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Stage 1

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F R A M E W O R K â„¢

Stage 1


Communication & Information-Sharing Intranets

First-generation department-level intranets are used primarily for communication and information sharing. Generally established by entrepreneurially-minded employees, they focus on communicating a department’s purpose and activities to the rest of the company, and are usually sponsored by middle-level managers within the departments. These intranets are rarely enterprise-wide.


Stage 1 intranets rarely include significant functionality. They are usually built on homegrown, entry-level technology platforms and offer disparate user experiences. Most intranets in this stage are typically static HTML pages or are built with in-house content management solutions. Smaller companies are increasingly using wikis for communication and information sharing, but at this point, adoption among large organizations remains limited.


Current State


These intranets are chiefly sponsored at the department or team level and lack formal sponsorship. In some cases, sponsorship simply takes the form of the local technology support group, which provides server space and uploads files to it when necessary. As these intranets gain popularity, corporate communications departments take control of the intranet and use it to publish company news to employees.



Stage 1 intranets lack formal governance models with few documented guidelines, policies and procedures. Governance, if it exists in any formal capacity at all, is restricted to a specific department, with little involvement from employees outside of it. Junior level employees typically mange the intranet in their free time and do not coordinate their activities with other groups. As a result, they use their own personal judgment when making governance decisions and rarely involve other employees.


User Needs:

These intranets focus primarily on meeting the most basic of employee needs. Some examples include: Employee contact information and organizational charts; Department or team level objectives and orientation; Department or team level news and events; Department or team level accomplishments; Department or team level templates and guidelines; Department or team level best practices. Stage 1 intranets also serve employees visiting from other departments in the organization.


Experience Design:

Since communication and information sharing intranets are designed by "entrepreneurial employees" who have other jobs, they lack strong information architecture, visual design, usability and accessibility. Also, since they are an amalgamation of hundreds (in some cases, thousands) of department-level web pages, they lack a consistent look and feel, global and local navigation systems, standardized nomenclature and other publishing standards.



These homegrown intranets use entry-level technologies, such as the most basic content management systems. Other technologies used often include HTML, ASP, JSP, PHP and Flash. Corporate technology standards are ignored with these types of intranets. Many of them are built using first-generation web development tools like Microsoft Front Page and Dreamweaver from Macromedia.



Limited user training is conducted for communication and information sharing intranets. When training is conducted, emphasis is placed on making sure that every user has access and is viewing the intranet using company approved machines and web browsers. Publisher training is virtually unheard of with these intranets.



Stage 1 intranets gain adoption slowly, largely because they are disjointed and difficult for employees to use. They are also not marketed effectively and generally lack executive support.


ROI Metrics:

Since these intranets are not measured against clear business objectives, ROI analysis is rarely performed. But since Stage 1 intranets do not cost much, senior managers rarely worry about the ROI.


Key Takeaways


While communication and information-sharing intranets lack executive sponsorship, a unified user experience and clear objectives, their value is still significant, especially in relation to their cost. For a large company the benefits of being able to communicate daily with its employees in an inexpensive, electronic fashion are numerous. Furthermore, while the information sharing may happen in a haphazard fashion, the collaborative spirit of the information sharing should be recognized and encouraged.


These intranets typically evolve by consolidating user experiences, establishing publisher guidelines and instituting basic governance models to coordinate the activities of the various webmasters. This channel to deliver corporate messages should incorporate new technologies, such as internet video and podcasting as well as mobile devices.


One company interviewed uses its communication and information-sharing intranet to share company policies, sales strategies, UPC codes, vendor information and market share statistics with its sales force. Their intranet was redesigned with input from the sales force and subject matter experts who prioritized the content. Intranet usage shot up by over 800% after the redesign. Sales representatives now promote the intranet themselves by encouraging new employees to access it. Do your employees encourage others to use the intranet?



External Resources


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