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Reinvigorating the intranet in local government

10/12/18

In the face of increasing pressure to deliver services with a decreasing budget, local authorities are being forced to examine their internal processes in order to identify and address inefficiencies.

Searching for information, content and contact details for colleagues are some of the biggest blockers to productivity in any workplace, and this can be exacerbated in environments with large numbers of remote workers and disparate departments such as a local authority.

Councils can address this challenge by reinvigorating their intranets, taking them from outdated document repositories into interactive council hubs that can quickly and easily surface critical information to their workers.

A step change in intranets

In many local authorities, intranets have gained a negative reputation. The intranets of the past were very demanding; first taking months or years to deploy, then requiring a lot from their users, such as demanding complex metadata when adding files and needing a great deal of internal investment to keep the content relevant and fresh.

Intranets have undergone a transformation in the past few years, largely due to enhancements to intranet platforms such as SharePoint and the introduction of turnkey solutions that work out-of-the-box, such as Valo.

These modern intranet solutions provide councils with a ‘digital concierge’ service, delivering tailored, relevant content and signposting to the key council systems. As an extension to Office 365, solutions such as Valo pull together the security, indexing and search power of SharePoint into a user-centric intranet platform that can be deployed in weeks, not months.

Valo intranets are refreshing the desktop experience for council staff, such that they enthusiastically visit the intranet as their first port of call to access documents, news, and links to other frequently used council systems or websites.

What can councils expect from a reinvigorated intranet?

First of all, modern intranets are useful. Designed to help users find content and people quickly, they offer intelligent search with contextualised results, based upon your team or role. Staff directories can be surfaced on home or team pages, offering the ability to search for colleagues based upon key criteria such as name, department or a particular skill. Once found, the user can contact colleagues directly with a single click on their number or email address in the directory.

Secondly, they are personalised to only show content that is relevant to the particular member of staff. News can be categorised and targeted according to department, location or role, and providing users with a tailored view of the breaking news that is most important to them whenever they log on.

People now live their lives on their mobile devices, so it’s no longer considered acceptable for an intranet to be accessible via a desktop only. Modern intranets are mobile out-of-the-box, meaning they automatically scale depending on the screen size of the device which staff use to access it. Valo even offers a native mobile app to deliver an even better user experience and push notifications for important updates. Not only does a mobile intranet increase productivity outside the office, it also supports councils’ bring-your-own-device initiatives to help save money on hardware costs and maintenance.

Councils often report confusion about the sheer number of tools available in Office 365. Modern intranets are helping address this challenge by providing a single, user-friendly interface for interacting with each of these productivity tools.

To many organisations’ relief, intranets are now much more flexible, adaptable, and quick to deploy. Intranet projects have traditionally taken months to complete, by which time circumstances or requirements are already beginning to change. With a modern, out-of-the-box intranet like Valo, councils can expect to pilot their intranet within weeks, and make ongoing adjustments to pages and structure as and when required. Turnkey solutions are easier to maintain and thus place less reliance on suppliers to deliver changes, meaning councils can be largely self-sufficient when it comes to making improvements over time.

Modern intranets encourage collaboration and self-service via blogposts, forums and knowledge sharing. Staff can quickly feel part of the bigger picture by responding to others’ questions on forums or submitting ideas for consideration by senior staff.

Finally, modern intranets are owned by business users. Whilst IT teams will always have a crucial role to play regarding digital strategy, security and access to the intranet, users can become far less reliant on IT teams to make day-to-day changes. Departmental owners can create and refresh content autonomously, leaving IT free to focus on more strategic objectives. Valo provides an ‘admin toolpack’ to provide metrics on intranet usage, thereby helping content owners to see what is resonating with their audience most effectively, and adjust content accordingly. 

Further enhancing efficiency with workflow

Advances in technology are making it easier than ever to extend your intranet into a tool that powers automation across your authority. By opting for an Office 365-based intranet, local authorities can take advantage of Flow, Microsoft’s no-code workflow engine, to automate common processes such as holiday request approvals or document reviews.

By introducing and embracing a modern intranet, local authorities can reclaim hours of time previously spent searching for content, foster a more collaborative working environment, and quickly create workflows that deliver long term efficiency savings across all departments.

You can read more about the features and implementation of Valo from Valo's UK Premium Partner Pythagoras at 
https://www.pythagoras.co.uk/local-and-regional-government/valo-intranets-for-local-and-regional-government/

Alternatively, watch the demonstration below of Valo for Local Government to understand more: 

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