You can’t fault an enthusiastic workforce when it comes to embedding an intranet. The silver bullet solution your shiny new intranet is perceived to be, solving all organisational ills, is great… but what happens when that enthusiasm turns your staff into hoarders? Or intranet Bridezillas who’ve just got to have everything NOW! At that point it is time to ask yourself is there really a place for that kitchen sink in your framework?

Not just sinks, but no draining boards or ironing boards allowed either. While minimalism might not work for everyone, especially larger organizations, there is good reason for it. If nothing else, just think, it’s much easier to herd a small flock of sheep than the entire contents of Noah’s Arc.

Having moved from an organisation still in the early years of its first ever intranet, it was always a matter of good governance to not overload the system. If nothing else, nobody wanted to get hundreds of page expiry notifications appearing on their homepage, especially me. Having moved into the health sector, where the focus is on keeping information secure, it has given me a whole new appreciation for intranet minimalism!

Why intranet governance (and minimalism!) is important

There’s a big push in the NHS, towards Information Governance (or IG to those in the know). In a nutshell, it’s a legal framework governing the use of personal confidential data. Although a bit complex, it makes perfect sense. While for health organisations the focus is on keeping people’s personal details secure and avoiding those ‘laptop left in a taxi’ moments; it’s actually got some useful lessons we can apply to intranets. The focus is on effective information sharing – which is what should be at the heart of all intranets, so you can see the parallel.

Make sure you ask yourself these 9 questions to ensure your intranet remains secure and clutter free:

  • Are your users accessing the intranet securely? Do they know to log out when they’re done?
  • Do you need to keep all of that information? If yes how long do you really need it for? Why not set an expiry date for the content?
  • Is your staff training up to scratch? Do they know how to use your intranet properly to help them work more efficiently?
  • Do you use workflow and forms to send information securely? It’s much better than a paper form with confidential information left on a desk (and quicker too)
  • If it’s on your intranet once, isn’t that enough? Nothing wrong with a hyperlink rather than re-uploading
  • Have you given staff the tools to avoid duplication of effort? Do you use workspaces and forums to prevent some of those silos?
  • Is your active directory clean? You don’t want users who have left still visible on your staff directory – or still able to log in!
  • Have you set some polite house rules for your intranet? Do people know what they can and can’t share? It might look a bit like Facebook, but it isn’t!
  • Don’t share your log in details – fairly obvious but while it might be ok for your friend to see a blog or timeline post, your site will also feature information that is commercially sensitive.

Next time someone sends you an email stuffed with attachments to upload onto your intranet, feel free to think twice, and step away from that Word document.