And what to start working on to fix it.
You made a decision to invest both time and money into an intranet for your Franchise, and rightly so. You most likely also had a set of expectations, “if we just get the new platform in place, everything will be much better”, or something in that direction.
Now you have had your intranet for a while – and reality is not as bright as you hoped and expected. There are of course as many explanations to this as there are stars in the sky, but I will share some of the most common reasons why the implementation of a Franchise Intranet sometimes goes astray.
You’ve heard it said before: the key to any successful relationship is communication. Collaboration works when you actually talk to each other. It’s true for our personal relationships and it’s true for our work relationships and it’s crucial in a franchise network.
As a Franchise leader, you turned to an intranet solution to keep all your franchisees and their employees in the loop, operating seamlessly across distances, to improve communication and help them help themselves, so to speak.
The dream unravels
But, without any specific plan in place or a sense of the biggest pitfalls that most intranets succumb to, you will quickly find your dreams of your network easily sharing content and accessing resources unraveling. Processes like reporting and feedback that should be a no-brainer, become unwieldy and just plain irrelevant. The ROI on an intranet solution seems like a pipe-dream, a fool’s errand because it’s not simply that people are using it incorrectly - they’ve simply stopped using it altogether, if it even ever got off the ground to start with that is.
Let’s back up from this doomsday scenario before it even starts. Why do Franchise Intranet projects fail? It’s a simple concept: the distance between expectation and reality. You may deploy an intranet solution for communications and collaboration with the best of intentions but if you don’t craft it to the needs of your Franchisees’ realities, what is actually an excellent solution will end up being “dead on arrival”.
Here are the top 10 reasons that will trip up your intranet project to inevitable failure. If any of these sound familiar, read through to find out what you can do to address these logistical holes before they even happen. Want or need more help and input – strike up a chat with one of Chainformations experts. We have been doing this for the past 16 years and the collected experience will help you stay out of intranet related trouble.
1.What’s your “Why”?
When you’re considering implementing a Franchise Intranet solution, the first thing you want to ask yourself is this: what benefits are we looking for from our new intranet? Often, the failure to understand your “why” when addressing the actual need for the system, as well as “what” the system is supposed to help you achieve means you are not able to understand what pain points the system is meant to address and relieve for stakeholders. It’s like travelling, you have to know where you are going to know when you get there.
The Fix: Stop glossing over the “features” and “pricing” instead focus on business outcomes first. Perform a deep dive with several levels of stakeholders present to answer these questions, before even planning a change or implementation of an intranet solution. Gaining clarity about the benefits of the implementation of a Franchise intranet solution means you understand everyone’s roles, from the franchisor, shareholders and CEO to the franchisees and their employees, as well as what pain points they experience every day and how the intranet should be working to address these.
2.Who’s responsible for what?
A failure to understand who’s responsible for which part of implementation doesn’t just entail a failure to clearly delegate ownership and assign accountability. It also means that, as a leader, you did not embrace the support the project entirely, at the level of management and didn’t communicate this to the organization.
If you don’t delegate and assign ownership for the Intranet to a specific department or persona at HQ or you’ve simply failed to express clearly, the support for such a role from the top level of management, your lack of governance could spell a lopsided system, with room for misinterpretation and spelling inevitable failure.
The Fix: As part of the initial analysis and when answering the “why”, “what” and “who” of this proposed change project, you’ll want to identify key roles and create teams dedicated to each aspect of implementing the intranet solution.
- Buy it & They Will Come?
You need to understand and offer the appropriate features. This means that, as a leader of the franchise, you not only understand the behaviours of users at large - for example, that most applications are now mobile-first - but also the specific behaviours of YOUR franchisees, in the context of daily operations for your unique franchise type.
Don’t assume that you’ll be implementing a Franchise intranet solution and they will simply come. Take the time to understand who you’re serving and what it is you’re serving them, internally, in the same way you would for your customers. Make sure to tap in to the experience of the supplier, Chainformation has helped many Franchisors to reach the full potential of their Franchise Intranets.
The Fix: You’ll want to offer features that expedite communications such as: social updates and interactions, people directories, self-service functionality, a great search function, headline-based news and informal communication sections such as blogs.
4.Testing and buy in - or lack thereof
The idea of testing new ideas and projects in an organization is deeply flawed: most individuals think or “expect” that testing is something the software developer does, but you need insights gained from how YOUR users interacts with a system and that testing absolutely requires real-time communication. It’s not simply statistical.
Remember: whether or not the user will consider using the intranet solution as something worth the effort depends on the usefulness of its content and ease of use of features and this measurement does no occur in a vacuum. You need to communicate and get buy-in.
The Fix: Talk to your users to discover flaws in how the intranet delivers access to relevant content rather than relying solely on surveys or written feedback or, worse still, only relying on testing on personal devices. If you make the effort to address the nitty gritty of the user experience on a consistent basis, your intranet solution is going to remain constantly relevant to your employees through its interaction, layout and design. Make sure to test on multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as allowing users to occasionally switch to desktop versions even when on mobile, for the full experience.
When content on the internet and social media is thronging our senses at every turn, there’s never been a greater need or precedent for content that is specific, focused and well-curated to the context at hand. A failure to understand your franchisees shows up in a failure to tailor the content to suit the intranet as well as how your franchisees actually consume their content.
This can include texts that are way too long, written in too formal or academic of a voice or not including a variety of other medium, such as intertwining shorter texts with images, videos and illustrative photos with captions.
