EP 014

What is an Intranet?

What is an intranet? Is it different from an Employee Portal? What are they good for? What are they BAD for?

We're boiling it down to some basics here so you can understand how an Intranet can help you and your organization.

Hosted By
Matt Dressel
Mitch Herrema
Mike Bodell
Produced By
Mitch Herrema
Edited By
Eric Veeneman
Music By
Eric Veeneman


Mitch Herrema (00:05):

Hey everyone, welcome back to Make Others Successful, a podcast where we aim to make you successful in your workplace so that you can then make others successful and keep cascading that down forever and ever. It's gonna be a great world. In that case, you guys. Yeah. Really looking forward to

Matt Dressel (00:22):

It. Can't wait.

Mitch Herrema (00:23):

Yeah. I'm joined with Matt Dressel and Mike Bodell. Today we're gonna be talking about intranets and what is an intranet, and it's something that I think we take for granted a little bit because we say, oh, we sell intranets and we'll help you build an internet. And some people look at us with a dumb look and they're like, what is an internet like, I think I maybe know, but I don't really know if I have an internet. Is that that thing that my browser opens to when I, when I open a new window? So anyway, we wanted to dig into some of the history of intranet, what it is, what it's good for some options for building an intranet, and really just kinda open up the, the conversation to see where it goes. So Matt, you were starting us off with a little bit of a history lesson. Yeah.

Matt Dressel (01:15):

More of a terminology discussion. So, I mean, it's really interesting. Like I, when I started out as a technologist in, in computer science, right? You take a networking class and they talk about internet intranet, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And those two words from a tech, from a networking standpoint have specific meanings. And it's about the public's facing, like, like I'm connected to the outside world, or I'm just on my own internal network, right. And

Mitch Herrema (01:40):

Internet being the thing, everyone knows what it's, yeah. The cloud intranet is closed off to

Matt Dressel (01:45):

The world. Yeah. And it's just my private stuff. Yeah. And then, you know, for me, like I've been doing it from a technology perspective in intranets and, and implementing them has been something that I've been doing forever, it feels like. Right. 20 years, 25 years at least. Right. And so, you know, I'm sure when it first came up, there was some thought in my mind about that, but I have long since forgot that whole concept, and it's just natural for me. Right. but I also think from a terminology perspective, there's also, we've had this discussion about portal versus intranet, right?

Mitch Herrema (02:17):

Yeah. Employee portal.

Matt Dressel (02:18):

Employee portal. Right. And it's a challenging terminology thing, right? Because what does it really mean to people, right? If, if I were to use the word portal, does it mean something different than an intranet? Right. Right. And it, it's just really interesting when I think about the terms and I think about what's been applied to it. Just to clarify, we'll start with this right now, right? Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (02:37):

What is

Matt Dressel (02:37):

An intranet? What is an intranet? An intranet is site An application. A tool.

Mitch Herrema (02:43):

Yeah. I refer to it as a website.

Matt Dressel (02:44):

Yeah. A website to enable communication across an organization or a group of people. Right? So it is internally facing, so the, the terminology intranet and the internet versus intranet is still applies. Cause it's, it's secured. It's just for this small group of, or this, I shouldn't say small, small in the sense of not, you know, everybody in the world. Right. this group of people. and it's content that's targeted towards them to provide information for them and in the context of a business to help them do their job, whatever that means. Right? Sure. And when I say whatever that means, like, it, it truly means it could be different for different organizations pretty significantly. We've done it a long time. I can tell you there's, you know, five things that are like almost always you want to have included in an intranet. but that's what an intranet is. An intranet is this resource for storing that content and sharing that content. Sure.

Mike Bodell (03:39):

I think your history lesson is actually really interesting because as I think about that term, it's most interesting that the term itself, the network networking terminology has been hijacked mm-hmm. <affirmative> to mean something completely different. And in a world now where everyone's internet for the most part is being built on the internet

Matt Dressel (03:58):

<laugh> Yeah. It's on a cloud service,

Mitch Herrema (04:00):

Right? It's, it's no longer the thing where you have to be at work in order to access, right? Correct. Cause it's on a local server or something.

Mike Bodell (04:06):


Matt Dressel (04:06):

Right. But it's still private. It's still Right. Local to you.

Mitch Herrema (04:10):

Thus, do we start using the term employee portal? Because in intranet doesn't,

Matt Dressel (04:15):

You know, we had this conversation, you know, we had this conversation,

Mitch Herrema (04:17):

But I'm just saying that opens the door to that.

Matt Dressel (04:19):

I know it does. Like, I, when we had that discussion, I sat just a hair, just like a sliver more on the side of employee portal, but it doesn't, like both terms are like, it's difficult for someone to really, like, then we'd be having a podcast to try to explain what employee portal is, right? Yeah. People don't understand that for me either. Let's

Mitch Herrema (04:38):

Just, let's just asterisks here, this is also what is an employee portal. Yeah. Okay. Correct. Same thing. We're gonna cover both faces.

Matt Dressel (04:43):

Yeah. Cause of the same thing. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (04:44):

Yeah. So do you wanna dig into, you gave us a little bit of a teaser. What, what's good to put on an intranet? Yeah. What, what are like a couple high level things that people like to

Matt Dressel (04:56):

Put on there? Yeah. So if I were to, if you, if some, if somebody came to me and they said, I'm, I want you to build me a portal, but I'm not gonna tell you what I want on it, and you just gotta go do it, and I'll pay you if you do the right thing.

