Intranet strategy is critical in 2009

January 19, 2009 - 4 Responses
Swift changes in digital communications is shifting business operations to the Web.

Swift changes in digital communications are shifting business operations to the Web.

The corporate intranet is becoming the workstation of today’s global business environment.  As business operations shift to accommodate the swift growth and resounding effects of digital communications, managers are realizing there is value in learning how to harness the power of this critical tool.  However, two common pitfalls often hinder managers as they attempt to wield the technological force of an intranet: lack of strategy and a dry budget. 

Outline strategy for success

When I interned at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Global Communications department, we often referred to the associate intranet, Goodyear Online (GO), as Audrey II.  It was a beast that always asked to be fed.  Intranet managers must be wary of feeding their intranets and employees too much information.  

Plan your strategy before you move to action.

Plan your strategy before you move to action.

A well-thought-out strategy can help reduce the amount of pollution clogging up the server.  In traditional PR fashion, before you begin outlining your plan, it is wise to perform a SWOT (strategies, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis on your company to determine its needs and the best way that an intranet could address those needs.  Once you have conducted the necessary research, ask yourself and your team these questions to help guide your strategy: 

  • What is the purpose of the intranet? 
  • How will employees use it?
  • Which business functions can be supported by the intranet?
  • How much will it cost to create/update/manage?
  • How will you measure the return-on-investment (ROI)?
  • Who will manage the content? 

Define roles and responsibilities

In a recent post, Tom Sommerville, author of the Intranet Insights blog, emphasized the significance of defining the roles of each individual who will assist in maintaining and managing the intranet.  Assigning responsibility is essential to developing and adhering to an effective strategy.  

Your communications team should guide the intranet content.

Your communications team should guide the intranet content.

Ideally, a central communications team with adequate IT support would manage all content being published to the intranet — but this often times is not the case.  Depending on the size of your organization, there may be several or hundreds of different people from various deparments publishing content to a plethora of miscellaneous portals.  This can often lead to server overload and informational clutter.  If this is an issue that your company faces, encourage your communications team to outline content guidelines that can be used and enforced throughout the organization.

Address tough budget issues

Investment in internal communications is a tough sell to corporate executives, especially in this economic slump.  Sommerville offers some helpful tips on how to make your case to upper-management.  Essentially, you should know the value of your assets and be able to articulate that value at any given time.  When you petition your leadership team for additional funds to support intranet-related projects, it helps to have backing from department heads.  Most importantly, however, make sure that you can back up your request with stone-cold facts about the ROI or information about best practices.  This means that you must stay well-informed about intranet trends.

You must be able to defend your intranet strategy with facts when discussing it with executives.

You must be able to defend your intranet strategy with facts when discussing it with executives.

Stay updated on trends

I recently read part of this year’s Global Intranet & Portal Strategies Survey results published by NetStrategy/JMC.  In this insightful report, Jane McConnell, NetStrategy/JMC founder and survey author, covers several key topics including:

  • Intranet strategies;
  • Alignment of intranet strategies with business goals;
  • Guidelines for content and archived information;
  • Social media integration;
  • Search optimization;
  • Customization vs. personalization; and
  • Benchmarking.

At a cost of US$875, I could not afford to purchase the results of the survey in its entirety; I simply read the sample pages.  However, if you are a communications manager interested in creating or revamping your company’s intranet, I certainly recommend adding this report’s cost to your expense account.

For additional information about how to manage your intranet, check out McConnell’s blog Globally Local.

Poll: How do you stay informed?

January 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

This is my first experiment with polling.  I’m interested in learning more about how my readers (you) communicate.  I encourage you to share.  I will try to post a new poll each week.  This poll on how you obtain the news will be open until January 22.  Thank you for participating.

Breaking the ice in the hiring freeze

January 15, 2009 - Leave a Response
Finding a position that fits is difficult during a recession, but not impossible.

Finding a position that fits is difficult during a recession, but not impossible.

It is two weeks into 2009 and I am among the 11.1 million unemployed citizens in the United States.  I began my job search nearly two months ago.  The close of the dismal fiscal year and the holidays seemed to stifle my efforts in the beginning; however, I have discovered a bit of hope.  As a recent college graduate, I find myself better positioned than many because I am an educated, cost-effective hiring option.

Companies are laying off long-time employees by the thousands because it simply costs too much to afford their high-paying salaries and benefit packages.  But a young professional, such as myself, who is looking for a position primarily to gain experience—and who is willing to work hard to succeed—is enticing to many firms because my salary expectations are much more humble.  Not to mention, my education and corporate internship experience have provided me with skills that are necessary to operate in today’s digital business environment. 

Staffing agencies hold promise, opportunity

Although hundreds of companies have instituted hiring freezes, I have had great success in landing interviews by registering with two staffing firms — OfficeTeam and EverStaff.  I highly recommend this method of job hunting as employment opportunities become increasingly harder to track.  Many companies are employing personnel through staffing or temporary-hire firms because, in some cases, it allows them to curb overhead costs.  For example, employees working on a contract basis often remain on the staffing agency’s payroll.

Working with a recruiter or staffing agency can be beneficial to you too.  Here’s why:

  1. Reduces the hassle of the hunt — Recruiters are well-connected and in-the-know about hiring trends and job openings.  They will touch up your resume and help tailor it for available positions that match your skills.  All you have to do is make sure that you are available and prepared for interviews.
  2. Hiring experts guide you through the interview process — Staffing firms are excellent resources for job hunters.  Recruiters are trained professionals who understand interviewing techniques.  They can teach you appropriate responses that will grab the attention of the hiring manager.
  3. Allows you to screen companies — Temporary work may not provide all the benefits of a full-time position; however, for a fresh graduate it provides the opportunity to get to know an employer before fully committing to it.  If the company happens to be a good fit, the position may give you a foot in the door.
  4. Job insurance — Recruiters are there to provide client companies with qualified personnel.  In other words, they have the connections to help you land a job.  If one position doesn’t work out, another is likely to be available.  The agency will continue looking for an assignment that will better suit you. 
Aim to succeed in your job search

Aim for success in your job search--you are sure to find it.

The employment climate is frigid, but it is not unbearable.  I know many of my peers are struggling to brave the treacherous environment.  I encourage you all to remain hopeful and keep trying.  Jobs are out there. 

Landing your dream job is unlikely, but relevant positions are available.  Find one in which you can grow and gain valuable experience that will help you reach your career goals in the future.  Be open to the possibilities.  Good luck!