ROI is very important to any organization when defining the efficiency of an investment. Intranets are no exception and organizations believe ROI is very important, but defining what an organization wants to measure can be difficult to determine.
We observe that most hospitals see the inherent value in intranets and while measurements are less tangible, intranets can be very valuable to the organization. We often compare intranets to the telephone system. Most organizations see the value in the telephone but most would not track the ROI of its phone system. We inherently know and understand the value of the phone and do not require a detailed ROI balance sheet. In many ways intranets are like telephones. They assist us in mission-critical work but the unseen savings are implicitly understood.
However, to move past the ROI issues so that we can improve our intranets, let’s define some tangible measurements:
- Ascribe the intranet a value equal to the investment, dollar in equals dollar out.
- Assign a non-monetary value to the intranet as collaborative communication and knowledge management asset.
- Measure and appraise specific benefits from implementing an intranet.
Specific measurements for bullet point three would include:
- Reducing paper printing and circulation
- Decrease software downloads
- Reduce headcount and increase savings from automated functions
- Reduce or eliminate process errors
- Improve access to internal and competitive data
- Reduce training expenses
- Improve productivity by allowing access to all employees
- Increase employee retention
These are a few of the many measurements that can be done for the intranet. So don’t let ROI stop you from building a business case for improving your intranet and presenting it to your executive business team.
The results of Greystone.Net’s recent research on intranets in hospitals and health systems are in. Thanks to all who participated! We received responses from nearly half (46%) of our 125-member panel of healthcare marketers. All respondents who completed the survey have received a complete copy of the results.
Several main conclusions stood out:
1) Overall, intranets are something that nearly everyone has, but many do not feel they are using this tool to its potential. However, organizations are beginning to add features and functions to make their intranets more appealing to employees. Some popular features being added to intranets include multimedia and interactive content. In the words of one survey respondent: “We’ve found that our intranet is not highly used by our employees. To counter that we have worked to implement features that we hope will keep employees coming back and utilizing it.”
2) Many of the people in our respondent pool of healthcare marketers were explicit about how difficult it is to share responsibility for the intranet with the IT department. As one respondent put it, “Intranets should not be managed by I/S. Ever.” To be fair, I would not be surprised that if we gave this survey to a group of IT people and saw similar comments about marketing. What is clear the from respondent comments is that a productive relationship between IT and the Marketing Department is critical to the success of an intranet.
3) It is likely that the underutilization of intranets is directly related to a relative lack of importance placed on internal communication by health care organizations. While intranets are viewed as extremely important tools for internal communications by nearly two out of three respondents, internal communication is seen as extremely important by only half of respondents.
4) Given the relatively low priority placed on internal communications in hospitals and health systems, perhaps it is not surprising that only one third (35.1%) say they use metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their intranet. When metrics are used, they seldom go beyond basic Web analytics. Very few organizations track value-added activities such as downloads of key documents and participation in forums.
As one respondent expertly put it, “The intranet is a vital and important tool to A) build community, B) convey the vision of the leadership and how the organization implements that vision, and C) help employees at all levels do their jobs.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself. Now, about those IT folks…