Teams leading intranet redesign projects can easily become lost trying to satisfy demands from across the organisation, planning and design processes can be bogged down in endless discussions about priorities. At the same time employee satisfaction with the intranet can remain stuck at dismally low levels even after significant investment. How can you escape the endless cycle of needs analysis meetings and deliver an intranet that delights employees and management? The Top Tasks methodology, developed by Gerry McGovern, offers a clear way to align intranet redesigns to employee needs and business outcomes by basing design on what employees need to do in their daily work. In the methodology real use cases are identified systematically from the bottom up using a simple polling technique. Here is the process in a nutshell
Make a list of typical employee tasks. The list is gathered in a number of ways; by observing people doing their jobs; looking at the shared drives; getting help centre call records and reports; by analysing of email traffic. It is very important not to ask people what tasks they would do on an intranet - this produces speculative wish lists much better to simply find out what they do.
Pretty soon you have a big list of candidate tasks. Next you work on this list with a small team making sure there are no gaps, making sure there are no overlaps and reducing the list to a manageable size. The team must make judgments about the scope of the list and senior stakeholders must be involved in agreeing the final list.
Once the list is finished run a poll to see what the top tasks are. Put the list in front of a sample of employees or all employees if you can and get them to vote for the tasks that are most important to them in doing their work.
Using the results
Poll results have many uses for intranet teams (a full explanation of the methodology is available here) most obviously the poll results gives teams a prioritised list of employee tasks to concentrate on when implementing a new technology or what content should be migrated from old platforms. The voting process builds commitment through equal participation in a process that everyone can understand. But we should note here that voting does not automatically provide consensus, results can expose differences between groups on priorities. Skill is still needed to steer through the results to a usable action plan. Differing priorities may have to be acknowledged by prioritizing tasks that important groups voted for.
There is real lasting value of having an objective piece of research at the centre of your redesign process. It allows you to steer a path through many competing priorities and ensure that design decisions are based on facts not opinions.
Brian Lamb is co-founder of Intranet Now, the UK’s only independent intranet conference. He is a partner in Customer Carewords and has over 15 years experience of working on intranets all over the world.← Other blog articles