First CWP meetup reveals what makes or breaks an intranet

The first Common Web Platform (CWP) meetup was held at SilverStripe headquarters on 15 June, 2017. The event attracted over 30 people eager to learn about what trends we’re seeing in intranets and what to watch out for when building one. We also had demonstrations of what Government agencies are doing in this space.

The 'Intranets in the Public Sector' Lunch & Learn

We started with an introduction to intranets, uncovering pitfalls in building and running one, and revealing trends we’re seeing across CWP.

View my slides on SlideShare

Two speakers from the government agencies also demonstrated their own intranet built on the Common Web Platform. Jennifer Geard (Web Editor, Pharmac) showed us Pharmac's intranet where CWP functions helped keep things simple for their staff and open to user-led change. Benn Crawford (Product Owner, Department of Internal Affairs) presented the Beta PSI Public Sector Intranet). Benn shared some impressive stats for the Beta PSI:

  • 220 publishers with 581 page edits every 2 weeks
  • 19,490 community users
  • 6,000 sessions per month across 162 agencies.

Common threads in talks and group discussions

1. Be clear on your intranet’s purpose

Prioritise what is most important, and don’t try to be all things to all users. Having a clear purpose (whether it’s communication like the PSI or culture for Pharmac) will help dictate the priorities for features, integrations and content. If everything is deemed important, then really nothing is important!

Whatever you choose to make, have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve.

Benn Crawford

Purpose also helps you decide goals and metrics. Intranets should be measured just like other websites. The Department of Internal Affair’s Beta PSI uses Google Data Studio to create custom analytics dashboards to share with content creators to help them understand how their content performs.

2. Treat your intranet as a service, not just a project

While website projects are more likely seen as ongoing services, intranets are often treated as one-off projects. This makes it hard to maintain momentum and engagement beyond launch. Intranets need to be constantly evolving and updated to hold value — their audiences are repeat visitors who will disengage if the content isn’t timely, relevant and fresh. Consider how you will support the intranet post-launch to deliver ongoing value.

An intranet shouldn’t be a set-and-forget. We should always refine and reorganise once something has been put into practice.

Benn Crawford

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but also to cull

Across both demos, there was an approach of creating Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and then experimenting on these. Jennifer shared great examples of experimenting but also being comfortable with failed experiments. Not every feature Pharmac tried has worked, but they were confident to remove those and move forward with new ideas.

What’s next?

Sign up to the CWP meetup group to get notified of future events.

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