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10 ideas for your new SharePoint 2010 intranet!

So your SharePoint intranet is branded, now time for the content? Here’s some ideas..

Over the last few years we have developed a host of different intranets. From the socially focused ones to the business focused and there in-between. Recently we have just developed an intranet for Capgemini and it was in our opinion the perfect mix of in terms of content, mixing social and business to get a happy medium.

Here are some ideas that you people out there may find useful when creating your new company intranet.

1. Company jargon / Acronym buster!

We all know what it’s like working in an organisation where they talk the language of Acronym! So a nice little A-Z of acronyms and any other made up words for those people that don’t know what they all mean! Using SharePoint 2010, this is perfect example of where wiki pages can be used.

2. New Starter Pack

When we take on new projects we are all effectively the ‘new starter’ so we are perfectly placed to say whether or not a ‘new starter pack’ would be useful for not for all those important, boring details new starters need to know, e.g fire exits, who the high level managers are, what’s on the menu for the canteen etc..

3. Buy, sell, swap shop facility

This is an idea that is hit and miss. One example I saw was they used it alot, people loved it and it was a key driver to the intranet. On the other hand, people were advertising firearms on there (I am not joking). If they work then its one easy place to get rid, sell, swap your unwanted items quickly & easy! And if your intranet has one office location, you can save money on the delivery!

4. Location based information

Information based on where you are can make your life so much easier. So why not have on your intranet all the information based on where your working such as local taxi numbers, the best restaurants – which you could even review, train times if your outside of London, London tube map & service information as well as local good hotels & the low down on the best travel routes & roads to avoid! You could go a step further and change that location based on where you login!

5. The social & fun side

The happy mix of business & social is perfect. Where you have a bunch of important information, why not show some interesting quotes with a few fun ones in there. You can do this vica versa to, mixing important company information with the photo galleries & not forgetting the Dilberts! everyone in IT loves those cartoons.

6. Graphical company timeline

An idea I haven’t have the chance to put into fruition yet, but what about something like what Kelloggs timeline, they have done? Cool hey. Well what about something like that for your company intranet, detailing all key points of the organisation, why they are important & who is making the company great etc..

7. Video fault, *insert-company-name-here*Tube – basically, videos!

The way people see information is changing, always envolving and with the way we can view things on multiple devices, platform etc, then its no wonder video usage, marketing and general viewing is rising with over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube (taken from YouTubes statatics). A great promotional video showing your staff what is coming next within the company is a great example where this works or even having the CEO do a quick video blog on his thoughts etc, either way, some good examples of where you can utilise video in your intranet.

8. Infographics or real time analytical data

Do you know how many calls your IT help desk deals with a day? No? Nor do I but I bet its a massive amount, so don’t be so hard on them! This kind of data is real useful when looking at potential cost saving exercises maybe, like cutting down there 1.5 million sheets of people your company may turn over – here are some great Infographic examples over at Leading on from that, having some kind of visual service status is a great way of telling your employees that – everything is ok. Skype do a cool thing with their ‘beating heart’ service status – so cool!

9. How to guides

As we all know, SharePoint is a fantastic tool for publishing, document management, workflow bla bla bla but with all the power comes all the instructions to use them all and use them well. Instead of writing 30 step guides to doing various tasks, break them down into bite sized chunks like how to add a document, how to create a custom list for your users, you could even use Camtasia and do a video with narration over the top to help those who love videos. In my experience people remember about 70 percent of what they learn on courses, so using that example people will remember how to add a document but probably wont remember how to check it in – so you tell them!

10. Where are you? – Office & employee locations

I saw a glimpse of the EA Games intranet once, they used the Sims & their diamonds above their heads for their staff & the combined that with 3D desk views which you could look at each employees desk to see what they liked & did – pretty cool hey! This is very cool but if you work in a forever changing organisation then this would be a nightmare to manage. Using SharePoint 2010 and its lovely MySites users could manager this data themselves, because well really it’s in their interest to be found by people? Maybe! Maybe not, either way in my opinion it would be really helpful. Also for office locations, this would be really useful and if you wanted to be super cool you could utilise the Google Maps API, sorry Bing and combine the two.

