Setting Targets for Intranet Growth

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Q: Our internal communications group is in the process of setting goals and measures for 2001. To measure the effectiveness of our internal communications plan, we do an annual online survey of our entire audience, as well as follow-up focus groups. As a quantitative measure of the success of our recently redesigned intranet site, we also track visitors and hits to the site.

How do we set realistic goals for growth in visitors and hits? We’d like our readership to continue to increase as we expand and improve the site, but we foresee a ceiling at which the growth will level off. We’d appreciate your suggestions.

Kim Willard

A: Dear Kim,

Because you say your survey is conducted online, I’m assuming that all your employees have equal access to computers and the knowledge of how to use your intranet. This would mean that you could potentially expect 100% of your employees to access the intranet at some minimal level of frequency. If this isn’t true, your actual percentage would be your maximum possible goal.

I’d suggest that rather than counting hits and visitors; you install some software that measures usage in more detail. Some common ones I’ve heard of or used include Web Trends and Key Lime. They can tell you more specifically which pages people are visiting, entering on, leaving from, downloading and printing out. You can often track unique visitors, rather than counting multiple visits by the same user. All of this will provide you with a more accurate picture of who is using what, and how often. This will provide a better foundation for setting goals.

Rather than visitors or hits overall, I’d set a target of nearly your entire employee base on computers, minus your average turnover (since it often takes people a while to get used to visiting an intranet) and expect all of them to visit the site at least once a month. When you find out where you are currently, you can set a series of goals year by year that will lead you to that ultimate level. Later you may want to change the goal to at least one visit per week. You may also want to be more specific and expect various percentages of visitors to visit different pages on the site. For example, you wouldn’t expect all employees to visit a job-posting page regularly, but you might expect them to visit the headlines page or the employee online publication more often.

You may need to do some focus group research to identify why people who never visit the site don’t and those who visit it infrequently don’t visit more often. This will help you meet your goals, or identify that there may be some barriers with certain groups that you will not be able to overcome, and exclude that part of your population from your goal. (For example, in many of our clients’ call center operations, employees cannot access email or the intranet while their sales or customer service programs are running and they are expected to be running during the entire shift. In these environments, productivity goals often result in managers not allowing employees to access electronic communication channels to which they may physically have potential access.)

Good luck with your goal setting,

Angela D. Sinickas