Have you ever heard co-workers say things like: “I didnt get a copy of that” or “No one told me that”? Do you send internal information to your staff via paper or e-mail, asking everyone to organize the same information at each desk?
An intranet is a mechanism for distributing information within your company quickly, efficiently and at a low cost. Think of it as an internal Web site, displaying pages of agency-specific information through the same Web browser software (such as Internet Explorer) that you use to access information on the Internet.
An intranet allows you to gather all of the critical information you may now be keeping in manuals, on bulletin boards, in desk drawers, in managers filing cabinets or hard drives, and in that certain persons head–all organized into an easy-to-navigate structure. Here are just a few ideas of what can be included in your intranet:
Procedure manuals and departmental workflows.
Agency handbook and employee benefits.
Marketing campaigns, details on new packages and programs offered by your carriers.
Contact directories for your carriers and vendors including their e-mail and Web addresses.
Rating and commission schedules.
Internal forms such as vacation requests, time sheets, supply requisitions, etc.
Links to relevant Web sites such as carriers, trade magazines, and rating services.
Anything else that you would normally distribute to your staff on paper.
The first time I heard of the term intranet was in some writings from a famous computer entrepreneur. He noticed all of the internal forms that his company was maintaining on paper. He sent a memo out to all his employees, asking them to provide him with a copy of each internal form they used. He received close to 2,000 forms back.
He immediately had people create an intranet structure that contained each of these forms, allowing the employees to fill them out on their computers and e-mail to the correct person. After seeing the benefits of this, they started putting all of the other internal information into the intranet.
There are many benefits to publishing this information over a corporate intranet instead of on paper.
One obvious benefit is reduction in distribution costs. What does it cost to copy and distribute new internal information? (Labor, paper, ink and, of course, postage when you have multiple offices). How often does this have to be done? It has been estimated that 18% of corporate material becomes outdated within 30 days (i.e., internal phone lists, procedures, marketing materials, company notices, interoffice memos, etc.).
Costs decrease to virtually nothing when the information is posted on an intranet, and savings increase each time the information is updated.
Another benefit is reduction in information access costs. All of your relevant information is readily available on everyones desktop. Conservatively speaking, if every employee saves 15 minutes a day locating an important procedure or company notice, it can quickly add up to more than 1 hours a week, 5 hours per month, and even 60 hours a year. Wouldnt this time be used more effectively in servicing customers and rounding out accounts?