Delivering Intranet Success: Mastering Adoption and Engagement
By Ricky Wallace, Marketing Manager, ClearPeople
Internal communication and collaboration is now more than ever, key to business productivity. And when it comes to implementing the systems and staff to make this a reality, there is often a big investment required in terms of time, resources and budget.
So what happens when a shiny new intranet is deployed? Everybody uses it how you envisioned they would, productivity is enhanced and you prove ROI to your senior stakeholders within the first 3 months, right?
Without a thoroughly researched and planned adoption and governance strategy, engagement with a new intranet is not always easy and so we invited intranet and digital professionals from some of the top law firms to a roundtable session recently to discuss their own experiences in intranet adoption.
This report is informed by their opinions and aims to give intranet and comms professionals in the legal sector and beyond an insight into the challenges and opportunities ahead. It is by no means an exhaustive overview but can help you to elicit further discussion within your own organisation.
Adoption and engagement begins with change
“Change is an ongoing process. And every organisation is at a different point in their change cycle.” Rippan Vig, Head of Business Development, Watson Farley & Williams LLP
The rise of digital technologies has brought about inevitable change in business. And this transformation is not just about tools and processes, but more importantly it is about people.
What is change management?
Change management is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organisational success and outcomes. (www.prosci.com)
Steve Perry, Digital Marketing Manager at B P Collins says, “Adoption and change has to come from the top down,” a sentiment echoed throughout the room, agreeing that active sponsorship for change at a senior executive level and ongoing engagement is key to achieve desired results.
It’s important to involve the right people in the design and implementation of any change programme and understand, assess and address how change will affect people – both your workforce and your customers. But why is change happening?
Katya Linossi, Co-founder and MD of ClearPeople discussed the importance of understanding the overall vision and objectives of a business. You can often forget what the original objective was when you get bogged down in an intranet project so she suggests identifying and mapping all the changes that will be required to make, if expected benefits and outcomes are going to be delivered. It is important to illustrate how this change will be enabled and shaped by digital technologies.
Change and adoption are different things
- Moving users from ‘old world’ to ‘new world’ – crossing the Chasm
- Change is a process, not an event
- Change takes time
- Change is made real by what people do
- Habitual use
- Keeping the momentum
- Reduce possibility of reverting to the ‘old world’
- On-going user support and encouragement
Usefulness is key
Without an adoption and engagement programme in place, law firms continue to struggle to ensure that the new technology they implement is fully understood and utilised by their workforce.
Paul Jenkins, Head of IT Projects and Change at global law firm Holman Fenwick Willan explained how their new company intranet met every requirement the firm asked for but that their employees aren’t using it as much as he would like. “It’s symptomatic of the assumption that if you build it, they will come,” he says.
If people are used to working in applications such as Word or Outlook, adding in an intranet can be seen as an obstacle to getting their work done so he is now devising ways where important information from the intranet can be surfaced in the applications his lawyers are using.
This is a point that Global Change & Communications Manager of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Rob Stone agrees with: “If staff are not accessing the information or tools via the new intranet and the traffic is low, they must still be accessing it through the old channels.”
So, it is very important therefore to ensure that you speak to users in great detail to find out their needs and use cases before implementing a build. But what intranet users want and what they need are two very different things.
Deborah Swarts, Professional Support Lawyer at Mills & Reeve LLP commented that often big law firms believe they need an all-singing, all-dancing intranet but often the smaller law firms are the ones getting their strategies right, only building what they need so it is overall more successful and targeted.
Paul Jenkins agrees, seeing the intranet not as a single, amorphous mass but breaking it down into the very small components of what it is – a finance process; a document management system; a people directory etc., and then initiating campaigns to promote the discrete functions.
Monitor and analyse
“If the intranet is the best place to go for particular information, we’ve prevented people from accessing this information in any other way.” Deborah Swarts, Professional Support Lawyer, Mills & Reeve LLP
Seen as the central source of information, the intranet is often used as a document and knowledge repository. But how do businesses ensure that their staff are accessing the most up to date and relevant information and not referring back to saved documents on their desktops or personal folders?
Matt Hindle, Browne Jacobson’s internal communications manager is trying to solve this problem by introducing dashboards and integrating his company intranet with other systems for one source of truth. The key is to continually monitor and analyse how people are using the intranet, where they are going and what they are doing, and then training and encouraging best practice on the use of document management.
Trowers and Hamlins LLP’s Anthony Callan agrees that for a lot of their fee-earners, it’s a matter of training and getting them to learn how to search for documents which is central to good adoption rates. Nominating intranet champions to deliver this training to the rest of the business is a great way of achieving adoption success.
Gamification, explains Kate Ewings, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Memery Crystal LLP has been central to the adoption of other technologies in the organisation such as the CRM. Drawing on people’s inherent competitive nature has seen many internal teams engage more with technologies as an opportunity to be seen as informed as everybody else.
Start from the bottom up?
In contrast to senior level buy-in, often it is new joiners to an organisation, or trainees who carve the way to successful intranet adoption.
Natasha Wiggins, Marketing Executive from Farrer & Co begun her intranet adoption programme with new starters and trainees and their level of engagement then prompted associates to use the system more. “Fear of missing out” then led to longer-term staff deciding to get to grips with the system themselves.
But every organisation is different and a company’s culture can determine the habits, good or bad, that new joiners will pick up.
