Agency Intranet Technology Summary
“Intranets are everywhere. In a recent Forrester Research Inc. survey of executives at 50 Fortune 1000 companies, 96 percent of those polled were either building or already using internal Web sites. Only 4 percent had no plans to invest in intranet technology. Other surveys indicate that 65 percent to 90 percent of America’s biggest corporations expect to implement intranets by the end of this year.” http://www.cio.com/archive/webbusiness/100197_power.html
When I first began this project, I had no idea how to make the Intranet work for us, or actually what the Intranet was, this gave me a lot to learn is a very short period of time. The Intranet page is one that began very small and grew rapidly; most of the employees gave suggestions as to what they wanted to see housed on their Intranet. We use this as a Newspaper of types if you want to print it off to read later at your leisure you can do so. I received most of the information about Intranets through the website http://www.dhark.com/intranet.html which gave me good design issues and how to solve the problems that I would be facing.
The site gave some powerful presentations to view and save to review repeatedly, this assisted me in showing Upper Management what they were missing in not using the Intranet. I found that the Internet was a powerful tool for researching a subject and in relation to the Intranet; it gave me well over two hundred eighty sites to view and learn from. This is sometimes good and sometimes bad due to the massive amounts of information to sift through.
One of the first things that I learned about an Intranet is the network, I did not understand the basics of that until I had a technician draw out what a basic network looked like then I understood. We actually house three networks here, one is under a NOVEL platform, one is under a LINUX platform and the last is under a Windows 2000 platform. Each has its’ own unique standards and programs, which are run from each machine.
I was taught by a technician how to troubleshoot each system and what person had access to which network. The next step was to “scope” my intranet and I found that it is not possible to conduct a meaningful analysis without a clear indication of what you want your Intranet to achieve. There are many ways of categorizing what an intranet does. This is what I decided our Intranet needed to do.
- Information: using the intranet to deliver news and other information in the form of directories and web documents.
- E-mail: implementing an e-mail system that integrates with the Intranet.
- Document management: using the Intranet to allow users to view, print and work collaboratively on office documents (word-processed documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.).
- Training: using the Intranet to deliver training at the desktop.
- Workflow: using the Intranet to automate administrative processes.
- Databases and other bespoke systems: using the Intranet as a front-end to organization-specific systems, such as corporate databases.
- Discussion: using the Intranet as a means for users to discuss and debate issues.
Then I needed to calculate intranet cost-benefits; first, I to determine what the agency wanted its intranet to be able to do in its initial implementation. The second was to analyze what it will cost the agency to make this happen – both up-front and in ongoing maintenance. The third was to anticipate the cost savings and the productivity benefits that will arise. Lastly, calculate the return on investment and how long this will take to materialize. I found that there was no sure calculation that everyone uses; this calculation has many different facets, and all depending on what you want your intranet to be.
Our Intranet here at my agency is not what most people consider large, but for someone that has never dealt with networks, this seems to be huge. We house thirty-five computers, which are networked for a common drive then each person has an individual drive to save their documents, files and folders to. In doing this, it saves hard drive space for the computers and if a computer crashes it allows the user to access their personal files without losing any information.
I actually utilize six different drives; one drive is for my documents, files, and folders. The second drive is to access for the Human Resource Department, the third drive is a shared drive with the Corporate Secretary, the fourth drive is for the Intranet web page, the fifth is for the World Wide Web page, and the last is the shared drive with everyone within the agency.
The Intranet page is what I work on the most, I do daily updates for the main page to keep the reader interested and aware of what is happening within the agency. On our Intranet page, we house a link to Google, local weather and for Yahoo. Links within the Intranet are maintained on our server and considered an in-house service. I created links for individual pages, such as Head Start News page, Agency News, County News, Policies and Procedures, Calendar events, Training Schedules, Agency Forms, approved software and links to other West Virginia Community Action Agencies.
I learned the concepts of marketing an intranet. Which included points of the most important element of the plan is defining one’s goals. I utilize the company’s existing communication tools since they can provide excellent opportunities to promote intranet. Training employees on how to use the Intranet is another way to market it because it encourages user involvement. I advertise special events, short tips, hints, and tricks. Intranet education never ends. Once the IT department has sold its vision, they must continually train users, either in face-to-face seminars, with real-time hotline support or through online options such as FAQ (frequently asked questions) documents, help guides, tutorials, and seminars.
I had not realized what an Intranet was and this has been a real hands-on learning experience. Between learning the hardware, software, configurations and building the Intranet pages my hands are full. Then I also learned about what goes into an Intranet, not only the thought process but also the equipment and manpower it takes to maintain this system. To top it off, it gave me enough curiosity to go back to school to learn even more.
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