The right intranet for us

There is no such thing as a generally good tool; there are only tools good for particular jobs. Contrary to the hopes of countless managers, technology is not an infinitely elastic piece of fabric that can be stretched to cover any situation. Instead, a good social tool is like a good woodworking tool–it must be designed to fit the job being done, and it must help people do something they actually want to do.
Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody, p 265

Launch day is approaching. We have about 50 workdays (excluding vacations) before our 35,000 employees at Region Skåne start using the new intranet. Between now and launch day the intranet team has a lot more to build, write and test.

Our new intranet will really be NEW. Two years ago it was decided we should not develop the old solution any more. Too much bad content and outdated tech made it necessary to start from the beginning again. Because of this, one could look at the intranet project as 20+  iterations/activities done at the same time. During these 18 months we deliver:

  • Intranet mission, vision and objectives
  • User needs analysis, target group analysis
  • CMS evaluation, choice of technology and installation
  • Model for content classification
  • Model for personlisation and initial onboardning
  • Model for structure and navigation
  • Graphic design
  • 10–15 templates
  • Unit work spaces (think SP sites but easy to use)
  • News section (and model for producing news items)
  • Warnings section (and model for producing warning items)
  • Systems access section (and model for producing system pages)
  • Search section
  • Model for how to handle educational content on the intranet (should be in the LMS – the HR unit’s responsibility)
  • Model for how to handle documents (documents should be in a DMS – the Records and archiving unit’s responsibility)
  • Staff Directory
  • Web analysis tools
  • Calendar function
  • Core content: section/tab My employment, section/tab Self service, section/tab About the organization, section/tab Provide healthcare
  • Job role sections for managers, for comms officers (and model for producing more specialized content for other job roles)
  • Personalized start page
  • Governance model, processes and guidelines
  • Access from home and with BYOD

What content should the new intranet have? What is important for the end-users? In order to know that, you have to ask them – and observe them. Otherwise there is a risk of focusing on the wrong content.

One way to ask them is to conduct a user needs analyses using the top tasks model (championed by Gerry McGovern, Fredrik Wackå et al). We asked 1,200 employees what they need in their work. This is our Top-20 end-user needs list, filtered for our primary user group (healthcare staff):

Needs Solution
1. Medical guidelines and procedures In the units’ work spaces (most of this information is ultra-local, relevant only for one unit) + section/tab Providing healthcare
2. Search (finding an answer about a job-related question, a colleague, an anonymous colleague with a specific competence…) Global function in the header + Staff directory
3. Local news (info/news about my own unit) In the unit work space + on My start page
4. Staff training, skills development Section/tab My employment
5. Pay, compensation, benefits Section/tab My employment
6. Diseases information, infection control Section/tab Providing healthcare
7. Working hours, leave, absence Section/tab My employment
8. My schedule In the unit work space (no global tool exists, many different solutions in the organization)
9. Medical error reporting and handling Section/tab Providing healthcare
10. Sampling instructions, analysis ”portal” Section/tab Providing healthcare
11. IT problems, maintenance info Global alert function in the header
12. Support, manuals, it error reporting Section/tab Self service
13. Vacancies/job opportunities Section/tab My employment
14. Staff wellness/work culture Section/tab My employment
15. Crisis and disaster routines Section/tab About our organization
16. Safety procedures Section/tab About our organization
17. Research findings, new findings related to my profession/our team mission In the unit work space + in My job role (if available)
18. Global news (info/news concerning the whole organisation and my subsiduary) on My start page
19. Patient logistics (available hospital beds and patient waiting times) Section/tab Providing healthcare
20. Medical equipment (info, manuals, support) Section/tab Providing healthcare
21. Order medical products and services Section/tab Providing healthcare

Every color above represents 25 percent of the votes. Not on this list is another 40 needs sharing the last quarter of the votes. The top need was 30 times more popular than the bottom need (how to manage a project). Pretty obvious we are a healthcare organization, don’t you think? Needs No 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, 19, 20 and 21 are directly linked to medical care. In fact, you could say the section/tab Providing healthcare is a big job role for our main end user group (doctors, nurses, assistant nurses).

This Top tasks test tells the intranet team what content to focus on when building pages, what to prioritize on the start page and which things that should be 3-4 clicks away in the structure (e.g. project management). (Actually, project management info might end up in a Job role section for project managers in the future, visible only for the right employees.)

We have tested the structure thoroughly. Hundreds of end-users have done card sorting and tree testing exercises. And in September we will do the final tests with all of the beta intranet online.

Hopefully, this intranet will be appreciated by the end-users!

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