Usability, content, search and analytics on the corporate intranet

Government intranets acting fast

11 August, 2016 – Luke Oatham

Referendum results, resignations and reshuffles have been causing government intranets to adapt and move quickly to keep staff up to date with changes.

Since before the referendum, internal comms teams had been publishing information on purdah, advice on personal conduct and social media guidance. After the EU referendum results, intranets have had to transition fast to cope with the changing political landscape.

At one department, they staged an all-staff video chat with the Permanent Secretary and Head of Comms the morning after the results. Staff were able to tune in via the intranet and pose questions that were then ranked by other staff and picked up for live coverage in the video stream. A simple and effective format, blending external apps and platforms into the intranet.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, already experts at keeping staff engaged, recorded a standup gathering with their Perm Sec and made the video available on the intranet, open for all staff to view and comment.

On a number of intranets, pages with scrolling timelines started to appear, showing milestones, key dates, new appointments and latest announcements.

New areas started to appear on homepages, dedicated to the latest departmental announcements. Blog and forum posts sprouted, welcoming new ministers and teams, provoking ideas and sparking debate. Org charts were refreshed. New Ministers’ pages put in place and Private Office guidance on ministerial preferences amended.

It’s been a super-busy time for my intranet clients. And useful for me, sitting on the sidelines, watching all this happen, able to tune in and keep abreast of how the Machinery of Government changes affect them.

But what has really wowed me is seeing my clients coping with all this change, making the required modifications to their intranets and taking it in their stride. Creating an all-staff video chat at the drop of a hat. Transforming a homepage layout to prioritise new information. Building new sections of pages with engaging and useful content. And in one case, building a brand new intranet as two departments merged, in as little as three days. All without having to submit a request for change to a support helpdesk, and without any extra software development to their intranet platforms.

They are using the flexible tools available in their WordPress CMS, being creative, engaging and innovative. I have to admit that lately I’ve come across pages and asked myself how on earth they did it. They’ve been busy adding Bootstrap HTML elements into pages, creating attractive, branded graphics to accompany announcements, and tweaking CSS code to change styles and colours. They’re doing some really nifty stuff just by being clever about how they structure their taxonomy terms, taking advantage of automated WordPress templates.

All this makes me feel proud. Partly because they’re using the software that I’ve been developing. Partly because they’re using the skills and techniques that we’ve covered in training. But mostly because they are confidently forging their intranets themselves, and being inventive with it.

 

 

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