Information EXP Specialists in SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Power Platform Consultancy Thu, 17 Dec 2020 17:51:21 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Information EXP 32 32 182631376 What is the purpose of an intranet? Wed, 16 Dec 2020 10:48:48 +0000 The post What is the purpose of an intranet? appeared first on Information EXP.


Who does your intranet serve?

Your people of course, but what is the goal of your intranet, when will you know if it is successful?

 Take a seat as we cover the common goals of having an intranet.

Who is your intranet owner?

The purpose of your intranet will naturally relate to the goals of the person who owns it, this tends to be one of the following:

  • CEO: Driving and sharing the organisation’s goals
  • COO: Creating a hub for innovation and business process management
  • Internal Communications or HR team members: Creating a trusted source of organisational information
  • IT: Providing a stable and accessible platform to enable departments to publish their information

Successful intranets

In our experience, the most successful intranets are when all the above come together under a sponsor from a senior level. This creates a platform that works for everyone with engaging content, drives business processes and provides the go-to place for the single version of the truth on organisational information such as policies and procedures.

We’ve expanded on the 6 key purposes and what that means practically. Sharing your purpose both inside the project team and across the organisation helps:

  • Keep your intranet project focused
  • Helps visitors understand how the intranet can serve them
  • Drives the longer-term success beyond the noise of the launch

1: Improve leadership to employee communications

You rely on email and word-of-mouth to understand the direction of the organisation and often this information is one way with no feedback loop.

Your intranet offers a media-rich trusted publishing platform which allows your employees to:

  • Have visibility on the future vision of the organisation
  • Understand the role they can play to help achieve that vision
  • Seek clarity through questioning

To make this successful you need to plan an ongoing stream of news, move away from company-wide emails, and ensure the information from in-person events, such as town hall events, is replicated on your intranet.

    2: Improve department level communications

    Geographic splits of teams and the natural corporate structure of separate departments can make it difficult for groups to work together, access knowledge and builds barriers to the organisation reaching its goals.

    Experience shows that most departments, or teams, are keen to have an intranet presence, or “Shop Window” as we call it – but then they struggle to understand what kind of information they should publish.

    To answer this stumbling block, we ask these three questions:

    • What is the best way for other teams to engage with you?
    • What questions do you most frequently get asked?
    • Which are the primary assets that you send out / publish?

    By creating relevant content and ensuring that is easily found, you will drive the right outcomes.

        3: Provide a trusted single source of the truth

        Emailing the owner of a policy or marketing asset is often the easiest way to ensure you have the information in front of you, but you are reliant on the owner being available and not making good use of their time.

        A good intranet should give users the confidence that the information published is correct, and that there is no need to go back to the author to validate that “is the current version?”

        Key considerations on how this best works in practice:

        1. Start with common company-wide information such as HR Policies
        2. Provide a feedback loop for when information is seen to be incorrect or out of date
        3. Design an information architecture that works both for the content authors and the end-users

            4: Drive collaboration

            The lines between intranet (publishing) and collaboration (creation) continue to blur. A great example of this is the on-going management of company policies. The creation, review, approval and publishing of policies can occur in the same environment – avoiding word documents managed on a file-share and subsequently being uploaded as a PDF into the intranet – this new approach gives you full version control, workflow approval and a single version of the policy.

            In approaching this goal, consider your information architecture and how it can support modern document management. This, for us, covers the full document life-cycle from creation to publishing.

                5: Build community & celebrate your culture

                Company values often feel like a “one-time event” – a big offsite announcement, posters on the wall – but the energy behind your defined values fades away over time. If they are truly part of your culture, ask what role can intranet play in promoting your values for the longer term?

                An intranet can help explain, reinforce and celebrate your values be demonstrated for the longer term.

                In approaching this:

                • Clearly articulate your values and make them easily accessible via the homepage
                • Provide the next level of detail of what your values mean for your people – one organisation’s definition of “open communication” may well be different from another
                • Celebrate examples of values being shown though news articles
                • Allow staff to nominate their colleagues for demonstrating values – go further and award prizes

                    6: Share & develop ideas

                    Many organisations are shifting from top-down management and embracing a culture where everyone can contribute, crowdsourcing ideas through an intranet allows ideas to be shared, expanded upon and feedback on.

                    • Use an ideas forum to make it easy to capture, categorise and converse
                    • Ensure senior leadership sponsorship
                    • Create awareness through celebrating the ideas that made it and encouraging feedback


                      Let's talk

                      We've developed intranets for over 15 years
                      whatever your challenge - we'd like to hear it.

                      What we cover


                      Call: 0330 133 2434
                      Chat: Book a Call
                      Visit: The Long Barn, Cobham Park Road, Downside, Surrey, KT11 3NE

                      The post What is the purpose of an intranet? appeared first on Information EXP.

                      6 Rules for Long-Term Home Working with Microsoft Teams Tue, 15 Dec 2020 13:27:20 +0000 The post 6 Rules for Long-Term Home Working with Microsoft Teams appeared first on Information EXP.


                      6 Rules for Long-Term Home Working with Microsoft Teams

                      Many of us may now be suffering from “WFH fatigue” – how do you keep focus when you’ve been working at home for too long and the novelty has worn off? 

