Getting your people to use your intranet Featured

9:55am EDT July 22, 2002

Setting up an intranet can be complicated enough, but how do you ensure your employees will use it once it’s in place? Diebold Inc. has had its intranet system up and running since 1996 and has discovered that by making sure everyone has access and the site is user friendly, it will be used with surprising frequency.

When Diebold first set up its intranet, it was limited to the company’s desktop PCs, so corporate and sales people had first access.

Michelle Griggy, manager of associate communications, says that although the intranet was widely accepted by those who had first access, it took about a year for it to really get off the ground. During that year, it was added to PCs throughout the company and to company laptops.

As it gained wider usage, employees began talking about the intranet, called Diebold On-line Community. It didn’t take long for it to adopt the acronym nickname of DOC, which is how most now refer to it.

When DOC was instituted, Diebold ran a front page article in its internal newsletter, Boldly Speaking. “It was a big splash announcing that it was coming soon and it took associates through a step-by-step process on how to use the intranet,” Griggy says.

For employees who were still gun shy about the new technology, a tutorial was available on the site. People with little computer experience could click on a button and the tutorial would walk them through the site.

“It was a self-taught kind of thing,” Griggy says. “We didn’t have any classes on it.”

As it grew in popularity, the possibility of a wider array of functions was realized. PC stations were added to production facilities and step-by-step directions for manufacturing processes were added to these stations. Now, instead of being embarrassed about forgetting a simple production step and wasting a supervisor’s time by asking how to do it again, employees look it up with a point and a click.

John Williams, senior media relations and marketing communications coordinator at Diebold, says that DOC was especially well received by the company’s sales people. Instead of having to print and bind new product information, the sales staff had the information at their fingertips via their laptops. That was enhanced by the fact that updates could be made available to a worldwide sales force in a matter of seconds. In addition to the convenience, this saves Diebold a lot of money in printing costs.

To get even more people to use the intranet, a trivia contest is announced through the company’s monthly e-mail publication, Newsbytes. To get the question, respondents must go to the intranet.

This year, Diebold redesigned DOC to make it more user friendly, fun and most important, more useful.

Griggy went to the vice presidents of the company and asked for input on what kind of information should be added and how it could be better organized before she and her colleagues reorganized the site.

To ensure it would be attractive to the widest array of people within the company, they compiled a team.

“We formed a whole team of people that weren’t just from corporate communications. They were from all over the company,” Griggy says. “Before we published the site, they were all comfortable with it, which was very important to us.”

Even though the site seems to be a success, Griggy is realistic about her expectations. “You’re not ever going to have everyone be happy with what it looks like and how the information is organized,” she says.

So as not to alienate those who were comfortable with the old design, both old and new sites are still available on the intranet.

To facilitate response to the new site, a feedback section was added. Employees could now directly respond with their likes and dislikes about the intranet, but it also came in handy in another area.

“A lot of people have general questions on the company,” Griggy says. “They send their information through feedback and it goes to me so I can facilitate the answer.”

The intranet has had an unintended effect at Diebold. Designed as a way for the company to easily diffuse necessary information to all its employees at a more cost effective level, it has also brought the company closer together as a whole.

DOC has a section called Inside Diebold under which any group within the company may have its own Web site. One section explains simply how to created a site and each department has the freedom to create its own site.

“It’s one thing that’s kind of helped foster inter-departmental communication,” Griggy says.

Williams adds that the online company directory has become a great benefit. “We have locations all over the world, so it’s hard to figure out where people are. I use it every day,” he says.

Now people in the Diebold corporation can see exactly what their co-workers are doing half a world away.

For Diebold, it seems the intranet took on a life of its own as an easily accessible information source, the key being that when the information on your intranet is useful, it will be used.

As Williams says, Diebold’s intranet is all company related, so it can not be abused as a time wasting element like the Internet.

“What could be better than going online and finding something rather than going through endless filing cabinets and calling people across the country when its right there,” Williams says. “As more and more of the departments and groups put their information up there, it’s really becoming a time saver.”

Griggy has been receiving requests from employees for the ability to access DOC from home. A definite sign of success is when your people want to take their work home.