Implementing an intranet brings many benefits to your company. But how do you make your intranet is run successfully? Nearly any enterprise-level organization will face challenges to intranet adoption, but, that doesn’t mean these intranet challenges should stop you from your workplace’s digital transformation. Intranet success stories and statistics have proven that the risk is worth it, but how can you prepare for – and overcome – these challenges?
In this article, we lay out the barriers and challenges to intranet adoption and offer advice on solving the issues. There are three different kinds of barriers to intranet adoption:
Organizational (internal structure and procedures)
Workforce (internal employees and human resources)
External (outside forces beyond your enterprise)
Each intranet challenge can seem daunting, but when you analyze the situation, all of these barriers can be overcome. While it may take some extra time and effort, this will be time that you put into improving your workplace overall and making the necessary changes for intranet success and business success.
Organizational Barriers to Intranet Adoption
Inability to Work Across the Enterprise Silos
While intranets work to break down silos in the workplace, if department silos already exist, it’s hard to get everyone working together to drive the intranet adoption process. Dion Hinchcliffe of the Dachis Group observed that “social intranets will continue to struggle not from a technology perspective but from lack of collaboration (and sometimes fighting) between internal teams like IT, Human Resources, Marketing, etc.”, which is a cultural challenge.
To overcome this barrier, you need to change the culture of your workplace to focus on collaboration and unity. Think through the ways the divisions are being reinforced in your enterprise, and actively fight against them. Brent Gleeson explains how he did this in his article for Inc.: “We merged teams for better collaboration, implemented new reward mechanisms, reworked reporting structures, redesigned the whole office and literally knocked down walls - literal and figurative.”
Fear of Replacing a Legacy System
Legacy systems are outdated by definition, but they are comfortable. Everything is stored on them, and when your entire business functions on a legacy system, it’s hard to even think about updating. Once you’ve recognized and identified the issues with your legacy system, it’s time to prepare for change. While change is scary, it is necessary to survival in the tech business.
How do you overcome the fear of change? Rip the band-aid off. Niel Nickolaisen, who has spent the last 15 years of his career replacing legacy systems, says the biggest challenge is “convincing the organization to decommission the legacy system once the new system is in production. It seems a human tendency to want to hold on to things we think we might need.”
To successfully replace your legacy system, you have to let it go completely. Otherwise you’ll end up using the old system mixed with the new system, which creates further confusion and keeps your company from advancing. When you are planning to implement your new intranet, also plan the elimination of the legacy system. Take the time to sort through and delete duplicate systems, and keep everyone up to date on the plan as you go to prepare them for the change to come.
Lack of Budgeting
If changes in your budget don’t reflect the changes you need in your internal technology, then you are going to encounter a challenge in intranet implementation. When facing a technological overhaul, budgets should be extended to reflect the monumental changes taking place.
The solution here is to increase the budget and invest the money now that will bring you a ROI in the future. New business technology needs to be a priority in the budget, or your company will be digitally left in the dust. Michael Porter of Perficient worked with a company that was trying to implement new software on a tight budget, “but in order to move from a digital dinosaur to a digital master, they had to invest in business technology like a responsive website and a mobile counterpart. They were missing a holistic approach.” If you are trying to cut corners now, it will catch up with you in the future.
Unorganized Customer and Business Data
If your data is scattered across your enterprise, then unifying it under one large system can seem like a daunting task. And when silos permeate your workplace, your customer or business data is certain to be duplicated or lost within the system. Data is collected and assimilated into systems in multiple ways across departments, and businesses are still stuck in this segmented way of functioning. In a recent survey, Forrester found that “49 percent of companies have yet to implement a strategy to get to a single view” to fix this issue.
Collecting this data can be a challenge, but implementing an integrated intranet system is exactly the single view solution that businesses need. It will store all of your data in one place, and give access to every employee to use it. To overcome this barrier, make streamlining and efficiency a common goal in the workplace. Bring your teams together to figure out where the duplicate data is, and how it’s happening. If you can reduce the redundant information and make a plan for how the new system will fix the problem, then you will be set up for intranet success.
Workforce-level Barriers to Intranet Adoption
This is one of the top intranet adoptions challenges, which makes it one of the focal points of workplace trends. People are typically resistant and reluctant to change, and in order to achieve a successful intranet adoption, you need your employees on board.
To effectively overcome this barrier, you need to approach your intranet implementation as an organizational development activity and view it holistically. It’s going to take a cultural overhaul in your workplace. Take this change as a time to refocus the values to recognize the worth of the employee experience and the role they are going to play in this overhaul.