Mitch Herrema (05:08):

I would bet. Which we do not recommend to be clear, we

Matt Dressel (05:11):

Don't recommend these are the five things I'd put on it. Yep. News. So anything that you're sending currently email to all employees, stop doing that. Yeah. And put it on, on the, the intranet and then share a link to it.

Mitch Herrema (05:25):

Which is interesting. The term news too. I was just talking to one of our new employees who some of you you may get to meet in the future on a future podcast episode. We'll see, she was mentioning, when I think of news, I think of like, what's going on in the world. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> internal news, like what's going on in an organization sometimes might not be readily apparent as to what that means.

Matt Dressel (05:48):

Correct. Yeah. And so I call it news because, you know, when I come into organizations, a lot of times they send out a monthly or weekly newsletter and they call it a newsletter, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. and it's a PDF or something or an email. Just an email. And that's where that comes from. And instead of posting a weekly newsletter, take all of those tidbits of information and storm on the intranet, and then once a week say, Hey, we updated it with these latest things, or let them get auto, auto notified. Like there's lots of options, but news that would be probably number one. Okay.

Mitch Herrema (06:20):

Yeah. Which we talked a bit about in our iterative intranet's Yep. Episode. Correct. If you haven't heard that before, feel free to go check that out. We talk a lot about how you can use news as like kind of a low-hanging fruit for getting, getting

Matt Dressel (06:33):

People started. Yeah. A hundred percent. The next thing would be policies and procedures. So we're talking basic information about your insurance, about how, you know, expenses work, how PTO works, like all of those, there's

Mitch Herrema (06:47):

Things that people have to look at once every couple years.

Matt Dressel (06:49):

Yep. And they, but they, if you don't have it in a central place like this, they send an email to HR and or their manager and like, how do I do this again? And it sometimes they'll answer one way. Sometimes they'll answer a different way. Maybe they aren't updated on the latest policy of how it

Mitch Herrema (07:04):

Works. Yeah. Would've they searched for an email from years ago? Yeah. And it's happens time different now.

Matt Dressel (07:08):

Yeah. so pol policy, like, like policies and procedures, that kind of thing. Another, like, I would almost put it as a, so one would be hr. I would almost put it as a third point, which is policy and procedures, non HR related. So like we do it for our playbooks, like how we run projects, how those projects should work. Like when we have a new employee, we have, we've got a new employee, like send them to this resource and that's gonna give them a leg up in understanding how they should be doing their job without having to sit through a training session or in addition to a training session. Right? Sure. Like a, a leave behind resource. Right. Another piece is, so the, we're, we're up to four now. So a fourth piece would be branding and marketing stuff. People are constantly looking for, you know, I need to have the an email template for sending out such and such marketing thing, or a response to a sales thing, or

Mitch Herrema (08:01):

Yeah. What should I put in my email subject?

Matt Dressel (08:03):

Correct. All of that. All of that kind of stuff would be a hundred percent. That would be another thing to put in there. Well

Mike Bodell (08:08):

Now more than ever, if you have people who are multiple people involved in your social efforts, right? Yeah. Social engagement you want them to be working from the same templates and playbook.

Matt Dressel (08:17):

Absolutely. Yep. And the last thing, so the fifth thing that I would put would be information about mission and values and communicating your culture. So a lot of people, you have some of that on your public facing website and that's great, but that doesn't speak to your employees. And you would speak to your employees differently than you would speak to your customers or the outside world. Not meaning that you have different values. Like, not in all any way saying that, but the way you talk about it is gonna be different. Right? Yeah. How, what does, you know, integrity mean for an employee, right? you may want to ex describe that differently to a customer and use different terms. The meaning is the same one may be more actionable to the employee versus what they can experience as a customer, right?

Mitch Herrema (09:02):

Yeah. It reminds me a lot about when we're building landing pages for intranets and trying to figure out the purpose of what they are and where the people that we're teaching tend to go versus where we Oh yeah. Steer them to go. Right. Yeah. Can you summarize that a little bit?

Matt Dressel (09:19):

<laugh> people, when you talk about intranets and you ask somebody, some of our customers, what that means, some of our customers when I talk about it, they're like, we had an intranet and here's what it was. And they show you a picture and it's 500 links Yep. On a page. Yep. Right? And that is very, very common when somebody says, they start thinking about, well, the content they put on, put on a landing page, which is what you were talking about. They go right to, this is all about making it so people can click on this link and get to what they need to get to without having to go and look for it. Right. Right. And so their, their first thing is, I just need 50 links on this page. Yeah. Like, that's my, that's the most important thing. Like, so

Mitch Herrema (09:57):

We're, we're sharing what an internet should not be.

Matt Dressel (09:59):

Yeah. This, in this case, it's not what it should be. Yeah. But you asked me like, where, where people go, a lot of people go that way when they talk about, when they, when they talk about building landing pages, building pages they go to, this is all about the information I need to make it really simple for them to get to that information. And you know, especially in the modern intranets that we're building today, you can have it both ways. You can make it really easy for somebody to find a quick link that they need to find and have context about what that is. Right. Yeah. Like the intranet should be a place to help explain to people why this tool, why this thing is important to them so they can understand what it is in addition to find the link quick and be able to get to where they wanna go.

