My blog post on intranet reporting went through how you can make use of the SharePoint 2010 inbuilt reporting to get some idea of how your intranet is being used and and who is using it.

Surveying your intranet’s users is another key way in which you can report on the success you’re having with the new work you are delivering (more on how you choose what to do in a future blog post).

When you change the intranet you’re interested in being able to prove that the time and money spent doing your pet project was valuable to your organisation. The key thing you need to do is demonstrate change of some kind. To do this you need to do a bit of work PRIOR to your project getting a baseline, that you can then compare with the results for the same test after you’ve done your new work.

There are many ways to benchmark your user’s usage of the intranet. Andrew Wright has the Worldwide Intranet Challenge, more on this in a minute, or you can use your own intranet software to create and collect the survey answers. In SharePoint 2010 you can do this by : site actions -> all site content -> create -> data -> survey

But knowing how to create a survey on your intranet is less than half the battle. The key is to ask good quality questions that you will be able to draw reasonable results from. As I discovered, when I worked at Lincoln University,  creating surveys is a complex and research driven discipline. So I’m only going to cover the bare minimum here. Planning your survey is the key to getting results you can use.

Intranet user survey planning

Planning is no excuse for not doing a survey, or doing it on a regular basis. Even if you do no planning and just copy the two survey’s I’ll outline below you will be ahead of most intranet teams that never quite get to this part of the puzzle.

Intranet user survey example 1

This is the survey used by friends of mine here in Christchurch New Zealand to keep tracks of how their intranet users are feeling about their intranet. I’ve changed the name of the intranet to Hubby.

Intranet user survey example

If you want to see a copy of this survey online you can here

Now you’ve flicked your eyes over the form, go back and put into your mind anything that seems unusual or out of place, or that strikes you about this survey.

What did you come up with ?

Key for me when I saw it were

  • the mention of “continuous improvement”. This sets the expectation with users that things will get better over and over again.
  • the word “anonymously” at the end. This is key if your survey is on your intranet, especially if your organisations culture is one that does not encourage frank discussion without consequences.

Then I noticed things  like the fact they laid out their vision, they offered the opportunity for free form feedback.

Intranet user survey example 2

I mentioned Andrew Wright’s Worldwide intranet challenge earlier. Take a look at his “intranet user adoption why it’s confusing” article or the one on “10 lessons intranet can learn from Wikipedia“. About half way down both of these articles is a summary bar chart of results from Andrew’s survey of intranet users.

You could use the questions outlined in both graphs as the basis for your intranet user survey.

How often do you use the intranet to:

  • Publish content            Never   Infrequently  2-3 times a month   2-3 times a week   More than once a day
  • Discuss work topics    Never   Infrequently  2-3 times a month   2-3 times a week   More than once a day
  • Collaborate online      Never   Infrequently  2-3 times a month   2-3 times a week   More than once a day
  • Provide feedback        Never   Infrequently  2-3 times a month   2-3 times a week   More than once a day

Howto make an intranet staff survey great

Wrap your request for responses to your survey in a communication that outlines the following

  • Senior staff have already filled it in (just send it to them to fill in a day prior to everyone else)
  • What you’ll do with the results and when
  • That replies need to be in by a deadline
  • That you’ll publish the results on the home page of the intranet on a specific date. Not via email.

Once the deadline is gone, don’t let anything and I mean ANYTHING stop you from collating the results into a summary that is published on the intranet by the date you outlined. If you get the report out by the time you’ve outlined in the communication you begin to build trust with users, the gold dust of digital workplace teams.

If staff do give you their name in the survey. Ring them up. “SHOCK!, Horror!” I have to talk to a real person? Yep. Again the goal here is to build trust and show them that you did actually read the comment they left. Ideally you’ll be able to give them an idea of what you’ll be doing about their comment or request. Remember you are better to say “I don’t think we’ll get your request into the programme of work we’ve got” . Promising something that you won’t deliver will kill you reputation and trust quicker than an infectious disease.

These phone calls also give you a way to get real user quotes – WRITE THEM DOWN. They are invaluable when you’re talking to senior staff, because they aren’t your opinion, but convey the real sentiment of staff on the front lines. NOTE when you’re asked “What said that?” , just say you can’t remember. Divulging a name can have implications for the trust staff have in you.

OK so you’ve

  • done the survey
  • published the results
  • rung up those who gave you their names
  • got some great quotes to use supporting the intranet cause

Now you need to look at your big long list of work you think needs doing. You do have one of those right ?

Put the results from the survey against it and find the correlations between the survey responses and the work you know needs doing. You’ll see the things that will help your users the most leap out from the page.

Now all you need to do is add in the strategic objectives you’ve worked out you organisation wants to achieve and you’ll have a pretty good grasp of the RIGHT work to be doing.

Repeat and compare your intranet user survey

6 months down the track repeat your survey and compare the results. Do all the other stuff outlined above to make your survey a great one, but this time you can let the organisation know how things have changed. These trends, the user needs, the organisations strategy/vision will then give you direction on the RIGHT work to start doing for the next six months.

Simple a?

If all this seems too much ask ten staff from a cross section of positions in your organisations the biggest challenges they have in their jobs. After this look at trends across people and you’ll see a way the intranet could help address that challenging theme.


How  to create a survey in SharePoint 2010

Creating an SP2010 survey (with screen shots and explanation)

Andrew Wright’s blog posts

Intranet user surveys, SP2010
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