Sally Roberts, a consultant at 3Kites Consulting rationalised how the younger, more digital-savvy generation is used to digital being easy in their personal lives, but the nature of practice management isn’t so easy and thus adoption of systems that deal with this isn’t as instant and gratifying as they would like. It’s important to make processes as simple and easy as possible. If tools and systems don’t make your working life easier, what is the point in using them?
A simple user experience
Oftentimes an intranet homepage can try and do too much. With lots of departments wanting their messaging front and centre, how do you make the overall experience as intuitive as possible?
Matt Hindle discussed that many users don’t want to click more than 3 times to get to where they want to be so it’s important to get your key user journeys right from the start. “Of course, users won’t mind clicking a few more times than this to get to their desired destination if it is clear they are heading in the right direction,” echoed Sally Roberts.
A drive for exemplary employee experience
“Many businesses are rightly concentrating on enhancing customer experience, but it’s important to give just as much kudos to employee experience.” Katya Linossi, Co-founder and Managing Director, ClearPeople
By making employees working lives as happy as possible, they will in turn be more productive and offer the best possible customer experience. Utilising technology to make your employee’s working lives better is one such way of achieving this. But having lots of disparate systems can be counter-productive – integrating these systems into an enhanced digital workspace is the way forward.
The Digital Workspace is a collection of evolving technologies designed around your user’s needs that will give them the space and freedom to work securely anywhere and on any device. It optimises their experience and engagement with the tools and resources they need to help them be more effective and productive.
Content is king
An intranet is only as good as the content it contains. You need to invest in the content and keep it relevant. If the intranet holds content people can trust, they will come back for more.
But out of date content is a big no-no.
“We turned off our blog because it hadn’t been updated in a year,” said Matt Hindle, “If information is old, people are immediately switched off and won’t buy into it.”
Such user-generated content is a core focus of company intranets. Rippan Vig discussed the importance of people news in her organisation. Day in the Life anecdotes, from everyone from staff in the post room dealing with the Christmas rush to a trainee, spark interest across the organisation.
Bringing this element of fun to an intranet is also a big selling point for Paul Jenkins who recited that intranets don’t have to be stale and boring. Giving your staff the opportunity to feature in news stories on the homepage, introducing Yammer and Twitter feeds into the intranet design and discussing CSR activities brings people together. Deborah Swarts mused that a lost woolly hat in the company toilets that featured in a particular social post still gets talked about to this day!
But how do you ensure that this more personal content has that senior level buy-in we keep talking about? A “nice to have,” is it really a good idea to include in a company intranet? Well the answer was a resounding yes around the room. The point is to encourage staff engagement, and communication and knowledge sharing are the main factors to help achieve this.
“Of course,” explains Rippan Vig, “someone has to be responsible and do an audit of what is acceptable and or out of date.”
With regards to company news, it is often forgotten that the content published externally via the marketing team is extremely beneficial and is really useful to internal knowledge. Knowledge resides in the collaboration between your employees and there are many tools out there like Yammer, Beezy and Microsoft Teams that aim to make sharing easier. But the main point is it is not the technology that is important, it is the processes and people behind it that make it successful.
The Future Digital Workspace of the Lawyer
Where will law firms be in five years’ time? The utopian dream is to truly be able to work from any device, anywhere at any time. But is that dream realistic? The general consensus was it is certainly achievable, but not in the next five years. There will certainly be more automation around processes but with it not being that long since law firms could even market themselves, perhaps they still have a way to go.
The sector is most definitely evolving, bringing in people from different industries and upskilling in technical capabilities. And of course, client demands are changing too. As they demand better rates, law firms will have to adapt and change their business models. So there’s no chance of the industry sitting still.
“The best change ambassadors are the ones who were cynics at the start and had their minds changed.” Matt Hindle, Internal Communications Manager, Browne Jacobson
Too often we speak to clients who have implemented technology solutions but are baffled by its poor user adoption. When deploying a technology solution like an intranet, it’s important to understand that they will live and die by their governance, usability and usefulness.
Technology provides the tools to enable usefulness, but you need knowledge, experience and creativity to engender user adoption and return on investment.
Governance from day one
A successful transition requires governance from the very start to help users overcome the first hurdles of familiarity. As users gain more confidence in using a new system, they’ll uncover ways that it can be more useful so it’s vitally important to communicate with your users and capture their feedback.
Listening to user feedback and turning this valuable insight into improvements motivates them to use the system more and see their ideas turned into reality.
Reliability and ease of use
If your new solution is reliable and easy to use, it’s impact on users will be unquestionable. But remember, all technology solutions should constantly evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs of your users. User-journey analysis and a pro-active managed service delivers long-term value from your technology investment and ensures continued user satisfaction.
The 4 key attributes of successful adoption
- Define a vision and setup
- Prioritise benefits and create an adoption plan
- Commit resources and execute the adoption plan
- Measure, share success, and iterate
With special thanks to
Thank you to all the contributors to this report who attended our intranet adoption workshop:
- Anthony Callan, Trowers & Hamlins LLP
- Kate Ewings, Memery Crystal LLP
- Matt Hindle, Browne Jacobson
- Paul Jenkins, Holman Fenwick Willan
- Katya Linossi, ClearPeople
- Steve Perry, B P Collins
- Matthew Quenby, ClearPeople
- Sally Roberts, 3Kites Consulting
- Rob Stone, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
- Deborah Swarts , Mills & Reeve LLP
- Rippan Vig, Watson Farley & Williams LLP
- Natasha Wiggins, Farrer & Co
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