What stuff should I add to my Intranet?

Nina Platt of the Strategic Librarian blog has written an excellent series of posts asking "What functionality and content should I add to my Intranet" this is like opening up a can of worms to a hungry school of worm eating fish. But it made me think about our Intranet and how we could make it more useful and perhaps more interesting.

In Part 1 of her series Nina looks at what you need to consider when scoping the Intranet. Generally when looking at developing at Intranet you'll be tying its goals into the firms goals so the following questions should help you understand what you're trying to achieve.

  • What is the purpose of the intranet?
  • What problems are we solving?
  • How can the intranet increase productivity?

However you might have more specific goals like:

  • Improve communication across the firm
  • Improve employees access to information
  • Improve processes that are currently paper based but could be automated
  • Create a means for collaboration
  • Integrate content across disparate applications
  • Maintain native security of enterprise applications

In Part 2 Nina looks at an Intranets "Information Architecture" outlining two ways in which Intranets within law firms are organised. A traditional approach is to organise an Intranet so that it mimics the firms structure for example Business Services would be a menu option followed by Facilities, Finance, Marketing, Knowledge etc etc.

An alternative approach and something I haven't seen yet is to organise the Intranet around tasks so if you were to click on the menu heading Research you would then be presented with a list of tasks you might want to undertake, for example Search Westlaw, Search LexisNexis, Find a book, Ask a question etc etc.

As Nina indicates this might be a better way to organise an Intranet or a combination of this and the organisational structure might work well. In Part 3 Nina describes how a combination of tasks and organisational structure works in practice refering to the award winning Intranet of Law Firm Bennet Jones this uses a task and organisational based structure to present information to users. As Nina suggest is sounds "messy" but looking at some of the examples Nina has provided I can see how that might work well in practice.

Ultimately at the heart of any Intranet structure is the ability for users to find information quickly and easily or to perform a task, ensuring your Intranet performs this function will ensure it is well valued.