The only client of an intranet project is the end user

When a company starts an intranet project a dedicated team is established. Sometimes multidisciplinary, bringing all the stakeholders together, sometimes mainly IT, the stakeholders being represented at the decision level, not at the operational one.

Most of times, this team tries to make all the stakeholders share the same vision. Today, an intranet or a digital workplace is not an internal communication tool only anymore. It’s a place where people live and work and, in a near futur, it will have to materialize on much more screens that the computer only. The computer screen in not endlessly expandable and the home page being critical, there’s often a fight for visibility, stakeholders behaving like media agencies trying to buy the best advisory boards in town without paying attention to visual pollution for bystanders.

The available room on the homepage is expansive and is allocated depending on the weight of each stakeholder, political games and negotiations. In the worse case the project can explode in mid-flight : internal communication steps back and plays alone, collaboration builds its own platform, ECM happening in a third one. In the worse case ever, local intranets will continue to flourish because no global governance is established. In some ways, businesses can eb back in the early 2000s, in the era of the first intranets : having one’s intranet, should it be made of two HTML pages, is a way to say “I exist”. No one wins in terms of audience and adoptions but egos are satisfied.

The end user is the only client of your intranet

You can audit the project as many times as you want, the story is always the same. Arbitrations (or lack of) makes no sense. In fact it does : it makes sense for the “client” and the team is here to satisfy the client. But who’s the client ? Internal communication, countries…

And what about the end user ? They’re more and more involved in the specification phase but their voice weight very little when it comes to arbitrations. In the end the project costs more, takes more time and no one uses the intranet. With a focus on the client needs, something useful, usable and used would have been launched. The customer ? Yes. The real one.

The real client is not internal communication or any department or division. The client is the end user. If the intranet does not have a clear and explicit value proposition and does not keep its promise no one will use it, no matter if those whose it’s the job overload it with information.

In the end, what will make that the intranet team is recognized and rewarded ? What will help to say is the money has been wisely used ? It’s adoption and use by end users and end users have one and only one need : be able to do their job, on their own and with others, and get the right information at the right time based on their context.

The success of an intranet team lies in end-users satisfaction

As I read it there, the only value of an intranet lies in employee satisfaction. Period. To be successful, one question should be answered from the start : who is the client ?

The good news is that we can see more and more recent intranets that deserves the “employee centric” label. Simplification, highlighting what matters, keeping the rest in the background no matter it hurts some egos. But that’s far from being the case everywhere.

Some principles to keep in mind

– the client of the intranet is the end user.

– they log in to get their job done and their managers don’t like to see them spending too much time reading news instead of working.

employees “buy” the intranet with engagement

– anything that tries to steal their attention frustrates them, make them lose time and in the end the “wonderful” intranet satisfies everybody except those who use it. The company becomes less productive, employees are less engaged, their satisfaction decreases. These things should be added to the intranet budget when questionable arbitrations are made.


Image credit : Satisfaction by Rawpixel via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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