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Why do Intranets fail? 10 common challenges and how to combat them.

10 Nov 2021

Intranets fail for many reasons. 10 of the most common are:

  1. Stresses man as intranet failsLack of SMART goals/ targets
  2. Insufficient employee training
  3. Untargeted Messaging
  4. Difficult Navigation
  5. Outdated Documents
  6. Top-Down Only information
  7. Minimal managerial buy-in
  8. Unbranded look and feel
  9. A Disjointed Workplace
  10. Lack of Ongoing Development

Intranets fail for lots of reasons, and there is a common misconception that once an intranet is deployed to your organisation you will immediately begin reaping its benefits.

However, as with any change in the workplace, it takes a plan and commitment from all areas of the business to ensure that your intranet works as it is supposed to.

Although there are countless reasons why intranets fail, recognising the shortcomings in your business is the first step to making the most of your investment and maximising the potential of your digital workplace.

We have compiled a list from our experience of the top 10 reasons that intranets fail. If even one of these resonates with your business, it may be time to alter your approach. We can help maximise your intranet investment so book a call with one of our experts today to start reaping the rewards.

SMART goals to help prevent your intranet failing

Lack of SMART goals/ targets for your intranet

So you decided you needed to revamp your digital workplace. Great! You spent the money, built the interface, but are struggling to see any success.

What did you want it to achieve in the first place?

All too soon, companies realise they need to develop systems to improve their remote working environment, but they don’t pinpoint what it is they’re trying to achieve.

SMART goals pop up in all aspects of business, but as a reminder:


S: Specific

Your precise aim for your new intranet

M: Measurable

The clear definitions of success for that goal, and the KPIs to allow you to monitor your progress

A: Achievable

The process required to reach that goal, what are the individual stages and who do they involve?

R: Relevant

How is this specific goal going to benefit the organisation as a whole?

T: Time-Based –

When would you like this goal to be achieved? When will you be measuring your success? Are there some goals that will take longer to achieve than others?

As with anything, developing a new intranet requires a selection of SMART goals so that you and stakeholders all understand the expectations and requirements of the project.

SMART goals also help your intranet developers tailor their work to best suit your goals, and publishing them aids employee buy-in as your organisation work together to achieve these targets.

Insufficient intranet training for employees

typing on laptop, online training for intranet success


On the topic of employee buy-in, adapting to a new digital workplace is a major task for employees who are dedicated to achieving their own daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Interrupting their workflow can seem like a daunting chore, and lack of buy-in as a result can result in an inactive digital workplace, or worse your intranet could fail completely.

Providing adequate training to your employees and dedicating a specific amount of time to each employee to explore their new interface, is essential for multiple reasons.

  • Employees can see the advantages of shifting their processes.
  • It aligns the organisations expectations and ensures all levels of the business understand any new protocols associated with the adapted interface.
  • The migration process is sped up as teams can begin utilising the new intranet immediately after training.

Essential to the success of a new intranet is an understanding of its features, benefits and systems. Training your employees, and being trained by your provider, are non-negotiable elements of intranet deployment.

Untargeted Messaging

Messaging at work via intranet on laptop, targeted messaging via intranet

A common goal of businesses seeking an updated intranet is improved communication. With the rise of hybrid working post-pandemic, the ability to communicate across time zones, throughout the country, and in a way that maximises collaboration, has become as essential target for organisations.

Being bombarded with countless company wide message broadcasts is not met positively by the workforce, with the average employee receiving over 120 emails a day,

The integration of a company news board allows employees to access these essential updates without receiving an unmanageable number of daily notifications.

Additionally, a process for targeted messaging to individuals, teams, and the broader company (to be used sparingly), ensures messages reach the right people, at the right time.

If you are missing messages, losing conversation chains and struggling to know how to get in contact with employees, it is time to update your intranet.

Difficulty Navigating

man holding transparent internet search bar, intranet navigation


Your intranet should be the source of all applications, communication platforms and documents within your business.

As such, there should be a directory and search bar to allow you to easily access all resources within your business.

If you find that you or your employees waste time searching for documents, consider whether your intranet needs a more sophisticated document management system.



Outdated Documents

old filing cabinet of outdated documents to be avoided with successful intranets



It is also essential to consider how employees will access these documents.

If collaboration is an essential element of document management, then needing to download documents to contribute will lead to employees losing track of the latest version and run the risk of repeating work unnecessarily.

Your intranet should reduce time and increase collaboration. If this isn’t the case, developing a strong document management system should be top priority.


The Intranet contains only Top-Down information

It has become clear that collaboration is an essential goal for remote working environments. For this to be successful, people from all levels of the organisation should have the opportunity and feel able to share their input, suggestions, and updates to the wider organisation.

Employees feel unheard and disengaged if the majority of the content is contributed by the CEO and other top-level employees.

The key to any digital workplace is collaboration on all levels. Employees need to feel encouraged to make use of the platform, not simply take information from it.

Managers working together on intranet solution

Minimal Managerial Buy-in

On the complete other end of the scale, lack of managerial buy-in is one of the key reasons intranets fail.

Lack of active use by management makes it harder for employees to settle into their new workflows.

Additionally, employees who aren’t as invested in the new digital workplace will be even harder to convert if their superiors do not demonstrate a proactive and keen approach to your organisation’s digital development.

If you’re struggling to explain why an intranet is integral to your business, show your manager these 8 reasons your HR department needs an intranet. 


Unbranded look and feel

Man considering what his brand is, the importance of branding to prevent intranets failing

Brand managers everywhere know that a coherent brand is far more than a consistent colour scheme.

They also know that brand advocacy starts inside the business. Employees are far more likely to be advocates of their organisation when they are tied into their company’s mission. 

Failing to represent your brand internally is one of the main contributing factors to a failed intranet. Customisable elements may start with picking suitable colours, but can ensure all internal and external communications are in keeping with company principals, expectations and aspirations.



A Disjointed Workplace

People working on laptops around a desk, unified workplace for successful intranet

At the heart of a successful organisation is collaboration.

However, it takes far more than a centralised digital system to ensure unity and optimal team working.

Coming together regularly as a team, and as a broader organisation, are key to ensuring unity in your workplace.

Valuing and listening to individual employees will improve company atmosphere and result in a more engaged workforce. This engagement is key to making the most of your intranet’s capabilities.

One of the most important considerations when implementing a new intranet is how it will work for your employees.

Include them in the decision making and you are far more likely to see a boost in user adoption.


Lack of Ongoing Intranet Development

Intranet development Roadmap on post it notes being discussed by team

With the ever-changing digital world, and the fast paced workplace environment, an intranet cannot be a one-off project.

Your digital workplace needs to keep up with the ever-developing world and the changes within your organisation.

The organisation supplying your intranet should be constantly developing their product and offering you the latest improvements and updates.

From bug fixes, to new web parts, to reimagined workspaces, a good intranet provider should be constantly developing their software. 

We have recently launched our Modern Mercury to make the most of Microsoft’s ongoing investment, read about Modern Mercury Intranet here.

So how do I prevent my intranet failing?

A successful intranet can be the difference between a productive workforce, and therefore a profitable business, and a disorganised mess.

If you’re noticing poor performance in your company, start by breaking down the elements of your digital workplace. 

Identifying issues is the first and most important step to business success.

If you need support on how to improve your digital workplace, speak to one of our experts here.

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