Designing an Intranet? You May Need Business Process Support First

Take a fresh look at workflow before starting that intranet project. 2Plus2 explains how business process analysis enhances UX across the board.

By Cathy Dew

Sometimes busy business process owners have trouble seeing the forest for the trees.

Take your upcoming intranet design project. It’s likely your HR and IT department heads are all fired up about how great it will be having a new employee intranet.

You agree a new or improved employee intranet is probably a good idea but you have this nagging feeling that if you start the intranet design process you might actually be opening up a giant can of business process worms. You know some things are a bit broken…but who’s got time to fix them?

The good news is, with the right support by your side… you do!

How Do You Know if You Need Business Process Support?

Should you even worry about addressing business process issues before get started on an intranet project?

Since an intranet reflects your business organization’s structure, processes, and workflows, unless you are the rare exception to the rule, the answer is going to be yes.

Designing an intranet without keeping an eye on business process improvements is like trying to bake a cake without keeping an eye on the altitude of the kitchen. Anyone who has tried to bake a cake at 7,000 feet using a sea level recipe knows exactly what I’m talking about! You end up with a fallen mess that nobody wants to eat.

The same will happen if you attempt to build a new business process-dependent system — like an employee intranet — using workflows that haven’t been elevated to the level your company needs to perform at peak capacity. Like the cake that was baked using a recipe for a lower elevation, you’ll end up with something that nobody wants to use.

I can’t count the number of times over the past 20-plus years that 2Plus2 Partners has been called upon to design intranets for organizations only to encounter all kinds of business process flaws that had to be addressed before the intranet project could even get started.

Thankfully, because we are full-service business process consultants as well as intranet and website designers, we are up to the task. But not every intranet design consultant is experienced in business process analysis, and not every company has the time, resources or, frankly, perspective to look at and solve their business process issues on their own.

What Does a Business Process Consultant Do?

In a clinical/academic/literal sense, the primary function of a business process consultant is to help your business by analyzing and documenting current processes and systems and then making recommendations for improvement to increase efficiencies.

In the real world, a business process consultant wears a lot of hats. Not only does she need to be an expert in all of the above, but she should also be able to execute on the development of process improvements that will, ultimately, be reflected in every aspect of your operations, including your internal communications (read: your intranet) and your external communications (read: your website, apps, etc.).

Here are the core competencies of an expert business process consultant:

  • She should be able to dig deep into your organization by asking all the right questions – everything about the what, where, why, who and how of your business operations – and walk away understanding each step of each job function.
  • She should be able to draw on her experience is business systems to apply tried and true methodologies to eliminate business constraints that frustrate employees and to offer improvements to augment employee experience while increasing efficiencies.
  • She should have the business and systems acumen to automate processes, where possible, and enhance existing systems to work smarter for users.
  • She should have a forward-thinking orientation, offering pathways for continuous process improvements over the long term.

Do You Really Need an Outside Consultant?

Of course, not every business is going to need help from the outside.

You can tap internal staff to evaluate workflows. After all, nobody knows your company like your people, right? While internal staff will have to overcome bias — a largely unavoidable, but not surmountable hurdle — it’s not impossible that a DIY approach can identify areas in need of improvement as well as anybody from the outside.

Advantages of the Outside Perspective

There are, of course, some real advantages to using an outside business process consultant. For instance:

You will be evaluated by a fresh pair of eyes. 

A consultant brings a high degree of objectivity and isn’t afraid to introduce a different point of view. Employees are sometimes too close to the problems to be able to see them clearly. And even if they do, there could be some reticence to report the full extent of any issues they encounter. Consultants don’t have the same concerns about how their recommendations might play to others in the organization. They are looking out for the best interests of the company as a whole, and that is all.

You won’t have to redistribute internal resources.

Taking a deep dive into business process evaluation takes time. Your internal staff members have full plates and primary functions of their own to fulfill. Interrupting your process flow to evaluate your process flow could end up creating more problems than you are solving.

You’ll be working with someone who has the background you need.

Unless you’ve got a staff of experienced and skilled business process evaluation and execution experts already on board, a qualified outside consultant is going to bring insights and skills to the table that you simply don’t have in-house. You get the benefit of a qualified business process consultant’s strong business background and acumen who is also laser-focused on results.

Why 2Plus2 is a Great Choice for Business Process Analysis and Improvement

At 2Plus 2, we offer our clients three strategic interrelated UX-centric service lines – information design, business analysis, and web application development.

We are accomplished strategists with backgrounds in Information Architecture, UX Design, UI Design, Graphic Design, and intranet and extranet development, as well as business process analysis and support.

To learn more about how 2Plus2 can help elevate your business processes, reach out to us online or call us today at 510-652-7700. Initial consultations are always free.

Cathy Dew
Cathy Dew – CEO + Information Architect
Cathy focuses the company on our mission – Real results. Every time. Information architect and strategist, Cathy is passionate about making software work well – the function, the feel, the result.