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Intranet governance: Why it matters and how to set it up

Intranet governance: Why it matters and how to set it up

Jonathan Davies


See how an intranet works

Learn how an intranet works with this short video.

13 mins read

Mon, Sep 4, '23  

Intranets are powerful tools, but without proper governance, they can become chaotic spaces that disengage employees. The lack of engagement doesn't just affect morale—it has financial consequences as well. US businesses lose between $450-500 billion annually due to disengaged employees.

Understanding and implementing intranet governance is one way you can help combat low engagement levels. The secret behind successful intranet governance is having a clear structure, engaged ownership, and defined responsibilities.

Join us as we break down the significance of intranet governance for modern workplaces and actionable steps to implementing it.

What is intranet governance?

Intranet governance is the systematic approach to managing, maintaining, and optimizing a company's intranet platform. It's not just about setting up the intranet and letting it run; it's about creating a dynamic framework that adapts to the organization's ever-evolving needs.

When executed correctly, intranet governance ensures that the intranet remains a relevant and efficient tool for all employees. It also outlines the ownership and maintenance protocols for different intranet elements, ensuring that the platform aligns with the company's broader objectives and remains user-centric.

At its core, intranet governance includes the policies, structures, and guidelines that ensure a consistent and effective digital workplace. It consists of four main components:

Defining roles and responsibilities

Effective intranet management relies on the assignment of suitable individuals to specific tasks.

  • Site owner: Manages their respective site and ensures alignment with the intranet management plan.
  • Content manager: Ensures compliance with content guidelines, maintains content quality, and facilitates regular updates.
  • Project manager: Oversees the development and execution of the intranet management plan.

Establishing content guidelines

Creating content guidelines is vital to maintain pertinent, high-quality intranet content that aligns with organizational goals. These guidelines should encompass permissible types of content, desired tone and style, and instructions for images and multimedia. Communicating these guidelines to all intranet contributors is essential.

Controlling user access and permissions

Effective management of user permissions and access guarantees appropriate information retrieval. The key is to balance granting content access and safeguarding intranet security. Regularly reviewing and updating user permissions enables efficient access control.

Implementing security measures

Security measures play a vital role in intranet management by protecting against unauthorized access and malicious activities. These measures include user authentication, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular security audits. Be sure to update them regularly to counter growing threats. Additionally, having a security incident response plan is imperative.

What are the barriers to intranet governance?

Governance involves orchestrating multiple elements — from policy creation to stakeholder involvement — to ensure an intranet’s success. However, like many intricate mechanisms, there are obstacles to overcome.

Lack of resources

The ideal intranet infrastructure is robust and adaptive, but achieving this requires substantial resources. A fully functional intranet doesn't solely rely on technological systems; it needs human capital to manage, monitor, and update its content.

Under-resourced organizations are more common than not. These constraints make it tough to allocate the necessary resources to develop and maintain an impactful intranet, whether due to a lack of funding, staffing shortages, or limited technical expertise.

It is possible to overcome this limitation in a few ways. Your organization can start dedicating more resources to your intranet system. Or, you can choose a pre-built intranet solution like Happeo that can be fully operational in less than 6-8 weeks and includes a dedicated IT team.

Time constraints

Intranet governance is not a one-off task; it demands continuous attention. This ongoing commitment becomes challenging when employees already juggle multiple responsibilities. Underestimating the time required for effective governance can lead to neglect, inconsistency, and, eventually, intranet failure.

Tackling this obstacle involves a clear delineation of ownership and accountability. Establishing regular check-ins, reporting structures, and delegating specific responsibilities helps maintain governance.

Poor technical infrastructure and user experience

In the absence of technical governance, platforms can become slow and glitchy. Poor user experience, whether due to technical issues or lack of focus on user experience, can alienate users and content creators. Employees may become disengaged when unable to access information due to a failing intranet.

Addressing these challenges requires a balanced approach — investing in reliable, high-performance technical infrastructure while also prioritizing user-friendly design and intuitive navigation.

Lack of stakeholder buy-in

Every successful intranet initiative requires the backing of its stakeholders. An intranet perceived as a mere technological tool rather than a strategic business initiative may struggle to gain traction.

Public endorsement and active involvement from senior leaders, IT departments, and other key stakeholders is essential for intranet governance and adoption.

