A few weeks ago, I discussed how construction management and operations groups need to work with the same information to keep project teams moving in the same direction. But how do you connect and disseminate this information to the people in your company?
From my own experience running an organization, I’ve found that there are a few fundamental approaches to internal communication and information sharing. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, and usually some combination of all three is the most effective way to create a connected workplace.
The first approach most companies take is the companywide email, usually in the form of a monthly newsletter. On the positive side, if done well, your staff usually reads these communications. But they are discrete transactions—they pop up in an inbox, provide information, and then are usually deleted or forgotten. By themselves, they can’t house important documents, such as 401K contribution forms, that your employees need to access on a regular basis.
The next step most companies take is a setting up a shared drive location in their network and/or a company intranet (an internal web site only your employees can access). Documents such as forms, templates, and policies can be stored for employee use, and information has a longer lifespan, remaining available as long as it remains relevant. This approach also has its complications. If information isn’t refreshed and relevant, then folks will not visit the site even when they receive an email reminding them that new information is available. And for the person responsible for maintaining the site, soliciting new content from different groups can be akin to pulling teeth…
Information on Demand
A relatively new approach to information sharing is emerging—the company dashboard. This is an application that can be delivered as part of a company’s enterprise management system and that employees access during the course of their work. It can be used to deliver information in near real-time, serving up notices, reminders, company news, links to resources, and even applications. Each user can typically customize their own dashboard to present just the information that’s important to them, and multiple individuals can be given publishing ability to post information.
One drawback can be the fact that not every employee accesses the company’s management software on a regular basis. However, enterprise software vendors (yes, full disclosure—I’m one of them) who want to make their product more valuable to their customers can eliminate this problem by opening up the dashboard feature to everyone, licensed and non-licensed users alike.
What approaches have you used to effectively communicate and share information in your company? Have you seen or used company dashboards as a communication tool?