist Sam Marshall of ClearBox Consulting as a guest on our best practice webinar series. The topic was SharePoint. Sam took us through the good, the bad and the future of this popular application. He also answered questions about driving adoption, as well as a discussion about whether SharePoint replaces other channels.

Sam shared insight into getting the best out of SharePoint (or any intranet): “Don’t put SharePoint in the middle of your digital workplace and say ‘how can we make it accessible on a range of devices?’. Instead, ask ‘how do we enable the flow between people and content? and then, make SharePoint one of the enablers of that”.

An Intranet is a significant investment for organizations, so during the webinar there were many questions focused around making the most of the company intranet.

Here are some of the questions that attendees put to Sam:

Q: Do you have any comments on the right level of communications as the pace of innovation moves from large product releases to incremental releases?

I think the best thing to do is to have an internal roadmap that you make available to everyone in the organization. Give a lot of detail about what will happen over the next 3-6 months, and then more general overview for the following 6-18 months. This works well when combined with something like an internal community discussion forum, such as Yammer. Invite employees to contribute – creating an informal user group.

These forums can give valuable feedback early on in your roadmap e.g. as to how employees are engaging. Additionally, potentially strong champions may come forward. These champions can help progress adoption of your intranet.

By  increasing the frequency of smaller releases, but lowering the impact to changes, you start supporting employees in a different way. Rather than ‘from tomorrow, everything that you know is out the window but don’t worry we’re going to send you on a one day training course’, it’s more of an ‘okay this is the new feature this month. We’ll just give you a quick demonstration of what it does‘. This leads to a much better chance of engagement and acceptance of the changes.

Q: How do you find internal communicators are fitting SharePoint in along-side their other channels such as email and face-to-face?

Wedge, one of my associates, wrote a great blog post encouraging communicators to stop viewing their intranet as a single channel. SharePoint is actually a whole range of channels. The way you do formal news through SharePoint is different than the way you might do informal status updates, or the way departments communicate with their team. Also, media channels are different – such as the internal video channel on SharePoint. Each should be viewed as a separate channel to be managed with its own publishing channel, as well as how it will be measured for success

Use other channels in tandem with your intranet. For example, send an email shot containing snippets of content with direct links to the full article on the intranet.  Or use email to collaboration at the intranet following on from a town hall.

Q:  We are trying to encourage our team to use SharePoint. We provided training, and best practice information is available. What do you think about a reward scheme?

Rather than reward schemes, I believe it’s more powerful to tie into what the employee is trying to achieve. Put it to the employees – tell us you what you trying to achieve in your job. We’ll show you how SharePoint can make your life easier. That’s the only sustainable way to increase the use and value of your intranet.

If you missed the webinar, you can listen to the recording here.


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