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Creating a Best Practice Self Service Intranet

Self Service Best Practice

A lot of dollars have been invested by companies on implementing internal web sites and more recently on developing HR applications for the intranet to facilitate employee and management ‘self-service’. This idea makes a lot of sense as it helps to increase employee engagement with company goals and procedures as well as reducing workload on internal key personnel and outsourced service companies. This can remove from them the often routine day-to-day trivia enabling them to become more focused on what matters and enables them to control their costs.

As well as this intranets can provide a greater degree of flexibility for individuals and groups as well as assist in the creation of a ‘learning organization’ where change becomes easier and embedded. However, despite what seems to be obvious benefits to both the individual and the organization overall practice shows us that utilisation of these systems is generally very low.

This post offers some best practice pointers we can follow to ensure employees are motivated to use company intranets and self- service facilities.

  • Make sure each business area or department whose services are being delivered on the intranet are involved in the design, implementation, evolution and diffusion of their web sections. Better still, ensure they plan and define their expectations and use of the web to ensure goal attainment – the system is far more likely to be effective if it is business needs driven.
  • Ensure that the end users are monitored continuously and asked for feedback on the design and useability and any later changes you decide to implement.
  • These sorts of initiatives must have enthusiastic support from the very top – and make sure that this is disseminated in a controlled manner.
  • Ensure all information on your intranet is important and relevant to user’s jobs and of benefit to them in their work – it should also be up to date. If you can include aspects of work that they must use, or will be motivated to use because it is simpler (such as booking vacation on line or clearing expenses), that will help increase usage.
  • Make available a searchable, easy to navigate, repository of information. Whilst care should be taken not to overload people with too much information, research shows staff can become more productive if they have easy access on the intranet to a range of standard company documentation.
  • Give recognition for any work published or pages developed to those who created the content. This not only increases motivation but ensures changes can be communicated to the right person, increasing accuracy and reliability.
  • Technically the system must be fast, reliable, and easy to use. If not and staff have to invest time finding information, or struggle with using the system, they will give up. There are detailed best practice guidelines for the technical development of websites available, which include best use of colour, format and content presentation, identifying new items, ensuring no broken links, and reducing the number of clicks/ease of navigation. These should be adhered to.

Things to Avoid:

  • Do not leave it all to the IT department to organise. They can only take responsibility for the technical aspects, not motivating individuals or selling business practices. The strategic effectiveness of intranets can also be adversely affected if content and structure is left solely to IT.
  • Do not assume that staff will start to use it in time, or after a short initial training course. They will need good reasons for using the system as well as ease of use – if there is no value they will not use it!
  • Do not use as a general data repository or an uncontrolled mass-communication device. People suffering from information overload actually reduce the time and effort spent on the system and can miss the information that is valuable. Focus on the relevant.

Developing these areas of best practice should enable companies to ensure that investment in intranets is not wasted and users will actually get some benefit from accessing the information