Skip to main content

User needs on the intranet

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Continuous iteration, Product Management, Start with user needs, Unity without uniformity

Earlier this year we did a discovery on ‘exploring the user needs for the development of the intranet’. We wanted to validate existing assumptions and gather requirements for the intranet through qualitative and quantitative research. We used interviews, surveys and a content audit for this work.

What we were trying to do

We wanted to identify how users:

  • collaborate on the intranet
  • find the content they’re looking for
  • do the tasks they need to do

At the end of discovery, we aimed to have a list of minimum features that users need or expect from an intranet in Parliament.

How we did it

The research was carried out through observations and interviews. We analysed how often staff used the intranet and their behaviour over the last year. We also conducted two surveys. One was directed at people who use the intranet and the other at those who edit and upload content to the intranet.

Alongside this we did a competitor analysis of four other intranets - D+H, Wellcome Trust, Hull & East Yorkshire NHS Trust and Regenda. We wanted to have a healthy mix of the public and private sector to explore user needs in different environments.

What we found

Screenshot of the catering section of the intranet

  • the intranet is used primarily for booking rooms, looking for events, finding out what’s for lunch, job vacancies, and HR related documents
  • content is difficult to find and isn’t trusted
  • it’s a one-way communication tool
  • non-pc users and non-desk based staff can have trouble accessing it

We discovered the intranet actions that the respondents thought most important were:

  1. submit a question/an Early Day Motion (EDM)/amendment
  2. input working hours, overtime or leave
  3. find information, including staff handbooks, business of the Houses, Hansard (speeches and written questions) and Parliamentary search
  4. read about procedures and policies
  5. contact the library
  6. find someone's office
  7. read about news or events
  8. reserve a library resource
  9. claim expenses
  10. find a briefing, publication or e-journal

Emerging themes

Our research showed an appetite for an improved intranet. It also highlighted that we need a dedicated team or a person to manage it. It’s not only about building an intranet based on user needs, but also about continuously improving and maintaining it.

We also identified features that we need to build. For example, a better search function, a people finder, and a way to personalise content for the user.

Better integration with other internal systems like SharePoint would be helpful too and there needs to be a separation between different types of content (for example HR content and food menus).

The discovery highlighted the need for us to take a strategic approach to developing the intranet and give careful thought to its governance. We've started to ask who is it for and what is it for but there's more to be explored in this area.

Next steps

Work looking at the governance of the intranet in detail has already started. We'll report more on that when we can.

We know there's a need for a more detailed content audit and a strategy to improve the content and avoid duplication. Finding resource for that will be our next challenge.

We'll also be looking at ways to improve the information architecture and the navigation, which will link closely to our work on the new website.

If you’re interested in reading the findings report, please email Dia.

Sharing and comments

Share this page