                      Learn MoreBook a Call

                      Keeping on track when working from home

                      Rule 1: Find your commute

                      Gaining an hour in bed over the train or car commute might sound like a win – but moving straight from the breakfast table to the desk doesn’t give us the time to clear our minds and plan our day. Start with a morning walk – having a dog helps.


                      • Use Microsoft To-Do within Microsoft 365 to set out your personal work tasks and priorities.

                      Rule 2: Keep to working hours

                      It is easy for the workday to stretch when you work from home, tasks which have a 5.30 pm deadline seem to stretch into the night. Try sticking to your working hours and timetable regular breaks.


                      • Make sure work stops when you stop – with Microsoft Teams you can switch mobile notifications off by: Open Teams App on your smartphone -> Click on the 3 stacked lines, known as the “Menu Icon”, and then select notifications. From here you can set Quiet Hours.
                      • Finish meetings at 5 minutes to the hour to give yourself chance to refresh and reset.

                        Rule 3: Connect Daily

                        We run a team daily stand-up to check-in with each other. We cover what we achieved yesterday, what blockers we’re facing in our work (where we need help) and our plan for the day ahead. We also review our key KPIs. We schedule this meeting in Teams as a reoccurring appointment and use Planner, Power BI and Teams Chat to capture, manage and report on our progress.


                        • Provision a Teams Channel for your daily stand-up to bring all your meeting information together
                        • Creating a recurring meeting within this Channel, this will ensure that “Chat” and notes will remain within the Channel allowing for continutiy
                        • Add tabs for “Planner” and “Power BI” to provide access to key data

                          Rule 4: Video Video Video

                          We encourage video when we use teams calls – it helps build trust and maintain focus. It is reported by Professor Albert Mehrabian (1971) that 55% of communication is through body language, 7% is verbal, 38% tone of voice. Furthermore, as well as seeing you, if you choose, your audience can see your environment. This helps bring a more personal connection to meetings.


                          • Not ready to share your background? With Microsoft Teams you can Blur the background, start your meeting, click on the 3 dots (ellipses) and choose blur background or alternatively use a custom background.

                            Rule 5: Block out distractions

                            As a rule, we find we those tasks that require deep concentration are better done in the morning – for example authoring an intranet strategy report. On the flipside we tend to work more on collaborative tasks in the afternoon. So help your colleague and sign post when you’re available and when you’re busy.


                            • Block out time in our calendars for “deep work”
                            • Change your status in Microsoft Teams to “Do Not Disturb”
                            • Close Outlook and turn off new mail notifications
                            • In the Windows taskbar set “Focus Assist” to “Alarms Only”
                            • Work in 20 minutes bursts to “swallow the frog” (worth a search if you haven’t come across this before)

                              Rule 6: Think before you create

                              There is a real risk that when you start using Microsoft Teams that the number Teams and Channels and group chats grow exponentially in the short term. “The short time fix leaves a long-term legacy” – there is a cost of orphaned groups and islands of data – IT departments get stuck with this data, who owns it, do we need to protect this or delete this, is it an asset or a liability?


                              • Consider how you want your people to use teams, the “rules” of when a Team should be created, and when a Channel is more appropriate. Furthermore, there may be instances where Teams should not be used, and your existing file shares or other content management solutions should take priority.

                              Let's talk

                              We've developed intranets for over 15 years
                              whatever your challenge - we'd like to hear it.

                              What we cover


                              Call: 0330 133 2434
                              Chat: Book a Call
                              Visit: The Long Barn, Cobham Park Road, Downside, Surrey, KT11 3NE

                              The post 6 Rules for Long-Term Home Working with Microsoft Teams appeared first on Information EXP.

                              40+ Questions to ask before you invest in an intranet Mon, 14 Dec 2020 16:13:57 +0000 The post 40+ Questions to ask before you invest in an intranet appeared first on Information EXP.


                              47 Key Questions before investing in an intranet

                              You have decided you need an intranet to help meet your organisation’s goals – you’ve clarified the purpose and you are now looking for help to make it a reality.


                               If you’re looking at a intranet that works with Microsoft 365, this is for you.

                              Learn MoreBook a Call

                              Finding the right SharePoint Intranet

                              For many organisations, this means “going-to-market” to see what is available. In the last Clearbox report over 55 solutions exist just for SharePoint and Microsoft 365 – and those are the ones which choose to be reviewed. The number beyond that and outside of the Microsoft 365 technology stack is much larger.

                              So, the market is competitive – how do you draw your shortlist?


                              • Use a report, such as Clearbox, to identify possible matches – they give awards for the top solutions
                              • Speak to your network – what are they using – what are the pro’s and con’s?
                              • SharePoint out of the box – consider if simply working with a Microsoft Partner who can configure SharePoint would meet your needs without investing in an add-on solution
                              • Technology is only part of the solution – consider the experience and focus of the organisation and their people who will implement and support your solution

                              Understand your intranet vendor

                              The company which implements the solution may be different from the one which has built the solution – it is important to understand the background of your underlying vendor. A packaged solution without vendor support will quickly become unstuck.