Mitch Herrema (10:42):

Yeah. I feel like a lot of that comes out conversationally usually when you're trying to explain like, Hey, welcome to the team. Here's why we do all these things. Yep. But rarely does it like, live somewhere that is readily like readable. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we're like, Hey, all those things that you wanna instill in people, put it

Matt Dressel (11:01):

Here. Yeah. Write it down. Yeah. Put it, put it down somewhere. And, and with the modern tools, make it oh, into something that people want to consume, want to sit down and read through and understand. And you will see change in your business. It may take a while to happen, but you will see, if you're dedicated and focused on it, you will see it change.

Mike Bodell (11:20):

And we've talked about things like onboarding, for example, in previous discussions. And I think like onboarding is a prime example of something that, you know, an intranet would be a great prerequisite. Right.

Matt Dressel (11:32):

So it's really interesting you said that, that way there's a lot of people who I think really believe an intranet is only for new employees, right? Like they, they have this, there's a perception about not being able to maintain intranets mm-hmm. <affirmative>. and because you can't maintain it, you only ever really care about it when a new employee comes in. Cuz everybody else knows who to ask. And it's all good. The reality is, if you are doing it right, and you have all of the people who are supposed to be storing content on the internet, sending people to the internet, and you have all of the con the news and you're doing it from a business perspective, moving that content out of email and out of other things into the internet, it becomes its own thing. And it is used by everyone. But like, which is where, like you talked about onboarding, when we talk about it, we are talking about it in addition to the intranet. Right? Right. Like it would use some of the same resources, but it's, it's an additional functionality feature. We've talked about it for our own team onboarding. Right. Right. The, we wanna build the internet for everyone. And when we have that good, let's make something targeted just for on, for onboarding. Right? Sure.

Mitch Herrema (12:40):

And I feel like I could speak a little bit to my personal, like, we have an internet. Yeah. And while Yes, it is true that it is a resource that I could use all the time, I do probably use it less than a new person. Right. For sure. Like when someone is on board, we, we point them in that direction and they use it as a resource to like fill in time and, and read about things and learn about things. And while I have a lot of that internalized, I use it for things you talked about earlier, what news is going on, random happenings and things to celebrate what's, when

Matt Dressel (13:16):

You coming up, don't remember something that you only use twice a year. Right,

Mitch Herrema (13:19):

Right. Right. Yeah. Exactly. Like we're starting a new doctor or something and it's like, what are our benefits? And I need to look that up. It's, it's all that kind of stuff that

Matt Dressel (13:29):

It's really interesting. I know to go, like I'm, I'm, you know, I I'm, I'm an owner in the business. I make decisions. I'm one that creating a lot of the content that's going on the internet. I use it to try to remember what I decided <laugh>. Right. Like it, we are generating a lot of stuff as an organization, as a business about how all that stuff works. And we may have other resources that I could go look at, but that's the one that my employees are using. So that better be Right. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (13:55):

Right. Yeah. There's a good, it's like crap. What were the, the holidays this year? Yeah. Like is it the Monday before Christmas or what, what Yeah. Or Friday. Yeah, Friday before Christmas. Friday before, yeah. And so it's like, let's just go look that up real quick. Yeah,

Matt Dressel (14:09):

Yeah, yeah. Because otherwise, like, cuz like, it's one of the benefits of using the resource is that number one I have a place that I can look if I forget or to make sure that I'm being consistent. Right. But then also if I don't like what was written, I better do something about it. Yeah. Right. And I better change that one because that's what everybody's reading. That's what everybody's gonna be using as their resource. Right? Yeah. And I have confidence that if I change it that one place, everybody's gonna know about it. Everybody's gonna see

Mitch Herrema (14:35):

It. Yeah. Which part of this conversation is identifying what an intranet is not. And one thing you talked about was like a collection of links. Links. Yeah. How does an intranet relate to an employee handbook? Mm. Because it's not an employee employee handbook, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it's Correct. It's re related.

Matt Dressel (14:55):

Yeah. So it's, it's interesting. We've talked to a number of organizations about this. I think it sparks a lot of conversations honestly, about why they have an employee handbook. Right. And what's the meaning of it if it is meant as a contractual vehicle for an employee and the employer Yep. The intranet will never really fit that need. Yep. It never will. However, employee handbooks as they traditionally have been created and managed are a nightmare to maintain, manage, update search, find content, provide content, et cetera. So what those organizations traditionally will do is they will have an official version of the handbook on, on the intranet so that people can download it and look at it and see what the most ver recent version is. But they'll also have large quantities of that content. Not necessarily duplicated, but, you know, reinterpreted as pages on the intranet because it's so much easier to find that information. It's so much easier to consume that information than Yeah. A huge book that you have to go leaf through, if you will. Right.

Mitch Herrema (15:57):

Yeah. That's another, like the physical book that you get on your first day on

Matt Dressel (16:02):

On first day. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (16:03):

They're pretty, and they're nice and I, I like the, like how they feel and like it, when you have something physical, it means something different than digital. But man, it's a lot different than updating a webpage. They

Matt Dressel (16:15):

Cost a lot of money. Yeah. Especially if you wanna do 'em really good. Yeah. Like full color tabbed, like I I've seen lots of really good ones out there, but they're not cheap. They're a big expense for the company. And then maintaining them is really, really difficult because it's a process. Because none of it is, you know, it's, it's not like you go into a Word document and update it. You're usually updating it and then getting designers involved and format. Like it's, it's a, it's a process. Yeah. it's like publishing a new version of a book.

Mitch Herrema (16:45):

Yeah. So is there anything else that in intranet is not that people tend to think of it as?

Matt Dressel (16:53):

So another point that I would make is, for us, at least the way we think about intranets and talk about intranets, it is not a space to collaborate. Yeah. Okay. There's a lot of people who look at SharePoint and you say, oh, you're gonna build an intranet on SharePoint and Oh, SharePoint can do collaboration. So I should put all of my like collaboration. Like, I wanna store documents that I wanna share it with somebody so we can edit it at the same time. Which

Mitch Herrema (17:14):

Pause for a second for those that maybe not know what SharePoint is. Oh yeah. It's a tool within Microsoft that is a common solution for intranets. Yep. But there's a different half to it that is meant for collaboration. So maybe correct

Matt Dressel (17:27):

Clients. Well it's, it's really interesting because both whether or not you're in a com communication or a collaboration space in SharePoint, you can collaborate, right? Like there's nothing Yeah. The technology, you know Google Docs and Word online, if you have a Word document or a Google Doc or whatever, you can edit it. Like you can regardless,

Mitch Herrema (17:46):


Matt Dressel (17:47):

Wherever It doesn't, it doesn't matter where it lives. Yeah. Which is where people get confused. They're like, I want to be able to edit this thing. And then they end up in a situation where their permissions had all messed up or somebody updates something and it gets published when it shouldn't be published. Like all of these challenges and intranet shouldn't, is is meant for a small group of editors and contributors and a very large group of consumers Now for our organization, the difference between the delta, between the two is not that big. Yeah. Right. Most people in our organization can edit the intranet. Yeah. Right. but at that's we're, that's only cuz we're very small. Right? Like, we're a very small organization. You larger organizations, you're gonna have five, 10 people editing the intranet and you're gonna have hundreds, thousands of people consuming it. And that's the intent, right? Yeah. If, if you're, if you're like, Hey, I wanna store my documents, my, I wanna store my draft procedure document and get a working group to go update it, that should not be happening on the internet. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (18:46):

How should, I was just gonna ask what should that flow look like? Where if, let's say the internet is the final stage where now everyone can see it, what happens under the hood?

Matt Dressel (18:56):

Yeah. So our recommendation is those things should happen in teams like we, we call 'em team shared workspaces, but like for us teams, the tool has teams shared workspaces that you can create that create SharePoint sites that are collaboration sp sites. That's the space that's meant for that. Or individual SharePoint sites that are meant for collaboration. Sometimes you don't want all the team collaboration features of team shared workspaces. You just want the, the file sharing and file management components or list management. So create a SharePoint site but not a communication site that's open to the whole organization. It's dedicated to what you want to do. So in our case, for us internally, we have like a leadership team in a leadership channel. We generate content in that all the time. That's our working space for us to collaborate. When we wanna post it on the portal, we take the, what we have, we, we make sure it's good, we clean it up and we post it the portal. Right. Like that's our process. Yep. There's lots of different variants of that. We've implemented all sorts of fancy workflow to automatically do some of that, but the principle is the same. Yeah. What, so just don't do your collaboration on the intranet.

Mike Bodell (20:01):

So your HR team and your legal team can work on the next version of the handbook. Correct. Right. Together separate.

Matt Dressel (20:08):


Mike Bodell (20:08):

Together finish it up. And when they're happy with it, they produce the final version and post it on the

Matt Dressel (20:15):

Internet. You can even work with your external HR consultant. Right. So, or lawyer, you bring them into your team, your, and bring an external person in and you all collaborate on it in that team. Right. And then when it's all done, you either have someone internal or your SharePoint administrator or intranet administrator manage and post that out to the intranet.

Mitch Herrema (20:33):

Yeah. One, like real life example, just, I think it happened yesterday or today, we had a quarterly update Oh yeah. Slide deck that we had in a PowerPoint. Like we were actually editing it and using it as a slideshow for the team. And when we wanted to post that to share with everyone as like a historical, Hey, thanks for coming to the update, I exported it as a pdf d we stored it somewhere else and linked to it that way. Yeah. So it's one not editable anymore and it stores as a Yeah. As historical event. Like something that, that is frozen in time, so to speak.

Mike Bodell (21:11):

And, and by the way, you can use that event, that occurrence of that event as a news post. Right. Right. so in the handbook scenario, all of a sudden everybody gets an alert, there's a new handbook. Yep. Right. You can give them instructions to go review the handbook and then

Mitch Herrema (21:26):

Yeah. Oh,

Mike Bodell (21:27):

We've got a way to go sign it. Yeah. We

Matt Dressel (21:28):

Gotta get We're as, we're not as good on that. We're not perfect. That's true. Yeah. We, we fail <laugh> to that point, in particular, the new employees that we've had recently, they've said it's been very refreshing to be able to go back and look at those quarterly updates. Right, right. Yeah. Like we have a lot of other content that we produce on our local, our our our intranet, which we named by the way, like, which is another. We haven't talked about that yet, but that's an interesting thing. You wanna

Mitch Herrema (21:51):

Talk about that? We can, it's one of those like play on words of bulb digital. So

Matt Dressel (21:56):

No, but I don't mean that. I don't, I don't wanna talk about that. That's not what I, what I mean is the intranet problem results in almost every organization I know has named their their intranet something else. Yeah. That

Mitch Herrema (22:07):


Matt Dressel (22:07):

Fair. Right. Like that like every like, and the reason they do that is because intranet doesn't, that's why people don't know. That's when we talked about the term. Yeah. Another reason people don't know it is very few organizations say, let's go to the intranet. Right. To go find it. They say the hub or the

Mitch Herrema (22:22):

Framework or the framework. We have a that or the

Matt Dressel (22:24):

Framework or the, oh, what was the other one? There's a bunch of these terms and that's what they use and they brand it because intranet is such a generic

Mitch Herrema (22:33):

Term. Yeah. And the employees come to understand that term. That is the framework. That's not the intranet. Correct. Yeah. But we really know the truth. Right? Yeah.

Matt Dressel (22:42):

Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Bodell (22:43):

So another thing an intranet is not anymore, at least shouldn't be, is a network share.

Matt Dressel (22:50):

Oh yeah.

Mitch Herrema (22:51):

Oh, you might ruffle some feathers with this one. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's like one of the number one reasons people go to SharePoint online or that's similar tools. We have this file share

Matt Dressel (23:03):

And I wanna move on.

Mitch Herrema (23:04):

Yeah. Yeah. So we need share, we need an internet. Yeah.

Matt Dressel (23:07):


Mitch Herrema (23:08):

Why is it not <laugh>? Explain.

Mike Bodell (23:11):

So take it all the way back to the, the networking term intranet. Right. By definition, if you have a server sitting in a closet with a bunch of files on it that are shared with everybody in the company, that's the intranet in

Matt Dressel (23:25):

Terms of why can't I just move all those files onto SharePoint, <laugh>, and it's the intranet.

Mike Bodell (23:30):

well first of all, you can, you can, yeah, you can. First of all, I would say the chances of all of those files, like if you're still operating in that world, you've probably been operating in that world for a very long time. So you have a lot of files and you're probably outgrowing that that server and the chances of all of those files being relevant and meaningful to people in your organization today is slim. so that's one of the reasons that I would tell you don't do it. because you're just gonna bring legacy burden into that, that new place. so often what we would recommend in that scenario is to do an audit. Look at that con content, identify what's redundant, outdated, trivial and identify what, what are the things that should be on the internet. So when you talked about like those five things, identifying what those things are for your organization, what is the low hanging fruit? What are the things you're gonna get value out of? And then dovetailing all that stuff that's in your network share with that strategy I think is important as opposed to just lift and shift because I need to get off the server. Right?

Matt Dressel (24:33):

Yeah. So the, the other thing I would raise is that why does someone think that word documents and PDFs are okay to communicate that type of information, right? Like that type of communication is not good, right? Like there's, if you're sitting on a file share today, if you have a file share today to those people, I'm speaking directly to you, people who have a file share, think about the stuff that you have and think about why it is in those tools. The only reason you really need a Word document is if you're gonna print it.

Mitch Herrema (25:02):


Matt Dressel (25:02):

Who's gonna print it? Who's gonna print the schedule of when your holidays are?

Mitch Herrema (25:09):

Hold on. I'll even, I'll even add to that A word doc is for when you need to edit something. Yeah. Pdf PDF

Matt Dressel (25:15):

Is what you wanna print it when you

Mitch Herrema (25:16):

Wanna distribute it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don't be distributing word docs to people.

Matt Dressel (25:19):

Yeah. Don't be distributing word, word documents, but hey, guess what? If I have a file share and I wanna be able to edit it later on, I probably still have it in a Word doc. Yeah. Cause it's too much work for me to manage the PDF in the portal. Right? Like you need to rethink how you're thinking about the transmitting this information. People are comfortable consuming content in their, in a web browser, in a web context. That is how you should be delivering it. The reason you're likely not doing that today is you aren't a web developer. But the good news is there are tools out there today that allow you to do that stuff in a web-based environment, easily convenient. Like it's not that much work. It's not that much learning about how to do it, do it. And there is so much more power, so much more options, so much more engagement you can with your employees by using on intranet versus files and a file share.


Yep. Yes. There are files in the file share that will go into your intranet and we'll be the source of doing it. We still have a employee handbook that is a pdf d that we distribute. We still have presentations like Mitch was just talking about that we distribute as a pdf. But those go into a news article that have push notifications about when they happen and has like comments and have thumbs up and we can see how many times people viewed it. And you want all of those, you should want all of those other things you can provide, see value in using those other things.

Mike Bodell (26:37):

Yeah. So the engagement that you can measure from an intranet, a real intranet experience, a modern intranet experience is a wholly different thing from what you'll get out of a

Matt Dressel (26:45):

Network share. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Mitch Herrema (26:47):

You're selling me what what else? It's, you're sold. Yeah. What else should I expect to get out of an intranet?

Matt Dressel (26:53):

Okay, so we're gonna switch topics now we wanna know what else we can get out of it. So really intranets should be focused on the business outcomes that you need to achieve. Right? And I look at an intranet as facilitating those business goals, right? If you have, you know, 20 employees and they've been with you for 40 years and you've never changed your policies and procedures and you all sit around a desk and chat every day, you probably don't need an intranet. Wait a

Mike Bodell (27:22):

Minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute. You just described a company with 20 employees who've been with you for 40 years.

Matt Dressel (27:27):


Mike Bodell (27:28):

This is like an old people's home.

Mitch Herrema (27:30):

Correct. <laugh>.

Matt Dressel (27:31):

It's a very contrived scenario, Mike. Right.

Mitch Herrema (27:34):


Mike Bodell (27:35):

So I bet they don't know how to computer

Matt Dressel (27:37):

In that sen in that scenario. You don't. You don't. That's

Mitch Herrema (27:39):

Another business. Do

Matt Dressel (27:40):

It. Your business goals probably don't include growth or new employees or a change in, in market. Or if it does, you're all on the same page cause you're in the same room talking about the same stuff all the time. Right. if you have business goals that are like, I want to in, like we're, we're, we're losing too many employees. Okay, let's do some in investigation about what's causing that loss of employees. Right. If that loss of employees is related to not feeling connected to what's going on, lack of communication about what's going on on internet can help in that, that I would immediately, that would be the my number one goal. Let's go make that happen. Right?

Mitch Herrema (28:17):

Yeah. How about, how about one we've heard before, which is there's rumors going around Yeah, yeah. About things. Yeah. And

Matt Dressel (28:22):

Nobody knows what's real and what's not real, right? Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (28:25):

Well, no, an internet, you have a source of truth.

Matt Dressel (28:27):

That's, that's the source of truth official. And if I put it there, that's what, that's what we're doing. That is the thing. Right?

Mike Bodell (28:32):

So you can control the narrative.

Mitch Herrema (28:33):


Matt Dressel (28:35):

If you have a business goal that is to maybe get into a new market, right? Like maybe you're trying to engage in an, in a new space for your organization, right? I would say from an intranet you should be focused on training those, your employees and, and communicating with your employees about this new market that you're gonna get into. What's that look like? How's that happening? Like it should be part of your business plan to go make that happen would be to include that content on the intranet. It is, for me, it's not about any technical thing. If somebody came to me, which they do and say I just want this cool new wizbang feature of the tool, it's not doing them a lot of good. Yeah. Right. in our, we, we talk about it all the time. That means that they've self-diagnosed that this wizbang feature is somehow gonna help them with whatever they need to do. Right. We always like to say, what are you trying to do as a business? And we'll help you identify the features within SharePoint or within the technology across the board that can help you achieve those goals.

Mitch Herrema (29:34):

Right. Right. It's a dramatic example, but what doctor would do open heart surgery on you, just cuz you asked just

Matt Dressel (29:39):

Cuz you asked. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep.

Mitch Herrema (29:41):


Mike Bodell (29:41):

Do some diligence there. And, and,

Matt Dressel (29:43):

And so, so when you ask the question about what, like what other things you, there are so many things, right? business reporting maybe, maybe you have a problem in your business where information isn't being quickly distributed to everyone in the organization. KPIs, business analytics in a great power, bi into, into the, the, the intranet integrate reporting into the intranet. Maybe you're having a problem where we have an intranet, we have content, but we don't have engagement. Okay, let's talk about Viva. Connect with teams, right? Let's talk about how we, we get people, you know, why people aren't people going there? Well the only people who write anything on it are, you know, HR and it's all just HR stuff. Cool. Let's get your executive team writing and posting on the intranet on a regular basis. Yeah. Right. Once a month have them post something that is important to the business. Right. People are gonna start looking at it, people are gonna start using

Mike Bodell (30:34):

It. Oh, but now you're talking about cultural change.

Matt Dressel (30:37):

It is cultural change it, the intranet should support your culture and your culture should support your business

Mike Bodell (30:42):

Goals. And I, I think that's one of the things that we've seen, you know, in the years that we've done this, and we've talked about this before too. We've done intranet projects for companies and come back five years later and asked, how's that, how's that thing going? And the answer is, nobody's touched it in five years. Oh yeah. Right. Because the cultural change didn't happen because at that time in the organizations that we were a part of, we were brought in as basically kind of an it was an IT need, right? Yeah. It was an IT project, not a business project. and that's one of the, like when when you're looking at an intranet, you should not look at it as a lift and shift moving my stuff from my network share to the cloud. You really need to look at it in terms of how is this gonna impact my business for the better? Yeah. And how is it going to change, how does my business need to change to be better? Cuz that's the real opportunity. Cuz if you don't do that the reality is you're gonna spend money with maybe a team like us to help you get that first iteration done and then without the cultural change and the right people involved to like drive that forward five years later, you won't be using it.

Matt Dressel (31:47):

So it is really interesting that we, we've also experienced the inverse of that. And it's really related to this honestly, because when they asked for an internet, they didn't really know what they were asking for. And then we go through a process where we, I understand their business and understand what's going on and design a, a solution and say, Hey, these are the areas that you should probably focus on and help them understand what they can, what's possible. Right? And then we come back a year later and they're like, we didn't know. We didn't know. People are asking us all the time to put stuff on this thing. People really want to use it all the time. Like we just constantly are getting these, this feedback of this is great, we want more of this, we want more of this. How can we do this more?


What, why can't we do more like this? Right. And they didn't realize that it was gonna do all of these other things for their business. But that happened because when they, when we had the discussion, their executive team, their leadership team has said, we're going to support this. And what, what they mean mean what I'm, what we mean by that, when we talk about that, we don't mean sending out an executive memo saying we're using the intranet. The intranet is the way forward. Right. Right. What we mean is they had an employee that came up and asked him a question and rather than pointing 'em to an HR person, they said, Hey, there's a page on the intranet that has this material. You should go out and use that resource

Mike Bodell (32:59):

Right there. There's a better way. Somebody like raised their hand and said, there must be a better way and embraced it.

Matt Dressel (33:05):

The embrace part is the important part and embraced means promoting it. Like

Mitch Herrema (33:10):

Lead by example,

Matt Dressel (33:11):

Lead by example.

Mitch Herrema (33:12):

Use it when you have opportunity to

Matt Dressel (33:13):

Show people, like when somebody asks a question about that thing. Like, like if you're in a meeting and somebody's asking, I'm gonna take you out to the internet. Go, I'm gonna take you here and show yourself using it to get the information. So that speaks volumes to people.

Mike Bodell (33:26):

And that thing you're talking about is the champions model that we've talked about before, right?

Matt Dressel (33:31):

Yeah. Getting PE right.

Mike Bodell (33:32):


Matt Dressel (33:33):

Those that you're a hundred percent right. So the executive team is one, one end of it. The other piece of it is getting more people across the organization. Cause the executive team only, you know, is involved with so many employees, so many people having it in a bigger organization, especially having a champions where each group has one or two people who are on a daily basis thinking about and when people are asking questions can think about ways to promote this technology and the use of it, it can have a transformative effect on the

Mike Bodell (34:00):

Usage. Yeah. And I think the, one of the most transformative things about that change is the empowerment that's happening across the organization at all levels. So instead of things being dictated mm-hmm. <affirmative> Right. Or feeling like it's being dictated. Everyone's involved and engaged. Yeah. And committed to and interested in the outcomes that are being produced. Yeah. And I think that's one of the best things that can happen in a business.

Mitch Herrema (34:21):

Yeah. Yeah. I think we can talk about this for a long time. I want to transition to a couple like actionable things that people could take or things that they could start researching and looking into. But before I do that, Mike brought up the, your contrived example about people not knowing how to computer Yeah. We're talking about a digital solution here and some people do get scared when we're not talking about printed paper anymore and filing cap. Like, it's like you gotta log on your computer and go to a website. Yeah. Can you talk about that hurdle a little bit and how to get over it?

Matt Dressel (34:57):

It's definitely a challenge. I don't know that an intranet is gonna solve that challenge Yeah. Or help with that challenge tremendously. I think what I, what I will say is compared to what this technology was where the technology was sitting five years ago, even, there's a lot better integrations and options. You know, you can get to a situation where somebody, maybe they can't use a computer very well, but they can use their phone maybe, or they still know how to use email. Like email is still really comfortable to them, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, having an email digest that's automatically sent to people that can help bridge that gap. Yeah. Right. Is it gonna solve the whole problem? No. You know, the, the only other things to think about are like, look at your content in various web modes, train your people about how to use things like scaling browser settings and you know, these are all things that can help people feel more like what they, what that they're in a, in a reading experience rather than, you know, a browsing experience. But it's def it's definitely a challenge. yeah,

Mitch Herrema (35:56):

I feel like one of the most common solutions too is just the browser homepage. So it's like

Matt Dressel (36:01):

There automatically

Mitch Herrema (36:02):

Stumbles on the thing rather than,

Matt Dressel (36:03):

Or team or Viva connections where it's right in the media. Like if they have to use teams, it's right in teams right there on the page. They don't have to feel like they gotta go somewhere else to get it. Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent.

Mitch Herrema (36:12):


Matt Dressel (36:13):

So meet them where they're at. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (36:15):

It's can still be challenging for sure, but yeah, hopefully as we get more and more used to computers and digital age, it'll just grow with us. So, okay. Let's wrap up with a couple actionable things that people can take. Let's say, oh man, I, they say they want an intranet. Well, like as far as tools they could use or just ways to get started, how would you suggest they do that?

Matt Dressel (36:39):

Yeah, so if you're using Office 3, 365, SharePoint is the way to go. There are some add-on tools that talk about making that even more simple more simple to create. I'm not gonna name any aims, but there's a number of 'em out there. There's nothing wrong with using them. It's an additional cost you would need to decide if you really wanna pay that cost.

Mitch Herrema (36:57):

As long as you understand you don't actually need, there's something I've seen some like slimy sales where it's like they're trying to convince you you actually need this thing.

Matt Dressel (37:06):

Yeah. You

Mitch Herrema (37:06):

Have to have it. Yeah. Yeah.

Matt Dressel (37:07):

When you don't have to, you don't, you can, we, we build it all the time on just vanilla SharePoint. Like a absolutely is the no problem whatsoever. If you're not in, in Microsoft space, there are some other tools out there to do it. A lot of 'em are dedicated to justice. They're not built into another tool or another product. And so you'll end up being paying and tied into their ecosystem dedicated for what, whatever that is. and we've had customers who've, you know, in the banking space in particular where that's made a lot of sense for them. You know, we went through and did, did some work with them and when they decided to do it, they chose a financial focused intranet. Yeah. Because it had a lot of features that were already built in for their space, for Right. For their industry.


Yeah. SharePoint is the way, if you're just have Office 365 and you just wanna build an intranet, I would recommend focusing on, like I said, those, those five things, right? Like if you can get content, emails, emails that used to be things that used to be emails or chats or whatever, going to news articles. If you can get policies and procedures posted and people using it there, like that's from a content perspective, those would be my primary focus. Beyond that, if you wanna start leveling up your game, it's really about focusing on engagement and understanding why people aren't using it. So understand what content you have, where it lives, understand where you want to live at the internet, and then understand how to drive people to that. because ultimately moving stuff there doesn't help unless people actually use it and maintain it.


