Guest blog post from Natalia Shvetsova
This is a guest blog from Natalia Shvetsova, Intranet expert and Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) representative in Russia. Natalie was involved in the recent 2010 Russian Best Intranet awards. She is based in Moscow. This is a case study about one of the award winners, Ros Business Consulting, who also rated well in many of the WIC questions.
Top Intranet Tips - Tips from RBC about maintaing & providing content (RBC's end users rated its intranet at number 2 in this category from 37 organisations):
About the Russian Intranet awardsIn early June in Moscow, the 2010 Best Intranet Russia Awards were presented. These awards celebrate intranet teams that achieve great results with their intranets. The competition involved 25 companies from different industries with the number of employees ranging from 100 to 250 000. Winners were identified in 4 categories:
- Intranet as a corporate media
- Intranet as HR tool
- Intranet as management tool
- Intranet Innovations
Second place in the category 'Intranet as a corporate media' was the intranet of RBC Group. RBC also participated in the WIC in 2009. The RBC Group operates in the mass media (an information agency, business television channel RBC TV, online newspapers, and marketing communications) and IT (RBC SOFT) markets. RBC's news strategy is based on the principle that only primary sources of information are proven reliable.
How did RBC rate in the Worldwide Intranet Challenge?
The Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) is an opportunity for intranet managers to obtain feedback from their end users and benchmark this against other organisations. Over 12,000 end users from 37 organisations have participated in the WIC since last year. Feedback from the RBC intranet end users shows that their intranet rated well in the following WIC questions:
Ranked 1 in the question:
- Pages on the intranet load quickly (category ‘Рerformance of the intranet’)
Ranked 2 in the questions:
- Content on the intranet is up-to-date (How the intranet is maintained)
- Effectiveness of the intranet in providing a repository of re-usable documents ( eg. completed presentations, case studies or project documents that are shared on department or organization level)
- Effectiveness of the intranet in providing information for new starters
Ranked 3 in the questions:
- Effectiveness of the intranet in providing templates (eg. presentation, report and letter templates)
- I can find the information I need on the intranet
- The intranet menus help me find the information I need
- I know where I am in the intranet hierarchy
The following chart shows how the RBC intranet scored in the question, 'Content on the intranet is up-todate' (note that participating organisations are represented by a randomly generated 8 digit code).
Interview with RBC intranet manager Anastasia Dobrovolskaja
It seems logical that RBC, the first Russian news agencies specializing in business information, also has an intranet that is recognized as a quality media channel. RBC intranet manager Anastasia Dobrovolskaja (who now works at another company) spoke about the methods her team put into practice in 2009. These methods have improved employee satisfaction with the intranet and as a result has led to an increase in intranet use by 30% last year.
“I think it is the content quality that can raise the value of intranet for business and for end users. We work a lot on maintaining intranet content - ensuring it is always up-to-date. We divide all content by type and keep to the established publishing schedule for each type.
In addition there is the practice of weekly newsletters that we email to all employees. Every Friday staff receive a well designed email with company recent news, summary of new articles (links to the intranet are provided), actual information about company’s programs and social initiatives, messages from varies departments."
Tips for ensuring content is up-to-date
"I think there are 3 important factors that contribute to the high rating by end users and experts for our intranet as corporate media:
- High quality content,
- Keeping end users informed about updates on intranet, and
- Regularity of newsletters.
We carefully follow the publishing schedule:
- News – is published to the intranet as it becomes available
- Theme columns –one or two columns are updated weekly
- Articles – 2 new articles are published each month
- Actions, interactive projects – are timed to the dates or events."
Example of a theme column
"An example of a 'theme column; is the 'Kaleidoscope of opinions'. This column talks about various departments, describes what is specific about them, and describes common characteristics with other parts of organization. In this column, the department manager answers the following questions (with some variations):
- What is your unit’s main activity?
- The most important success of your team recently? What else did you achieve last month?
- What is most lacking to you personally and to your unit?
- What would you change in your work (your unit’s work)?
- What mood prevails in the department this month?
- Who do you think is the ‘person of month’ in our company?
- What interesting and ambitious projects do you plan for the near future?
The benefits of this column include
- Staff members get to know each other better and are more aware of what happens in various parts of organization
- Managers (they are interviewed most often) are pleased to be able to talk about their units. This is the opportunity for them to show the success, great results and also to let off steam
- We do not talk about abstract groups, but real people – to congratulate, praise them, recognize their efforts
- For RBC top-managers it is a barometer of organizational ‘health’, they can see the pain points, new opportunities and respond to it in time
The column improved the intranet’s overall popularity and attendance – everyone is keen to read the new content and then discuss the issues. Usually we publish column’s issues and articles on Thursday and then include it in Friday’s newsletter."
Provide regular updates
"It was important for us to find a right way to inform employees about updates on the site. Before we used weekly newsletters we sent announcements more frequently and irregularly. But we found our staff to be discontented. They regarded such letters as spam and dealt with it accordingly: not only not reading it but also complained about being distracted.
The regular content updating increases the level of attention and trust to the information by end users. They know that on Friday they will find latest news and materials on the intranet and can rely on weekly newsletters to be sure they know about all content updates and everything that is ‘must read’."
"In RBC the intranet currently uses a centralized publishing model. But we plan to introduce decentralized one. For this purpose we plan to establish the 'Institute of corporate journalism'. Every department will have representatives well prepared for writing in intranet.
We would like news to come out more often and to illuminate not only big corporate events, but also smaller ones, that happen in divisions’ life or even in employees’ life."
RBC Intranet Homepage
The following screen shot shows the RBC intranet home page.
2010 Intranet Awards judging criteria
Judges of The 2010 Best Intranet Russia Awards recognized the following aspects of the RBC intranet:
- A consistent page layout,
- Clear and transparent global navigation,
- Accurate labeling of navigation elements, and
- Search field available from every page in standard constant place.
These are also the characteristics that RBC staff have demonstrated high satisfaction with, by participating in the WIC survey.
Benefits of using multiple approaches when assessing intranet value
The RBC case is interesting in that there is a agreement between feedback between the 'experts' and the end user ratings. Experts (judges) assessed intranets based on the tasks described in the entry form. And those tasks have been formulated from the perspective of end users. It brought together both points of views.
RBC and other organizations that conduct end users surveys, expert reviews (including Intranet Awards competitions), focus groups, usability testing, etc., are following the best practice of regular intranet research using multiple methods.
It is unusual for one method to give a comprehensive and complete picture of the intranet, but a set of methods allows a deeper understanding of the factors affecting the diverse evaluations and helps to take them into account when developing an improvement program.
Are you interested in obtaining end user feedback about your intranet?
If you are interested in obtaining feedback from your intranet end users and comparing this with nearly 40 other participating organisations such as RBC, you are encouraged to register for the Worldwide Intranet Challenge. You could potentially obtain a benchmark report within 2 weeks. There is no cost to participate.