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First CWP meetup reveals what makes or breaks an intranet

The first Common Web Platform (CWP) meetup attracted over 30 people eager to learn, revealing what trends we’ve seeing in intranets, what to watch out for when building one, and demonstrations of what NZ government agencies are doing in this space. 

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The first Common Web Platform (CWP) meetup was held at SilverStripe headquarters on Thursday 15 June, 2017. The event attracted over 30 people eager to learn, revealing what trends we’ve seeing in intranets, what to watch out for when building one, and demonstrations of what NZ government agencies are doing in this space.

The 'Intranets in the Public Sector' Lunch & Learn

Paul Murray (All of Government ICT Capability Manager, DIA) started with an introduction to intranets, uncovering pitfalls in building and running one, and revealing trends we’re seeing across CWP.

View Paul Murray’s slides on SlideShare

Two speakers from the NZ public sector also demonstrated their own intranet built on SilverStripe CMS/Framework. Jennifer Geard (Web Editor, Pharmac) showed us Pharmac intranet where many functionalities of SilverStripe software helped keep things simple for their staff and open for user-led change. Benn Crawford (Product Owner, DIA) presented Beta PSI, the public sector intranet. Benn shared some impressive stats for the Beta PSI:

  • 220 publishers with 581 page edits every 2 weeks
  • 19,490 community users
  • 6,000 sessions per month across 162 agencies

There were some common threads in talks and group discussions:

1. Be clear on your intranet’s purpose

Prioritise what is most important, don’t try to be all things to all users. Having a clear purpose (whether it’s communication like the PSI or culture for Pharmac) will help dictate the priorities for features, integrations and content. If everything is deemed important, then really nothing is important!  

Purpose also helps you decide goals and metrics. Intranets should be measured just like other websites. DIA’s PSI uses Google Data Studio to create custom analytics dashboards to share with content creators to help them understand how their content performs.

Whatever you choose to make, have a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, – Benn Crawford, Product Owner, Public Sector Intranet, DIA

2. Treat your intranet as a service, not just a project

While website projects are more likely seen as ongoing services, intranets are often treated as one-off projects. This makes it hard to maintain momentum and engagement beyond launch. Intranets need to be constantly evolving and being updated to hold value – their audiences are repeat visitors who will disengage if the content isn’t timely, relevant and fresh. Consider how you will support the intranet post-launch to deliver ongoing value.   

An intranet shouldn’t be a set-and-forget. We should always refine and reorganise once something has been put into practice, – Ben Crawford

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but also to cull

Across both demos, there was an approach of creating MVPs and then experimenting on these. Jennifer shared great examples of experimenting but also being comfortable with failed experiments. Not every feature Pharmac tried has worked, but they were confident to remove those and move forward with new ideas.

What’s next?

'Make or break an intranet' banner


About the author
Nicole Williams

Nicole has over 10 years experience in marketing and communications. As Head of Product, she is responsible for overseeing product management, product delivery, and marketing at SilverStripe. Nicole is responsible for engaging with public sector agencies to drive forward the vision and roadmap for the Common Web Platform, harnessing the potential of open source to share government innovation

Nicole is an advocate for knowledge sharing, believing it’s key to keeping up with the pace of tech. Her writing has been featured on Hubspot, and Huffington Post.


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