First, get their feedback. Taking their voice into consideration helps them feel included and heard in the process. And, actually listen to their opinions, because they are the deciding factor in the process. Employees need to know they are going to directly benefit from this change in order to alleviate resistance. Preparing for the human barriers and for the reluctance to change should be number on the intranet adoption to-do list. The technological aspect of implementation should be second.
Internal Management Capabilities
Adopting an intranet is a huge undertaking, and intranet success requires an effective management team. If you do not have the existing human resources in your company to manage the intranet adoption process and the management after implementation, you are going to have problems.
The solution to this issue is to find the right people for the job. If you need to outsource and bring people in, then consider expanding your budget to do so. Don’t let the lack of proper management be a dealbreaker for your intranet success. And take a closer look internally. Take a good inventory of your employee’s skills, because you may be surprised by what you find. Give new opportunities to empower your employees by giving them intranet management roles, but be sure to clearly define these new roles across the enterprise. Get the people you need to guide your company through this change and set you up for intranet success.
Lack of Skills or Knowledge
There are so many companies that fail to recognize the amount of effort they will need to put into training and preparing their staff for intranet adoption. All it does is create a barrier that could have easily been avoided.
Take the time to make sure ALL of your employees understand the intranet. They need to know and understand its functions intimately before you deploy the system. Don’t skimp on the training period. Give every employee a tour of the intranet, even if you did a trial period, to ensure that all questions have been answered. There will be an overload of information at first, but try to make the actual UI as easy as possible to understand, and choose your intranet tools carefully so you don’t bombard your employees with options.
Remember, the learning curve and education process of your intranet adoption will be ongoing, so continue to hold trainings, ask for feedback, and answer employees’ questions. Maintain that holistic, long-term approach for intranet success.
External Barriers to Intranet Adoption
Many business-owners label cybersecurity as one of the top barriers to intranet adoption. Any time that you are collecting your most important data and gathering it into one system, there will be fear of outside intrusion. There’s also a fear of internal abuse by employees who will have access to sensitive information. Using a third-party provider adds another layer of fear onto that as well. It’s a bit like a multi-layered cake, but instead of chocolate they used asparagus.
While security is always a challenge, intranet software provided by third-parties are completely responsible for your intranet’s security, which means the responsibility is off of your company. Vendors go to great lengths to make sure their systems are secure, and storing information on the cloud is more secure than you might think. If this is a concern, make sure your potential vendor explains the security in place to you, and find a vendor who has “trustworthy upload and download software that is open-source and has been validated by independent security researchers,” says engineer Haibin Zhang in his article on The Conversation.
Client or Stakeholder Backlash
Although your employees and internal team might be on board with the intranet adoption, you may receive external backlash from clients/customers, shareholders, or partners who are not prepared for this digital transformation.
To overcome this barrier, you need to take that same internal mindset of change you had with your employees and expand it to everyone who interacts with your enterprise. McKinsey & Company says to “sell” the vision to stakeholders you need to “think of the change program as a product and brand it.” You are going to need to view the whole intranet solution as a product that your stakeholders need to buy into, and you are going to have to brand and market that. Same goes for clients. Try to target the key people that you will need to influence and let them help you do the work of setting you up for intranet success.
Navigating Vendors and Solutions
There are a lot of options out there now for intranet solutions. It’s hard enough to choose one from the sea of options, but then you also have to find one that actually works with your business-style.
There are a lot of ways to compare intranet software online that can help start you in your search for the perfect solution. Then, start doing your internal research. Get employee feedback and create business objectives for your new solution. What issues do you want your intranet solution to solve? What are the most important features for your employees? The clearer the goals and objectives you have set, the easier the selection process will be. Reach out to vendors and ask them questions to see if their responses match your business style and goals. Navigating the vendors and finding the right solution will be much easier if you do the research and compile your data ahead of time.
The bottom line: it’s worth overcoming these barriers
Reading this list of barriers may be overwhelming. There are definitely a lot of obstacles in the way of a digital transformation, but the bottom line is that these barriers are all rooted in a fear of change, and change is inevitable. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and continuing to use your outdated software because of the fear of change will put your business in danger in the long run. If you don’t move with the times, then you will get left behind.
According to a recent Gartner study, “digital transformation efforts are paying off: 56% of CEOs said that their digital improvements have already increased profits.” The payoff for this change is real and quantifiable.