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Intranets and ROI DO Mix!

October 25th, 2010 No comments

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.

Categories: Intranet, ROI Tags:

Hospital Intranets: Can’t we all just get along?

September 17th, 2010 No comments

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…

Categories: Analytics, Intranet Tags:

The Verdict is Unanimous

We certainly struck a chord with our post on the concept of notices of employee deaths on the intranet. We heard from nearly a dozen readers.

And the verdict is unanimous:  Do it.

The value was really driven home this weekend when my son’s physics teacher passed away.  Students shared via Facebook in large volumes, but what you saw was dependent upon your circle of friends. Had there been a single site – like an employee intranet – everybody could have shared with each other during an emotional time.

We got so much input that sharing it all could take up a decent sized article. But here are the highlights:

  • Many entities make announcements of employee deaths, some on their intranet, but more typically in a print publication or via email. But we found none allowing comments or tributes.
  • Some organizations leave out the cause of death. Doing so across the board avoids having to make the decision each time, but will probably lead to questions from employees. Most causes of death probably wouldn’t be an issue, but suicides or particularly grisly deaths might be.
  • One hospital allows employees to post prayers on behalf of the sick or injured on their intranet. While not an exact match, the concept is the same. They have a form employees fill out, and Pastoral Services reviews before posting, which sounds like a model for handling death notices.

One of the best pieces of advice was this:  “Many people only get into the paper three times in their lives — when they’re born, when they get married, and when they die. That’s why it’s important that we get it right.”

That’s why the consensus was that somebody needs to review and post any announcement, and any comments or tributes. Some consistency in terms of what’s included, length, etc. should be established. Not a lot of agreement on what that should be included, but making those decisions up front will eliminate a lot of problems and discussions later on.

Finally, some outstanding input from Dr. Robin Goodman, a psychologist in private practice in New York and director, A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Bereavement Center, who believes allowing employees to post comments is a good idea:

It’s always appropriate to:

  • Share a personal memory
  • Post a photo as a memento (if appropriate to share)
  • Be simple and honest – e.g. “my heart goes out to you and your family”
  • Support the person via donations, organizing a group activity, and pitching in with work-related tasks (where appropriate and relevant)

One should avoid:

  • Platitudes (e.g. don’t say “it’s for the best” or “at least s/he isn’t suffering anymore”)
  • Giving advice
  • Comparing it to your own situation
  • Making false promises
  • Revealing too much of your own personal story
  • Offering/promoting your own religious view of death as cultures, individuals and beliefs vary so much

Clearly you’ll want to post guidelines so the expectations are clear, but those are wonderful suggestions to get you started.

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to share your input on this concept. It sounds like an idea whose time has come!

Categories: Intranet Tags: ,

Walking the Talk of a Caring Organization

Every organization I’ve ever worked for claimed to care about its employees. And just about every organization I’ve ever worked for had an employee pass away at some point. That’s why I was especially intrigued by an idea from one of our clients to post notices of employee deaths on their intranet, and allow other employees to post tributes and the like.

For an organization that claims to be more than just a business – they say they are truly a family – what a great idea! If somebody in your family died, you’d share it with the other members of your family, even if everybody wasn’t especially close to the deceased. For a healthcare system that claims to be a family, why should they operate any differently?

However, it’s also something we’ve never seen done before. We can advise on how others have handled employee postings of classified ads and the like, but with death comes a lot more sensitivity and emotion.
So, we’re wondering if anybody has done anything like this and would be willing to share. You can either respond to this post, or email me directly at nlinkon@greystone.net.

Here are just some of the many questions the client is wrestling with:

  • How does the information get posted?
  • Any limitations on specifically what information is posted?
  • Do tributes or comments need to be screened before posting?
  • How big of a deal do you make out of the feature once it’s added?

It’s such an excellent idea that we can’t wait for the fascinating discussion with the client. But we’d love to hear from others, even if the concept is new to you and you just want to chime in. So either respond to this post, or drop me a note (nlinkon@greystone.net). We’ll share what we hear and the consensus outcome in a future post.

Categories: Intranet Tags: