Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Intranet Site Evaluations and Web Analytics with Sharepoint


If you are like many medium sized to large companies, you have a corporate intranet site.  This can be a useful tool or it can be an entire waste of money to your company.  Most likely, your company has got involved with an intranet site because statistics show that employees are better able to communicate and be more productive.  They have an increased ability to access all data and resources efficiently and thus are more productive.  I found an excellent article about this topic at simply-communicate.com.  They offer some valuable suggestions and how to ensure that you are maximizing your efficiencies with this tool.  As I looked into this more, I was interested to see how we were using our intranet site with my employer.  At my work we refer to many documents and procedures which constantly need to be improved and optimized along with the processes and reaction mechanisms associated with each.  I looked into implementing Web Analytics with our departmental site and found that Sharepoint 2010 already offers Web Analytics tools.  For a brief introduction, you can go to Microsoft’s Enterprise Content Management blog.  There are also implementations with Google Analytics, but my focus will be on the simplified “Out of the Box” features that Microsoft provides.  There are some security concerns with implementing Google Analytics, but possible nonetheless.  Feel free to explore these possibilities from this search Google Search (Google Analytics and Sharepoint).

The three main categories of reports for the built in Web Analytics are traffic, search and inventory.  I am most concerned with the first one.  I see the inventory category as more of an overall management function.  When the administrator tells me we are using too much storage for our departmental website and sub sites, then I will concern myself about trying to trim down a bit, but we really aren’t built up too much to be concerned about this.  One item we can quickly learn is when to build a page vs. building a sub-site.  This is where we are losing most efficiency in regards to inventory.  Search is something that is missing from our site also and I think that we could improve our site if we knew what people wanted to find on it.  Anyway, but on to more important matters I will go.  Traffic is the case I will consider in more depth.
As with any website, external or internal, one can learn a lot about where your traffic is coming from and what that means.  For example, with our departmental website it is important that everyone is familiar with all the main communication means provided and be able to stay on top of these on a daily basis.  With that being said, it is important that we are seeing traffic from every person within the department.  If not, why?  Are they looking for resources the old way?  The whole point of an intranet site is to increase efficiencies by producing a sort of “One Stop Shop.”  If a person is not visiting the website, we will be able to inquire as to why they are not using it to look up important documents and procedures or even why they do not look at daily communication which is only to be had from the site itself.  There are some redundant systems in place for communication such as email, but still, some information is only available on the site.  When I pulled the report for number of page views; I found that the highest internal traffic was from engineers.  This is to be expected as many of the technicians use previous methods to pull PM procedures and equipment docs.  I am currently digging into this deeper to see if we can build up our “One Stop Shop.”  The second thing I noticed is that we are getting very little traffic from other people in other departments.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there is more to explore on this.  The site is designed for other areas to visit us and interact with us concerning special requests and or data collections.  If it is designed for this and we’re not seeing the traffic coming from other areas, once again there is a flaw in our design or communication of such processes.  When I inquired as to how we are getting our communication from other areas, every engineer said it comes mostly in the form of face to face communication.  I've never been one to discourage face to face interaction, but this can introduce inefficiencies.  Instead of walking over to someone’s desk half way across the office, why not help people understand the resources available that will automatically assist them with their requests?  Above is a sample report of the number of page views.  I have not included our actual data for privacy reasons, but our curve was much steeper with very few visitors from outside our department to the most being our engineers who sustain equipment and processes 24/7.

Resources:http://www.simply-communicate.com/news/top-tips/internal-communication/how-empower-your-intranet

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ecm/archive/2010/03/21/introducing-web-analytics-in-sharepoint-2010.aspx?CommentPosted=true#commentmessage


http://www.google.com/search?q=google+analytics+with+sharepoint+2010