                              1. How well established is the vendor?
                              2. Is their Intranet solution their primary focus?
                              3. Are they financially stable?
                              4. What case studies do they have based on organisations like yours?
                              5. Can you see their solution roadmap?

                              Which platform meets your needs?

                               If you have a cloud first strategy can you quickly discount an on-premises solutions. Also consider if you are looking to reduce the number of services you have to manage – then look at solutions that extend your existing platforms rather than introducing new ones. Choose the appropriate question for you.

                              1. Is your solution cloud-based?
                              2. Or: Can I implement your solution in our physical environment?
                              3. Does it sit within or alongside the Microsoft Platform? (If it is alongside that may mean that some of your data will be outside the security features of the Microsoft platform).

                              Intranet features

                              We see many organisations create long wish lists for features however, consider what are the key features that you need rather than an extensive wish list.

                              1. What sets your solution apart from other solutions?
                              2. Can we easily change/update the branding ourselves?
                              3. What features do you offer to help with content publishing (think FAQ’s for example)?
                              4. What level of end-user customisation do you offer?

                              Intranet content creation

                              Content is king, so make sure it is easy for anyone to add content – and for them to stay on brand.

                              1. How do you keep the intranet on brand?
                              2. Do you support templates to help with consistency?
                              3. How easily can “non-technical” staff create and manage content?
                              4. Do you support audience targeting of information?

                              Intranet success

                              How do you know what is working and what isn’t in your intranet, do they provide best practice on intranets that work? What does the long-term relationship look like with your supplier?

                              1. How do you support us following implementation?
                              2. To what extent do you offer usage analytics?
                              3. How do you help us keep our intranet fresh?

                              Intranet technology approach

                              Ensure that the solution meets both your data security requirements and aligns with the underlying platform (Microsoft in our case) strategic direction.

                              1. If using SharePoint – is the solution based on the modern framework?
                              2. Is the solution reliant on the vendor’s SaaS service?
                              3. How are updates to the solution managed?

                              Intranet accessibility

                              Access anywhere for anyone is key for inclusivity – also consider how your people work.

                              1. Which level of accessibility standard do you meet?
                              2. What is your mobile experience, do you offer an app?
                              3. Is the intranet going to be in a place where employees already go (say SharePoint or Microsoft Teams)

                                Intranet security

                                Introducing additional username and passwords will create a barrier to entry as well as additional overhead for IT. For many organisations, tight integration into Microsoft’s Active Directory should be a must.

                                1. Does the solution support single-sign-on with our Activity Directory?
                                2. Does the solution support MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)?
                                3. Does the solution send information back to the vendor?
                                4. Does the solution store our data in your environment?

                                  Intranet integrations

                                  An intranet should bring information together to provide employees with a single all-up view of what is happening within the organisation – that means pulling information together from a variety of sources. Policies and Procedures from SharePoint, social information from Twitter and data from line-of-business systems.

                                  1. To what extent do you integrate with our productivity platforms? (Typically, Microsoft 365 is the big one)
                                  2. Can we extract and publish organisational KPI’s?
                                  3. Can we publish from RSS feeds?
                                  4. What platforms do you integrate with public social channels such as Twitter / LinkedIn / Instagram / Facebook / YouTube?

                                    Intranet Implementation

                                    In our experience organisations typically underestimate the effort and duration required for implementation. Draw on the experience of the implementor to understand what time and people investment you will be expected to make.

                                    1. How long does implementation typically take?
                                    2. Can you share a typical Implementation plan?
                                    3. What will you need from us to support implementation – people/time?

                                    Cost of implementing a intranet

                                    When looking at commercial options, some vendors may offer different pricing models depending on; how long you commit for, if you are a charity, which features are required.

                                    1. What is the typical implementation cost for an organisation like ours?
                                    2. Can you offer a fixed price model?

                                    Cost of supporting an intranet

                                    The most successful intranets are ones where your implementation partner and you have a view of long-term strategic relationship from the outset. Balance this with a reactive tactical approach of “it’s broken – can you fix it” which may keep the technology going – but will not foster longer-term success.

                                    1. What is the investment of support offering?
                                    2. Are there a time or other limitations within the contract?

                                        Intranet investement

                                        The solution costs are likely to play a key part in your budgeting, try to understand the full lifecycle costs over your typically investment period – say 3-5 years.

                                        1. Is there a “one-off licence cost for the solution”?
                                        2. Is there an on-going subscription cost?
                                        3. What features are included / cost extra?
                                        4. What is the contract term?
                                        5. How does this change if we have additional staff, lose staff, or have temporary staff?
                                        6. Do I need any underlying licences (e.g. Microsoft 365)?
                                        7. Do I need to budget for any ancillary services (e.g. Azure)?

                                        Let's talk

                                        We've developed intranets for over 15 years
                                        whatever your challenge - we'd like to hear it.

                                        What we cover


                                        Call: 0330 133 2434
                                        Chat: Book a Call
                                        Visit: The Long Barn, Cobham Park Road, Downside, Surrey, KT11 3NE

                                        The post 40+ Questions to ask before you invest in an intranet appeared first on Information EXP.