The benefits of corporate intranets for employees are not always obvious to the executives that need to invest in them. I think it's partly because it's difficult to measure the benefits of intranets, and partly because corporate intranets support employees on a day-to-day basis more than executives and decision makers. It's a bit like trying to understand the necessity of a transit system when you drive a car.
That said, here are some overall benefits of intranets for executives and employees:
- Dashboarding and reporting — Intranets can support dashboards and reporting systems that communicate the overall health and performance of organizations.
- Supporting records management compliance — Intranets with built-in records management capabilities can help support compliance.
- Communicating and engaging with employees — Blogs, announcements, discussion boards, news, and announcements on intranets can all support communication between executives and employees.
- Staying in touch — Intranets used by employees can be a great way for executives, who may not be in touch with day-to-day activities, to see what is going on.
- Saving time finding the right information — This is one of the more obvious benefits, although calculations of the amount of time employees waste everyday finding what they need vary.
- Reducing time spent on administration — Ideal intranets make administrative things like finding and submitting forms, getting IT help, dealing with employee benefits, ordering supplies, and finding out about relevant procedures easy.
- Improving capacity and collaboration in areas of expertise — Maturing beyond corporate communication and administrative purposes, intranets support collaborative activities and team work, which helps experts in their fields of work.
- Capturing knowledge that needs to get passed to new or transferring employees — This is done through a good information architecture, easy authoring tools, and tools like wikis and blogs.
- Improving transparency and sharing of information — Maintained and up-to-date intranets help support an atmosphere of openness and transparency and are tools for employees to share information with their organizations.
- Locating the right people — A good people finder and search help people find out who does what, and who they need to contact about anything from how to handle a difficult project issue to getting software.
- Planning careers — This is especially apparent in large organizations, where easy-to-access and clear information about departments, groups, and people helps people plan careers within their companies.
- Increasing engagement with organizations — This is also more important in large organizations. Online discussion boards, blogs, wikis, photos, and surveys are easy ways to find out what is going on and can help employees engage more with their organizations.
- Creating a positive image of organizations — Last but not least, good intranets engage and support employees in the work they do, and are an opportunity to give employees a positive image of where they work.
If you know of other intranet benefits, I'd love to hear about them.