Politics of intranet ownership

The dynamics of ownership and control can introduce unnecessary politics into intranet governance. When only a few stake claim to the intranet, it reduces its value as a collaborative tool. In addition, without a clear governance structure, departments might use the intranet differently. This divergence complicates matters and can lead to duplicated efforts, wastage of resources, and a compromised user experience.

Implementing a collaborative governance model, where a representative committee oversees the intranet's operations, can reduce political friction and enhance collective ownership.

How to establish intranet governance

An effective intranet governance plan ensures that your intranet evolves with your organization's needs while preserving its core objectives and purpose. Here are some key elements to consider when establishing or transitioning to a new intranet system.

1. Purpose identification and validation

Every intranet platform should have a clear, single purpose driving its design and implementation. An intranet might serve various departments differently, but all departments should have a common foundation for why and how they use the intranet.

An excellent first step is establishing a usage policy that explains the purpose of the intranet. For instance, is your platform mainly designed for collaboration on projects or social interaction?

Your policy should also clarify what content is permissible and how employees should use the intranet. Should users show personality and humor or remain professional?

Setting some guidelines can help everyone get on the same page and use the intranet as intended.

2. Strategy development and road mapping

Clarifying how employees should use the intranet is an essential first step, but more is needed. You should also consider the organization’s goals and plan your intranet accordingly.

Your strategic roadmap can include specific milestones, short-term goals, and long-term objectives. You can also benchmark your intranet against these goals to identify improvement opportunities.

3. Role definitions and permissions

Establishing well-defined roles ensures smooth operations. From steering committees to content editors, understanding everyone's responsibilities and granting appropriate permissions is crucial.

Within larger organizations, it’s common to have a steering committee that includes members from different departments. This committee oversees the growth and usage of the intranet, ensuring alignment with all departments' interests without bias towards any particular department or stakeholder.

Even in smaller organizations, it helps to think about the different roles required to help run and moderate the company intranet.

4. Content governance and lifecycle management

A well-structured content strategy informed by user research supports effective intranet governance. Lifecycle management — including content creation, approval, review, and archiving — is fundamental for keeping your intranet current and avoiding information chaos.

Consider these factors when managing intranet content:

  • What types of content align with your intranet strategy?
  • What roles are responsible for publishing and moderating particular kinds of content?
  • Who can make updates?
  • How will new users be taught to use the intranet?
  • How easy will it be for employees to find information as your company expands?
  • Will user-generated content be vetted and managed?

5. Technical and compliance protocols

Intranets have specific industry standards for security, legal compliance, and IT infrastructure. You need a governance review every time you change or upgrade existing rules.

Risk due diligence and security compliance checks include these protocols for organizations with a dedicated IT department. Smaller organizations, however, may need help managing it. You can remain compliant without effort by outsourcing your intranet solution to a secure platform like Happeo, which employs world-class IT specialists.

6. Feedback and continuous improvement

A dynamic intranet governance framework considers user feedback and implements solutions to common user pain points. Your intranet solution should include mechanisms for collecting user feedback, as well as the ability to act on that data. Otherwise, your intranet is at risk of a low adoption rate.

In addition, employees may be less engaged and less productive if they find it challenging to access the information they need due to a poorly designed intranet.

7. Use the right software

Modern workplaces require digital solutions for storing and filing information to enable in-office, remote and hybrid teams to function effectively. A company's intranet is crucial to ensuring smooth operations, no matter where employees are located. In addition, central software that connects all sources of information within an organization makes intranet governance much easier.

A federated intranet that integrates with all the other tools you require to run your business is the key to replacing your internal website with a modern social intranet. Imagine using one search bar to find information across your digital tools, from Google Drive to Jira. That’s the power a modern intranet can offer.

Happeo is the intranet that makes governance easy

At Happeo, we believe in the power of a good intranet. That’s why we’ve gone above and beyond to deliver a modern intranet that facilitates social connections and real-time collaboration wherever your employees are.

By connecting to all the tools your business can’t live without, your employees will have a user-friendly and intuitive intranet that can increase productivity by up to 20%.

With Happeo, you can rest assured that intranet governance is built-in and intuitive from the moment you get set up. See it for yourself by booking a demo with one of our governance experts today.