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Dave FisherDec 20, 20174 min read

5 Ways To Improve Your SharePoint Intranet Today

Is your SharePoint intranet struggling to stay alive?

Maybe your company implemented it years ago and employees never quite bought in, or maybe users drifted away over time.

Whatever the reason, underperforming intranets are not uncommon, and even though it’s frustrating for managers, you can take steps to turn things around. I’ll show you five things you can start changing right away to improve engagement.

1. Process Automation

Intranet usage suffers the most when the platform is underutilized.

Do you employees still submit timesheets, vacation requests, and other reports by email? Move them to SharePoint, and automate tasks that don’t need to be handled manually.

People start working with new tools out of necessity at first, but when you show them how it will make their jobs easier – then you’ve got them hooked. Not only will employees get used to using the intranet, the automation will simplify processes that were once frustrating for them.  


2. Better Navigation

Nothing gets in the way of user adoption like poor navigation.

It’s crucial to keep things simple and easy to find. For example, if you’re using many site collections, consider which ones you can eliminate to simplify the navigation. You might need to write some code to keep the navigation consistent and organized through different collections.  


One way to approach this is to use a homepage link and dropdown for departments, another for teams, another for initiatives, projects, and so on. On top of that, you can leverage SharePoint subsites to organize content based on your navigation. For example, you may have a subsite labeled “Departments.” Underneath that, you can have a subsite for HR, one for IT, and all other departments in your organization. It makes things a lot easier to manage from a navigation perspective.

Once users can navigate through the intranet seamlessly, you want to make pages, files, and documents accessible and organized so they can find everything easily, which in turn will make them want to use the site more.

3. Streamlined Permissions & Governance 

Have you ever had to change permissions for new employees one by one, or remove a previous employee’s access? If so, you know what a mess it can turn into. As your organization grows, it gets harder to handle permissions on an individual basis, and keep track of who has access to what.

Instead, you can create groups, defining specific permissions each group can have, and then simply add or remove people to the group as needed.

4. Brand Your Intranet

Which do you think will keep employees more engaged: a platform with a SharePoint logo or one with your company brand on it?

By customizing your intranet, adding some brand elements and colors, you can make it feel more like home, and less like a third-party tool. 

You might even go a step further, and give your intranet a cool name. 

You should also broadcast company and individual accomplishments on the portal. Let’s say your sales team or a particular employee hit a major target for this quarter. Instead of just sending an email, post the accomplishment on the intranet. 

When it’s time for your next staff meeting, stream it live on the intranet for people who can’t attend in person, and leave a recorded version for those who missed the event completely. 

The bottom line is – you need content if you want people to stay interested in your intranet. It’s no different than your public facing website. Companies that update their site frequently with relevant, engaging content get a lot more out of their employees with SharePoint. No on likes to log in and see the same thing day after day. Keep things fresh and interesting, and you’ll find it easier to win them over.


5. Integrate SharePoint With Your Company Culture

In addition to branding, weaving your company culture into the portal can work wonders. 

Do your employees love using Yammer? Put it on your SharePoint homepage. Do they rally around food drives and other initiatives in the community? Add a place where they can read and comment on what’s happening. 

You can also use gamification and contests to keep people active on the site. Even when nothing special is going on, you can validate user participation by giving people a “thumbs up” when they leave an interesting comment. Any sort of acknowledgement can encourage participation.

It’s not easy to change employee habits, or convince people to give an old system a new chance.

Rather than just ordering people to use the intranet, you should develop a strategy that makes people want to use it. Then you will be on the path to lasting success with SharePoint.


Learn more about how Aerie gets company intranets up and running quickly with an Accelerated Intranet package.


Dave Fisher

Currently based in North Carolina, Dave Fisher, Aerie's founder, plays a variety of critical roles at Aerie, from developing new business and managing client relationships to back-end office logistics. “I try to give our team the tools and atmosphere so they can do what they do best,” he says. “I love how every project is unique — and it’s fun going to companies, learning what they do, understanding their needs and challenges, then being part of their success.”