When I begin a new intranet project I am of course immediately interested in any metrics that have been recorded and reported on the performance of the intranet. In the majority of engagements I find that the lack of resources in the intranet team has meant that any metrics assessment is very limited indeed. This makes it difficult to know where to start in giving advice and the result is that a programme of user research has to be undertaken to give a credible baseline against which recommendations can be made. This takes time and increases the cost of the engagement.
My new Research Note on intranet metrics provides an overview of the ways in which the performance of an intranet can be assessed and can be downloaded from the Research Notes section of this web site. It is based on Chapter 15 of my Intranet Management Handbook, published in 2011. The 26 page report covers technical performance, discovery performance, user satisfaction and business impact, and describes both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It also highlights the difference between summative and formative assessments. In addition to techniques that can be used directly by an intranet manager I have also summarised the methodologies used by five external intranet benchmarking services.
Quite a substantial amount of work has been undertaken over the last few years on assessing the performance of enterprise applications, taking into account the provisions of ISO 9241. The book by James Lewis and Jeff Sauro entitled Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research, published in 2012, should be essential reading for intranet managers. Both the Nielsen Norman Group and Rosenfeld Media publish a range of reports and books on user experience assessment.
Inevitably there is a fine line between the user research required in the process of developing a new intranet (or a substantial re-design of an existing intranet) and the research required to optimise the operational performance of an intranet. Many of the techniques described in this report have a value in both situations. Feedback on any of the topics in the Research Note would be appreciated.