The Fix: Write for humans because you’re interacting with humans and they are interacting with each other. Make your content USEFUL, there has to be a clear benefit for your users why they should bother. Post content that can be fun, interesting and thoughtful. It does not have to be just boring mandatories, reports and such. Write internal gossip, who has an anniversary, got kids, reversed the car into their own shop window etc. Try this article for more insights on Intranet content
6.Easy to Access?
Let’s back up here: before you even dive into an intranet solution, check that it’s 100% designed for usage on mobile devices and small screens. It has to be fitted for the task. Too often, systems are too complicated for end users or requires a computer or laptop which most don’t have access to during their work day, which makes it difficult to access the intranet at all.
According to statistics the Mobile phone internet user penetration worldwide is 53%, in western markets up against 75%. This includes your franchisees and employees. Another pitfall that commonly occurs, even if complexity is addressed, is that the requirements of the intranet call for a speedy system that is able to handle multiple users and load simultaneously.
The Fix: You’ll need to get a Franchise intranet that is responsive, runs smoothly on mobile devices, loads pages quickly with minimal wait time, offers simple but rapid and relevant search results and offers role-based access to avoid information overload and finally, read tracking and usage statistics.
7.You don’t use the benefits that ARE offered
Even after all the best bells and whistles being offered for a smart system or platform, you simply are not harnessing the true power of integration and fail to understand the intranet’s capabilities.
The Fix: Take advantage of such features as statistics, tracking of user logins, the ability to see which pages are viewed and read by whom and content that’s not being consumed, because responding to these, and, indeed, having the capability to access this kind of insight, will help keep your company’s intranet viable and relevant. Besides this, make sure to implement best practices such as keeping user accounts up to date, making full use of user profiles by encouraging employees to completely fill out their profiles and updating employee databases by entering new staff and closing the accounts of those leaving.
8.Lack of HQ Discipline
Here’s the truth of it: the stakeholders with your Franchise intranet are your internal employees and franchisees whose intention is to help you run the franchise brand up to its standards. In such a light, you’ll want to expedite and support their intentions and be as disciplined yourself as you would expect them to be when interacting with and within the intranet.
The Fix: You need to have discipline at HQ and once your Franchise intranet is launched you need to cut of communication in other channels. No more mass emailing, no more re-inventing the wheel and answering the same questions over again. You must be consistent in guiding all queries to the intranet, upload each file once etc. as well as formulating an FAQ section for routine answers and keeping phone communications for emergencies and one-off cases only. You’ll also want to keep updated tools and resources that are accessible from and stored in only one location to avoid confusion and information overload as well as simply inefficient linking.
9.Failure to keep pace with development
The launch of an internal franchise intranet for communications and hub access is not the only point in time where you should be checking in with the functionality. Even the best performing intranets on smart platforms need upgrading and on-going development to, at minimum, keep pace with general web application standards. Failure to provide this could mean your users are on the receiving end of prolonged issues and decreasing usability.
The Fix: Make sure your supplier delivers a complete turn-key solution where all continuous development and upgrades are a part of your contract. Learn how upgrades and maintenance are carried out and let your users know well in advance. Do NOT involve yourself in building your own intranet or re-engineering a standard system like SharePoint. It will cost you dearly in both time and money just to manage minor regular updates. Chainformation cloud based Franchise Intranet is just “fire-and-forget” with all aspects of maintenance and development covered automatically.
10.Are you measuring Benefits v.s. Costs?
Besides the very obvious and upfront benefits of implementing an internal intranet solution for communication and collaboration, as management, it’s up to you to identify needs, translate these into benefits, whether perceived or real, and set some very real definitions for what constitutes a success. Without an awareness of these as well as the initiative required to define your own goals for the intranet, you’ll never be able to gain insight into whether the intranet is actually working to suit your needs as well as the needs of your employees.
The Fix: Let’s take an example: you define one of the goals for “success” of your newly-implemented intranet as “seeing a 25% decrease in incoming routine support e-mails”. A lofty goal, to be sure. But how are you going to be measuring it? Who is in charge of such a measurement? And how do users interact with the system to provide such a measurement? If you don't have a specific way to measure this goal, how are you supposed to evaluate if it’s worth the cost? And, furthermore, how can you know if it would be worth the cost to change or improve?
You want to always make sure that the benefit-v.s.-cost equation is more or less balanced instead of fixating on “features” alone or relying on only features to address user’s needs. The most successful intranets prove to be a living, breathing system and it requires nurturing.
Final wrap up
The Change Question
Change is a difficult thing for any individual to swallow, whether it is a leader who knows change is inevitable, or it is an employee trying to wrap his or her head around what this change will mean for their daily operations.
However, change within an organization is particularly tricky for all the reasons outlined here. Projects like implementing a Franchise Intranet has its trickyness to handle as they require the change of peoples daily and well worn in routines.
The Fix: The bottom line is that your Franchise intranet project require agility for implementation. In order to make change less painful to accept on a conceptual basis, you’ll need to plan well. Think through the phases and aspects of the change project, delegating the responsibility to manage certain parts, keep everyone on the same page, and think about how to build agility into the project so you can make changes in real-time rather than waiting for the implement-measure-feedback model that may often bog down this change.
Setbacks and obstacles are an inevitable part of the process when a project such as implementing an intranet solution, is on the table. However, what’s not inevitable and completely possible to avoid is its complete and utter failure. As long as you plan to plan instead of failing to plan, your solution will fit your ultimate needs. First, keep these pitfalls in mind and take time to do the groundwork, asking why, what, and who.
Does all this seem overwhelming? It’s not.
There are specialists available, bring them onboard and let them do the heavy lifting and get your Franchise intranet project where it should be, so you can stay focused on your core business.