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Socitim urges councils to invest in intranets



Briefing paper highlights potential for self-service and collaboration to deal with pressures of austerity

Local authorities could respond to spending cuts by making more use of their intranets, especially their self-service functions, according to public services IT association Socitm.

Its latest briefing, Better connected intranets: is this now, at last, the time to engage? says the prospect of continued austerity has created an incentive for councils to invest more in intranets, and that improvements can be achieved quickly by sharing best practice.

The paper reports on a recent workshop at which common problems were aired. It says that intranets have been given a lower priority than customer facing websites and often show shortcomings: functions such as search do not always work; navigation is too organisation-centric; there is an excessive focus on news and events; and too much information is in PDF format.

In response, organisations need to identify the most important tasks for staff and measure how long it takes to complete them. Once the ‘time and motion’ evidence is collected it can be used to support improvements in the intranets.

Top tasks

Socitm says that research points to four common groups of ‘top tasks’:

  • About me – for HR processes such as booking holidays and claiming travel expenses.
  • About the organisation – information about its size, operation, management, strategies and plans.
  • Find people and collaboration – including directories and search for people, especially colleagues with specific expertise.
  • News and current affairs – on what the organisation is doing internally and externally. This should include ‘bottom up’ internal activity such as enabling staff to post on social enterprise networks.

The intranets should also take account of the organisation’s core tasks, for which it can contribute to performance goals and add value.

Martin Greenwood, the author of the briefing, said: “One of the barriers to investment by councils in their intranets is that, although savings from citizen self-service are now well recognised, the same is not true of employee self-service. “Behind all this is the plain fact that the value of employee time continues to be insufficiently recognised by senior management.

“Additional drivers right now for investment in intranets are the increase in shared service developments and a rise in flexible working, both of which are supported by an effective intranet.”

Image from TULIPE2602, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported through Wikimedia

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