Intranet usability gets people back to work

There is great pressure on businesses to keep people from being unemployed. Yet many workers are under-employed when an intranet hinders their efficiency. Intranet usability is a big problem. Would your senior executives be concerned that employees cannot do their work? Of course! But are you as concerned when employees using your intranet cannot do tasks? Do you even know how long it takes employees to complete their tasks? Can you find out before your senior executive asks you?

This is our second in a series on intranet usability. Last month we focused on the hidden costs of overlooking intranet usability. This month we focus on how the efficiency created by intranet usability improves the profitability of your organization. As executives face slow revenue growth, they look for ways to reduce costs. Your intranet usability could be a gold mine in terms of helping them reach that goal.

Intranet usability impacts profitability
One bank client recently found that a critical task took staff up to 197 seconds to complete – and that figure didn’t include task times for staff who failed to complete it! This intranet gets 4,500 visits a day, so small task-performance improvements have a big impact. Estimating the wasted time on only ten top tasks, and multiplying by the task frequency, the bank identified over $900,000 in potential employee time savings. Annually. That figure doesn’t include indirect savings. When people have problems with tasks, they often ask others to help. The time spent by managers, peers and help-line staff to help complete the task costs the company too.

Clients are sometimes shocked at how long people take to complete tasks in usability testing of their intranet. But turn this shock into positive momentum. Let us prioritize the usability problem areas, and how much your intranet could contribute to profitability.

Intranet usability is measurable
Are you still measuring by hits, visits, eyeballs, or time-on-site? Think differently. Measure your intranet by whether employees can do their work efficiently. Measuring top task performance on your intranet is like measuring any other work – by measuring utilization and efficiency. That’s how the bank arrived at $900,000 potential savings – multiplying attempted tasks by the amount of inefficiently-spent time. When the intranet is improved, work groups increase their own utilization and efficiency.

Intranet usability means setting goals
When your intranet is not usable, it is like paying people NOT to work. The bank found top task completion rates were between 11% and 88%. A task-completion rate of 11% means that 8 out of 9 times, employees couldn’t complete that task on the intranet. Imagine if a cashier in a store failed to get 8 out of 9 customers through the cash register line! People don’t like their time being wasted. Aim higher — test and retest to reach a goal of 9 out of 10 users being able to complete each top task.

Intranet usability improves efficiency
The faster work gets done,
the lower the cost of doing work – thus improving business profitability. Kristin Zhivago writes in that “efficiency is the new gold” and “if you are efficient, you focus on what’s important“. We agree. That’s why we are so insistent on identifying the top tasks of intranet users. Links and content can creep into menus and onto the prime scanning area, obscuring critical top tasks. Speeding up those top tasks improves the efficiency of the entire work force.

Intranet usability means a focus on people
If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, start with the most important user task – finding people. Based on more than 35,000 survey responses from intranet users, we know that the top task is consistently related to finding people – by name, by department, by skill and so on. If you need to focus, begin there. Measuring and improving task completion and efficiency on this very frequent top task will have an immediate impact on your profitability.

If efficiency is the new gold, then intranet usability is the way to find gold. Let us get started with your intranet usability. Call us at 613-271-3001 or email us.

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Quote of the month


“There are three fundamental things [Frederick Taylor] taught:
… Find the best practice wherever it exists
… Decompose the task into its constituent elements
… Get rid of things that don’t add value”

Gary Hamel



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