Why we need an intranet

Finding information

Staff have consistently told us that it is complex and time consuming to find University-wide information they need to complete administrative tasks.

All staff-focused information is on the general website, mixed in with content for students, visitors, external partners and our many other audiences. It has grown organically over a long period, leading to a site overflowing with information that is grouped by organisational structure rather than by the topics staff would logically look for.

Information is presented in many different ways and the language used is often technical or heavy in jargon. By reviewing and reorganising this content in a discrete staff-focused intranet, it will be easier to find information and complete tasks, giving staff more time to focus on their core work.

The inclusion of staff information on the website also makes it confusing for our other web visitors. The University’s website has millions of visitors each month and is an important communication tool for our organisation. In 2011 a ‘web strategy’ project defined a road map for the future development of the University website, the first step of which was to move the staff information out into an intranet. This will free the website up to focus on the other audiences.

Communication and community development

In the absence of an intranet, there is a heavy reliance on email as the primary method to communicate with staff. While news is published on, and linked from, the Staff and Careers web page, an intranet would provide greater scope for publishing important notices, targeted staff-related news and more in-depth articles, giving these communications a higher profile and increasing readership and engagement. It could also provide a space for more social communication, contributing to developing the University community and culture.

Collaboration

Increased cross-organisational collaboration is an important strategic objective for the University. There is a genuine will to facilitate greater working relationships between academic disciplines as well as administrative departments, to make better use of our expertise in achieving our goals, from research outcomes to cost savings. There is a need to define what is meant by collaboration, at a University-wide and project or local level, and what the intranet can do to support this.

Leadership

While most faculties have some form of intranet, staff in faculties have told us that it would be very useful to have greater guidance on what makes a good intranet. This would include what features it should have, what content it should contain, how it should be structured, how it should be managed on an ongoing basis and what platform it should use. A University-wide intranet should provide this model, and should also have the capability for faculties to develop their own subsets of the main intranet where they can include local information and collaborative spaces.