DEVELOPING AN INTRANET FOR STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATION
Many organizations are looking at the benefits of using an intranet to improve communication and efficiency. They are drawn to the idea of intranets for several reasons. In the first place, it seems to be the next big trend. Secondly, for some organizations it can provide a competitive edge. Thirdly, information can be distributed and updated in a more timely manner than paper-based solutions. Lastly, it as an economical, universal way of providing information to users on different platforms, e.g., PC, UNIX, MacIntosh. So, if these are all true, how can an intranet be an effective tool for staff development and communication?
This paper provides information to help individuals discover the potential for intranets as a tool for staff development and communication. It will present a framework for staff development issues, describe intranet tools, list common applications of intranet tools for staff development and communication, and provide a general process for designing and developing an intranet.
STAFF DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
An intranet can be an effective tool to address staff development issues. These issues arise from organizational and job performance variables. One way to identify these performance variables is The Performance Equation (The Performance Consulting Group, Inc. 1996). The Performance Equation outlines seven variables that impact how well staff members perform their job responsibilities. These variables are: Proficiency, Expectations, Resources, Feedback, Optimization, Rewards, and Measurement.
Proficiency or expertise refers to the knowledge, skills, and capacity (both physical and mental) that performers need to complete a job or task successfully.=20 Expectations are the performance standards indicating how well a person should perform his/her job responsibilities. Resources may include dedicated time, equipment, tools, additional people resources, and information needed to perform the job successfully. Feedback is the variable that focuses on what is communicated about performance and how it is communicated to the performer. Optimization refers how well the processes, methods and techniques used to accomplish a job support its successful completion. Another variable for effective job performance is an appropriate reward/incentive system. And finally, measurement refers to the system used to measure and evaluate job performance.
An intranet does not change the structure of an effective performance system, but it does provide additional tools to greatly enhance how the performance system is implemented, used and maintained through the use of technology. The success of the intranet is effected by the quality the of performance system; the reverse can also be true.
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INTRANET TOOL APPLICATIONS FOR STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATION
INTRANET DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
The design and development process for an intranet consists of several phases. One framework, The 4-D Process (( 1996 The Performance Consulting Group, Inc.), divides intranet development into four phases - Diagnosis, Design, Development, and Delivery. =20
During the Diagnosis phase, a needs assessment is conducted. The needs assessment looks at organizational, departmental, job performance and system requirements for the intranet. The needs assessment should address issues related to:
If a decision is made to proceed, an intranet architecture should be developed. This occurs in the Design phase. An intranet architecture refers to the hardware and software configurations, web page and navigation designs, and a deployment plan. In essence, an organization is saying what it plans to do, how the intranet will function and look, and how and when it will be accomplished.
Another aspect of intranet design is deciding how information about the intranet will be communicated. Often organizations focus primarily on the technology aspect of intranet development; however, communication with staff is important to promote the intranet, assuage fears and get feedback throughout the process. In addition, an evaluation plan is developed which lays out how the effectiveness of the intranet will be monitored and improved. The Design phase steps include:
The Development phase focuses on completing a fully functional intranet. Common tasks are:
Finally, the intranet is deployed in the Delivery phase. Four major activities occur during this phase - implementation, evaluation, update and maintenance of the intranet. In most cases, these activities occur somewhat concurrently and are iterative in nature.
Intranets are useful tools for supporting staff development and communication. While there are many intranet and internet tools available, the application of each depends on the requirements defined by the organization and end users. To develop an effective intranet, it requires completing full assessment, design and development phases.
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