Public Services > Central Government

Public sector intranets not fit for purpose, survey argues

David Bicknell Published 31 August 2017

Half of public sector respondents polled rated their intranet at 4 out of 10 or lower; poor rating is matched by equally poor search function and lack of IT buy-in


A new survey has found that staff intranets in the public sector are the poor relations of public-facing websites.

The poor relations tag for intranets is matched by poor search functions, out of date software and a lack of buy-in from IT staff.

The survey, from public sector digital services provider dxw, conducted at the recent CommsCamp event in Birmingham, found that more than half of the 90 respondents rated the performance of their intranet at 4 out of 10 or lower and highlighted problems ranging from a poor search function and out of date software to a lack of buy-in from their IT department.

The survey argues that the public sector is struggling to implement effective digital communications for its own use, despite publically promoting ‘channel shift’ and encouraging customers to go online for everything from tax submissions to parking permits.

Respondents were clear on the organisational processes currently provided via paper or email that could and should be digitised, including HR, finance, admin and IT as well as document sharing and internal communications. For some public sector organisations their intranet is actually creating more work, not less: one  organisation writes a weekly email newsletter rounding up all the news it has put onto its intranet, while another uses online forms that have to be printed, signed and then scanned back into the system!

Organisations are now turning to alternatives such as Yammer and Facebook Workbook for internal communications, with the intranet reserved for tasked-based activities – referred to by some respondents as a filing cabinet or ‘dump’ for organisational content. Respondents believed that limited budgets are making the problem worse.

Harry Metcalfe, managing director of dxw, said, “With budgets continually being squeezed, providing good digital tools for public servants is vital. Without them, the public sector will struggle to deliver the services we all need. It’s possible to do more with less, but only by changing the way we get things done.

“A good intranet should make it easier for people to get things done, but at the moment they’re mostly ignored and unloved,” Metcalfe added.  “That is, until someone makes the case for change, and then everyone clamours for their particular feature or spot on the homepage. Too often, they try to be everything for everyone, and end up doing nothing at all.

“Most organisations would do better to step back, work out what they really need their intranet for and use simple, up-to-date software to create something that everyone buys into and that makes their work easier.”

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.