I am just reading some feedback comments from an organisation who has recently participated in the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC) (the WIC is free intranet benchmark service I provide that allows organizations to obtain and anonymously compare feedback from their employees about their intranets).
Some of these comments aren't very nice.
- “One of the worst Intranet sites I have ever seen.”
- “I cannot find anything, this site is so 1990’s”
- “This intranet is so slow - it’s useless”
If I was the owner of this intranet, I might cry myself to sleep for the next three days. It takes a lot of guts to put your intranet out there for potential criticism from staff. It’s hard not to take this criticism personally and it can have a potentially demoralising effect on the manager and the intranet team.
Benefits of benchmarking
However there is a huge upside. By benchmarking your intranet, you obtain real data - not just anecdotes, hearsay and conjecture.
For example, it might surprise you to know that the comments above were about an intranet that ranked in the top 20% of all intranets (of the 180+ that have participated). If you had just heard or read the comments in isolation without the benchmark data, you might be tempted to think that the intranet was a huge waste of time.
Sure, an intranet is not going to keep 100% of the people happy 100% of the time, but intranet owners need to be careful not to be swayed by the vocal minority. That noisy one percent that remembers the last time they looked for something and couldn't find it and has to let everyone know what a terrible experience it was.
By obtaining real feedback and then benchmarking this feedback, it’s possible to obtain a more balanced and realistic view of how employees view the intranet. This can help intranet owners avoid responding in a knee-jerk way to that noisy one percent. Improvement efforts can be targeted with greater accuracy and a bigger impact.
Prioritise your development efforts
Benchmark data can also be valuable in prioritising what needs improving on the intranet. If you get people complaining that your intranet is too slow and yet the benchmark data shows that in comparison to other intranets, it rates in the top 10%, are you going to commit resources to improving the speed? Probably not.
On the other hand, you may get no complaints about the home page and yet it ranks in the bottom 10% of home pages. You may be better committing your resources to improving this aspect of your intranet.
Benchmarking removes much of the speculation, emotion and subjectivity around prioritising your intranet improvement activities.It provides organisations with a much clearer path forward for improving their intranets.
As Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways said in his recent LinkedIn article, Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions: 10 Tips for Doing it Right, "Operating without feedback is like driving a car with no speedometer, learning to cook without ever tasting your food, or playing basketball without a scoreboard"
So while it can be a potentially daunting experience for Communication and Intranet Managers to get real feedback from their employees about their intranets, the long term benefits are well worth the short term pain.
Benchmark your intranet against 200 other organisations
If you would like to benchmark your intranet why not register for the Worldwide Intranet Challenge. You could have your benchmark results within 2 weeks.