Despite all the excitement and effort put into building a new Office 365 intranet, intranet adoption is the major hurdle when it comes to sustaining a new intranet. It’s not uncommon for an intranet to quickly become stale, deserted, and just plain ‘dead‘ without proper attention, care and follow-up. Many of the reasons why this happens can be easily avoided. They stem from the lack of executive buy-in, resulting in issues related to stale content and difficulty in navigating the site.
1. Lack of Executive Buy In
Office 365 Intranet initiatives require more than just executive sponsorship - they require executive buy-in.
When launching a new Office 365 intranet, organizations spend effort and money on crafting content, building pages, configuring apps, and choosing colors. After the intranet has launched there are many activities that will keep your intranet going strong. These also require effort, time, and consequently buy-in from executives.
An average organization of 100-300 users needs at least one part-time employee to maintain the Office 365 intranet. Be sure to set expectations at the beginning by asking for the time and effort allocation to cover this role.
The responsibilities of the intranet manager include:
Keeping the content fresh
Help write news articles
New sites, pages, etc.
Providing proactive support
Lunch and learns
Collecting and sorting feedback
All these activities require continuous time, effort, and support from the leadership.
2. Stale and Irrelevant Office 365 Intranet Content
Do these sound familiar?
A stale news carousel with the same article appearing for months
Pages with incomplete content
Duplicate content with various degrees of accuracy
Assign ownership of each Office 365 intranet area and page
Display page or section contacts and subject matter experts
Train contributors on how to create content
Supply tools to easily edit content
Add people news
3. Lack of People Content
If you’re thinking of your Office 365 intranet only as a document management system, you’re missing out. The intranet is there to connect, engage employees, and help them find and connect with others.
When people know about each other, who’s who, and who does what, it’s easier for them to connect with their peers and they’re more likely to ask for their help.
Consequently, you’re on your way to a more collaborative and engaged environment. Workflow frustrations are reduced, and errors are avoided.
Here are a few solutions to ensure your Office 365 intranet is more people focused.
Allow staff to comment on featured stories
Add an area for people news
Add an area for employee recognition and shoutouts
Add a poll with the ability to add suggestions
Feature employee FAQ’s
Add an area for employee classifieds
Add an area for employee idea crowdsourcing
4. Broken and Cumbersome Navigation
Not being able to find things on the intranet is one of the most common frustrations users report.
Oversimplified information architecture and structure is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of an intranet, especially intranets built in-house. Links and content are often organized by departments and this is proven to be very different to how users expect to find content.
Test efficiency of your information architecture
Lock down major areas
5. No Targeting (Lots of Noise)
Posting news content to everyone regardless of their location and job role can be perceived as noise by others who will start to ignore the site over time. For example: if CRM process changes will only affect the sales team, there is no need to target this news to everyone.
Split news into global and targeted cohorts
Separate people news from company news
Separate company-wide alerts (ex.: outage alerts) from news
6. Content Unequally Represented
Describe what’s mostly hosted on your Office 365 intranet.
If your answer was a single type of content such as: “mainly news”, “majority documents”, or “basically templates”, there is a problem with equal representation of content on your intranet.
The issue here is that staff whose content is not represented on the site will completely ignore the entire intranet. For example, if your Office 365 intranet is basically a repository for news, people who are not interested in reading news may never go there.
Involve content area representatives from various groups
Ask those representatives to volunteer as part-time content authors
Create areas to introduce new types of content
Ensure your information architecture is intuitive
Assign relevant ownership and contacts to those areas
Communicate new areas with the rest of the organization
7. Employees Are Not Logging In
What happens when you check your analytics and logs and see that percentage of usage is negligible?
If you addressed the issues above (stale content, add people content, clear information architecture) then follow the solutions below to revive interest in your Office 365 intranet site.
Conduct a small focus group to help identify issues
Made major recent improvements? Organize lunch and learn to let people know
Build content around major company or industry events
Add people news
Implement employee recognition and badges
We’re Here to Help!
Struggling with your intranet adoption?
Not everyone is an intranet information architecture and adoption expert, that’s why we’re here to help you.
In fact, the Origami service delivery approach focuses on outcomes before we configure the product to your needs. We measure usability of our design to give you solid evidence and confidence that your SharePoint or Office 365 intranet is set to be alive and buzzing.
Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.