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Why Intranets Fail Reason #7: Multiple sources of truth

Written by

Simpplr Research


March 13, 2019


In our previous post, we talked about avoiding intranets from becoming a content dumping ground. In this post, we’ll talk about the consequences of having multiple systems of record that lead to employee confusion and distrust in your intranet software.

Intranet Technology Trends

Two notable trends are often cited when we justify the importance of intranet technologies: 1) the workplace is becoming more distributed, with more remote workers and more office locations than ever before, and 2) we live in an age of counterproductivity because employees simply have too many systems to log into. Individual productivity apps are great, but collectively they’re a massive headache for employees. These two trends are making it harder for coworkers to connect, communicate, and get work done. The information and applications explosion is causing intranet managers to take a cautious approach with their content.

Information is spread all over the place. In our survey, respondents from 16 percent of organizations cited having multiple sources of truth as a contributing factor to an intranet failure. Nineteen percent of organizations have multiple intranets. And in 48 percent, different departments and locations use different knowledge bases.

Align your workforce with one intranet

First, if your objective is to connect and align the workforce across distributed locations and departments, you need one intranet. Multiple intranets defeat the purpose and further the cultural divide between teams.

Why your intranet shouldn’t be a hub for everything

It’s not realistic to use your intranet as an “everything hub.” Contrary to conventional wisdom, our findings show that seeing the intranet as the hub of the digital workplace is a flawed mentality because it: 1) becomes an untenable goal, 2) undermines the goal of being a focused and highly curated place to bring employees clarity, and 3) is at the root of many points of failure revealed in this research.

Where should organizations draw the line? There isn’t an easy answer. Where possible, companies should have a single intranet for critical organization-wide news, updates, and policies. As information becomes relevant only for a given location or team, the intranet should still be the place for important updates (the stuff you don’t want lost in email), and that information should be smartly targeted to the affected subset.

This is why having a clearly articulated purpose is so important. It elevates the conversation and clarifies what should and should not be included. As noted earlier, departments should challenge the organization and fight for “less is more” thinking.

How are some tips to help you prevent having multiple sources of truth:

Don’t try to turn your intranet into an everything hub

It may sound counterintuitive, but you can have multiple, mutually exclusive sources of truth. Just don’t have multiple ‘intranets’. Internet’s should focus on housing information that is critical, curated, in-demand, and typically relevant across departments. But intranets should also draw and line and defer to other sources.

House all approved applications in the intranet launchpad

Set your intranet to be the gateway of all applications. If an application isn’t on the intranet, then employees shouldn’t use it. Prioritize and formalize all your applications to the launchpad, and archive the ancillary applications that are not in the launchpad.

Use your intranet to clarify which technologies are used

Just as your intranet needs a clearly defined purpose, tangential technologies must have clarity of purpose. This will help determine what goes where.

Look for examples of systemic duplication

For example, if you find someone maintaining an intranet in one corner of the organization and someone else putting the same content in a ticketing system, the issue should be raised with your governance committee.

Use document versioning to keep files updated and in a single place

Uploading various versions of the same document will lead to confusion. Use an intranet that will allow you to update files through document versioning to avoid old, outdated content.

Don’t confuse multiple systems of record with your channel strategy to meet employees where they are

Particularly with employee communications, hooking people back to the intranet by integrating with chat outlets, social portals, emails, newsletters, mobile apps, and visual signage is a best practice.

The ultimate goal

Aside from the tips above, the goal is for your organization to share the mindset: ‘if it’s not in the intranet, it doesn’t exist’.

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 #5: The intranet gatekeeper’s approach
Why Intranets Fail Reason #6: Intranet becomes a content dumping ground
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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