The born again Intranet (Guest Writer) » Charity Digital News

The born again Intranet (Guest Writer)

In this guest post, Sian Basker, Digital Knowledge Development Manager at Action for Blind People, looks at the charitable sector’s use of the Intranet.

Is your intranet a hive of creative activity? A hotbed of innovative ideas, collaboration and communication?  Or is it a dull and unloved wasteland of policy documents, expense forms and out of date staff news?

The humble Intranet, often managed as a back office function by HR or internal comms, is being quietly reinvented .  Rising from the ashes of the recession, the latest Intranet developments offer new hope and transformational opportunities for charities.

Spending on a new Intranet might seem self-indulgent, politically insensitive, and frankly unaffordable in these lean times.  Yet in the face of diminished human and financial resources, enabling people and teams to work at their very best is crucial.

The current zeitgeist, of ‘openness’, ‘sharing’ and ‘collaboration’, means smart organisations are looking to harness knowledge, skills and creativity across traditional hierarchies, geographies and territorial boundaries. The expectation on technology is well beyond simple ‘efficiency-savings’.  Access, ‘anytime, anywhere’, to people, information, and systems in an engaging, social, interactive, and media-rich environment are all possible. Translating all that into being more ‘effective’ and ‘increasing impact’ is where the real challenge lies.

Emphasis on volunteering, partnership, and maximising staff/resource efficiency are common themes of many post-recession business plans. And of course, mobile, dispersed and flexible working are on the increase but it’s an organisation’s ability to embrace and drive cultural change that makes the difference.

The plethora of emerging Intranet solutions and collaborative working tools can be daunting and difficult to compare.  Document management, professional profiling, virtual project spaces, learning zones, conferencing, discussion and hot surveys sit alongside video entertainment from colleagues and a range of fun and ‘social’ tools.  You’d be forgiven for wanting to run for the past – the simple days of a desk, phone, pen and paper, filing cabinet and, if you were quite tech-savvy, a rolodex!

And yet, these new tools offer exciting opportunities for new ways of working. An intranet or extranet may not be necessary for every organisation (indeed the terms themselves might even be becoming outdated?). Small organisations can pull together a few off the shelf tools and be up and running in the cloud relatively cheaply within hours.  Many larger and more complex charities, are on a quest for the perfect Intranet, the beating ‘digital heart’ of an organisation, is it the holy grail?

If your organisation has succeeded, we’d love to hear from you. We’re looking for case studies (particularly from charities operating nationally)   to share knowledge and learning. To get in touch please e-mail

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