And so from a tooling perspective, you know, build a SharePoint site, create a SharePoint site, start putting some news articles on there, that's all great. The bigger thing is figure out how to turn off your monthly or weekly newsletter or transform it into links to those new articles. Yeah. Right. Figure out how to stop your HR people from sending out the hand the an attachment with a downloaded copy of the handbook and send out links to the handbook, right? Yeah. Like those are, that's the hard work, right? That's the hard work of the intranet is that change of mind.

Mike Bodell (39:11):

Hey, so I'm gonna plug something shameless cuz business apps is kind of my side of the, the house here. The internet can be a great place to post links to internal forms, apps, things that you are, you've automated for your business or something like that as a jumping off point. A place where people can find or access those tools,

Matt Dressel (39:27):

Internal resources. Yeah.

Mitch Herrema (39:28):

Yep, yep. Yeah. And I'll point you two if you're listening the, again, the iterative intranet's episode, we talk a lot about like how to approach the internet and how to phase it and make a lot of sense out of Yeah. Getting somewhere new and then I'll, I'll, I'll follow up with, it's an asset, right? Like it's like you said, you gotta keep up on it, but like you really need to keep up on it. Like it's a car. Like you need to do oil changes, you need to like be maintaining this thing. It's not a one-time purchase. Pretend it's all done situation.

Matt Dressel (40:00):

Yeah. If you don't have either a person on staff or a team of external resources to help you maintain and keep the thing going forward, you probably shouldn't spend the time and effort Right. To do it in the first place. Right. Because it's just gonna be a waste of money. Right. You need some level of commitment to this resource and keep maintaining it and keeping it going. And if you don't have that, it's, you're not gonna get the value out of it, number one. But number two is, in my opinion, you're basically throwing away money, right? Because the reality is yes, it costs money to get it started. Yes, it costs money to maintain it, but you're going to get so much more value out of it in the, in in the medium to long term. Yeah. It's well worth it.

Mitch Herrema (40:46):

Yeah. you're reminding me of recent conversations we've had about these literal situations where people have this asset and they want to keep it going and they want us to help them with it and we're like actually considering developing some kind of service to help that. Yeah. Keep going and it's a different sort of equation for us, but yeah, it's something that needs some upkeep.

Mike Bodell (41:08):

So it's interesting you mentioned it as an asset, as a, as an owner, as somebody who cares about people. I think of like our internet in terms of value it has to me and our mission of making others successful and you know, they say what is life about right? Is it about, some people are like, it's about money, but I really believe it's about experiences and the people that you touch. And there is nothing that I value more than looking at our story as it, it unfolds on our internet as we post news about our events and about our, you know, new team members that we're adding and changes in their lives and all of that kind of stuff. And just having the ability to consume that as it happens and then reflect on it, look back and Yeah. And see where we were and where we've come is to me, one of the most value valuable things is there's somebody that cares about the people that I work with and as a, as a priority.

Mitch Herrema (41:55):

The cool timeline, historical reference kind of thing,

Matt Dressel (41:58):

Right? So that's one of the, that's one of the emotional and cultural benefits and, and, and assets that it is. And then the other end of it is we just hired some new people and I didn't have to spend a bunch of time teaching 'em how to do a bunch of stuff. Right. They're able to go figure it out themselves. Yeah. And honestly, like we're, we're re revisiting it. We're gonna be asking them about what the content that we're producing, see how we can improve it. But I would guess, and I'm 99% positive, it was way more beneficial because when they had a question at dinner, when they're, you know, husband or wife was like, Hey, you know, what about this? Right? Like what about this piece of your thing? Rather than having to try to remember what we said in a meeting or find the the handbook and look for it, they can just look on the internet Internet and search. Right. And be like, oh, there's the answer. Right, right there.

Mitch Herrema (42:49):

Yeah. Yeah. And I feel like you're touching a little bit on the whole like self-service Yeah. Perspective of it all. Where some people might smell, oh you're just trying to make everything digital robot so you don't have to talk to 'em. Yeah, no. Like it has led to having deeper conversations about those things because they have context, they understand a little bit and you can kinda skip the first, we'll call it small talk and you can actually have the impactful conversations

Matt Dressel (43:16):

Literally in the new hiring discussions that we've had. We do, we have the all its resources, but we also schedule meetings like time to do stuff that didn't go away. But those conversations are focused on the, like you said, deeper things. Yeah. Not on, okay, what is all of the, the, the HR stuff or what is like, they have some of that, right? They're asking questions that are really intelligent and you would be like, how did you know that? Cuz I read it on the internet. Right?

Mitch Herrema (43:45):

Yeah. It's been a cool tool and resource and culture thing for us. For sure. Yeah. Cool. Well like I said, I feel like we can talk about this stuff forever, but we'll wrap it up there. Thanks for you guys for your time today, and we'll talk to you again soon.

Mike Bodell (43:59):

Good as always. Cool.

Matt Dressel (44:00):

See you everybody.

Mitch Herrema (44:02):

Hey, thanks for joining us today. If you haven't already subscribed to our show on your favorite podcasting app, so you'll always be up to date on the most recent episodes. This podcast is hosted by the team members of Bulk Digital and special thanks to Eric Veeneman for our music tracks and producing this episode. If you have any questions for us, head to make others successful.com and you can get in touch with us there. You'll also find a lot of blogs and videos and content that will help you modernize your workplace and get the most out of Office 365. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you next time.

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