Knowing where to focus: optimizing your intranet with benchmarking data

April 8, 2016 Updated: November 2, 2022 by


I like to say that creating a truly great intranet is easy: you just need to get hundreds of people within your organization to run a few dozen processes smoothly for maybe three years. Simple!

In reality, we all know it’s a very hard task indeed. If you’re responsible for an intranet your time will be stretched to its limit as you try to keep all the plates spinning. You need to focus your attention on where you can make the right impact.

This is an area I looked at recently in a research report for DWG members, entitled “Evidence-based intranet success”. Can a detailed statistical analysis of benchmarking data help time-pressed intranet managers keep those plates spinning?

In my previous post I explained how DWG benchmarks intranets across four models covering all of these management practices. They are:

  • Strategy & Governance
  • Metrics & Performance
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Usability.

In that post I made it clear that the prince of these areas, according to the data, is Strategy & Governance. The organization that doesn’t have strong foundations here is likely to perform poorly elsewhere.

But if you’re new to DWG membership and considering that all-important first benchmark there are other things you might consider important. I like to think of these as the four Ps:


You know it is hurting. You know it is bad. But you need to show just how bad things are. This is typically the first port of call for new members and why they choose Usability as the area to benchmark. It gives them a clear and demonstrable positioning against their peers from the point of view of the user, as well as specific recommendations to improve matters in the short term.


“Look I told you so.” All intranet people have been there, pointing at the fire as it rages out of control while a committee politely declines your funding request for a fire extinguisher. Benchmarking can work wonders here. Usability is close to the heat, as is Communication & Collaboration, as it relates much more closely to the capabilities that you offer across your intranet.


The intranet means lots of different things to lots of different people. There are choices to be made on limited resources, but senior leadership, internal communications, the brand guys and IT will have very different views on priorities. What should you look at first? Well, clearly the areas that need improving most. DWG’s benchmarks are split into eight areas, each of which is measured against the average for peer organizations. This gives your intranet team and stakeholders the vocabulary and data you need to zoom in on poorly performing areas and take specific action. If you’re in a difficult and political environment I’d recommend focusing on Strategy & Governance or Metrics & Performance. It will help you to organize and find ways to extract explicit value from the intranet.


We all strive to make intranets as good as they can be under the circumstances. DWG members regularly commit to “before and after” comparisons: benchmarking an intranet before a programme of enhancements takes place and reporting (hopefully) the progress achieved by comparing the two data sets. All DWG benchmarks are good for this purpose and we often see dramatic improvements.

One, two, three or four (or more)

Members can carry out up to four benchmarks at one time. This gives an unparalleled view of the landscape, generates a great deal of actionable insight and provides an excellent “snapshot” overview for your team. If you have the opportunity, it’s highly recommended.

Benchmarking in two areas is a common member preference. Unless it’s an absolute priority to address user experience issues with a Usability benchmark, I recommend focusing initially on Strategy & Governance and Communication & Collaboration, followed by Metrics & Performance and Usability.

If you decide to pick off the benchmarks one by one (and considering my preference for getting the management basics straight), I suggest the following order:

  1. Strategy & Governance
  2. Communication & Collaboration
  3. Usability
  4. Metrics & Performance.

Deep insights

Benchmarking provides a powerful insight into an intricate system of highly intertwined practices. Quite often fixing a problem with one moving part will require action elsewhere. This is true across the four benchmarking areas and the 30 constituent areas of practice we both advocate and measure. In “Evidence-based Intranet Success” I’ve drawn the lines between each of these areas of practice and created a series of “recipe cards”. If you want to improve in one particular area, what other changes will you need to make in related areas? What areas will benefit most from your efforts?

The practical output of this research will, I hope, help fellow practitioners in the art of intranet management keep their plates spinning for years to come.



Categorised in: Metrics & measurement, Research reports

Chris Tubb

Consultant and Benchmark Lead

Chris Tubb is an independent digital workplace and intranet consultant with a long-standing relationship with DWG. Working on the management of intranets for over 20 years in IT and Internal Communications teams, Chris was responsible for Intranet Strategy and Architecture at France Telecom/Orange, until becoming a consultant in 2010. Since then he has helped dozens of large organizations take the next steps with their employee experiences. Chris focuses on strategy, governance and measurement, and on creating and implementing benchmarking models such as DWG’s Digital Workplace Maturity Benchmark.

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