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Why Intranets Fail Reason #5: The intranet gatekeeper’s approach

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Simpplr Research

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February 26, 2019

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We’re continuing our Why Intranets Fail series. For more information about this extensive research project, read this post.

The intranet gatekeeper and intranet failure

When the first intranets arrived in the mid-1990s, they were basic, static websites. They required a gatekeeper, or an individual with the technical skills to set up, maintain, and update the intranet. Many organizations still use this model today, either because their technology requires it (as with many SharePoint implementations) or because they never modified their processes.

The problem with this model is that keeping the intranet up-to-date and moving at the speed of business becomes very difficult. When, for example, only one person is capable of making content updates, a backlog of changes typically accumulates. This backlog reduces the speed with which critical information can be shared and forces trade-offs that mean some information is neglected. Ultimately, intranets fail under this model because the content and information aren’t up-to-date and do not reflect what’s needed.

Enter the age of point-and-click administration

Originally the hub-and-spoke model was built out of necessity. But today technology has advanced so that updating an intranet is just as easy as publishing a blog like this one. With point-and-click administration, organizations don’t need to rely on gatekeepers.

And point-and-click administration enables “Federated Ownership”

Now not only can non-technical resources manage the intranet’s themselves, but changes the whole manner in which an intranet is maintained and administered. The organization can switch to a more federated administration model that shares the administrative burden across departments, fail-safes reliance on a subset of individuals, and encourages wide-scale engagement across the organization. Under this approach, various domain experts carve out time to be site managers. For example, someone in the finance department owns updating and maintaining the finance site.

Wherever permissible, you want to encourage a distributed administration model. This approach works better than gatekeeping because it distributes knowledge and engagement across the board, allowing constant communication to permeate the business.

Where industry stands today

In our annual State of the Intranet survey, we see that the intranet industry is currently equally distributed among administration models: generally speaking, a third of intranets are still owned by technical admins, slightly fewer are centrally managed by non-technical admins, and a third have moved on to the more mature distributed administration model.

state of intranet survey intranet update

See how a federated administration works

To learn more about how this administration model works, watch Simpplr’s 10-minute demo here. It shows how different personas across an organization can collectively own intranet administration and keep intranet’s updated at the speed of business.

Avoid intranet failure! Read our Why Intranet Fails blog series:

Why Intranets Fail Reason #1: The purpose isn’t clear or purposeful
Why Intranets Fail Reason #2: Unclear ownership and governance
Why Intranets Fail Reason #3: Executives aren’t engaged in the process
Why Intranets Fail Reason #4: Build or buy your intranet to avoid deployment failure
Why Intranets Fail Reason #6: Intranet becomes a content dumping ground
Why Intranets Fail Reason #7: Multiple sources of truth
Why Intranets Fail Reason #8: Users complain that content simply isn’t relevant
Why Intranets Fail Reason #9: Poor user interface and information architecture

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