Do you have some intranet ideas? Let us know below or on twitter #intranetideas

Picking your users brains.. not literally

Launching a SharePoint intranet & the branding is done? what do your users actually want? That’s the hard part..

“I don’t know what I want but when I see it I will know”

Now is the time to explode! We have all been in a situation when I client or potential new client mutters that sentence or something very similar. If it is a potential client then it is hard to say “come back to when you know what you want” in fear of losing your potential new client, if you are already working with the client it can be a slightly easier to guide them in YOUR direction.

Picking those brains can be a messy task, not literally but the complexity is (I am guessing) the same. I am often asked to run design work shops and talk to clients to find what they want from their website or intranet. In this blog post I will focus on my way to pick those brains and extract from the client what they REALLY want not what they think they want.

The way to approach this is the way I would approach my 6 year old boy who often says – I want, I want, I want, which often translates to I want, I need, I’d love. He doesn’t need that replica Darth Vader helmet and yes I know he’d love to have the new mountain bike but he definitely does need the Buzz Lightyear school bag. So taking that on board this is how I then approach my clients in gaining basic design and structure elements with three steps – I want, I need, I’d love.

Using an example recently a client explained to me that getting people on board to use their intranet was an uphill struggle and that people didn’t really care about the intranet or use it. The first questions I asked was – Do they need to use it? His answer – not sure. The first part of launching or thinking of launching an intranet is understanding what your work force needs because everyone is busy and if they can do something quicker to make their day, life or job easier then they will, so why not take that on board?

The background to this little design process originated from working with Andrew Woodward of 21apps. He is an advocate of Agile Scrum development methodology and during my time working with him I designed some post-it notes that asked 3 basic questions – As a *insert job role* , I would like to *insert task here* , so that I can *insert ultimate goal here* . By asking these questions you create scenarios that identify what users actually want as opposed to developing what you think they want.

Taking that all on board I created my “I want, I need, I’d love” to which I am trying to think of a fancy name for – suggestions on a postcard! So how does it all work – it simply asks your users what they need to help them do their job better, what they would want as an idea and if they could have anything, what would they want.

What you need to remember is that asking open ended and fluffy questions can do two things; you’ll either get good answers or you will be pleasantly surprised by weird answers! But what is important is the engaging of the users and finding out what they want, need and love to have.

I need…

I start off with this one, straight to the point & potentially shocks the system into thinking what do they need. Leading from this I would normally ask – “what do you need to make your job easier”. Whether it is an area instead of a network drive to hold documents or it being an FAQ area detailing the common questions they get asked every day, this will hopefully get the people on your side and work with you to develop your intranet.

I want…

People use the internet more and more each day and with the boom in online applications such as internet banking, social networking, shopping etc. people know what they like, what is easy to use and don’t like – it is unlocking this that is the hard bit. Asking people what they want is a more of an open question which can show you want kind of users you have. By identifying what they want can suggest what they actually need for example as users once said to me, I want an area so I can feedback to my team about seminars & training days etc – we suggested setting up a blog which worked perfectly.

I’d love…

I would prepare yourself for this – this question has thrown up all kinds of answers some I recall – a dating area, a buy n’ sell area, Facebook in-house because they cant get on it in work hours and a car share system. Most of the ideas you will think are silly, yes they may be and many of the ideas wont be implemented due to company fear or unprofessionalism – we are here to do a job right? but some ideas will and can prove to be great and beneficial. One particular one idea we had was the car sharing system, which was put into operation and cut car usage by 30% in the organisation which from a environment point of view can only be positive – so you see, there are a few gems out there!


Now the brain of your users is ticking, things are cooking up in there and hopefully ideas are getting spat out by the second. By doing this exercise on post-it notes it is something that can be kept and logged in as a development plan or some kind of wish list. What I would do now is recap on the ‘I need’ question – from all the other ideas what do you think you need now, I would ask again – the results will be surprising.

What this process does is two things, first thing is gets users on board from the start and it is much easier having them work with him as opposed to you – put your arm around them, not pushing them away from you. The second thing it does is finds out what they want, it picks their brains.

Another last tip, I would suggest doing this again, maybe with a larger group a month later and maybe have it as a competition – people like to win stuff! Best ideas win a prize and you never know what ideas you may get.

Thoughts and comments welcome.

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