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Service Framework - HR Intranet

Service Framework - HR Intranet

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Intranet Benefits

Here are some of the key benefits that can be derived by implementing the HR Intranet:

  1. Allowing employee access to personal information such as benefit enrollment
  2. Enabling employees to update their personal data in the database, such as:
    Address information,
    Office phone number and location,
    Training information.
  3. Allowing Managers to view compensation data for salary review purposes or for generating offers to new applicants.
  4. Allowing managers to view leave information on their employees.

With the development of new low-cost technologies, small and mid-sized companies can now experience the administrative benefits of allowing employee access to the data base via the Intranet.

The benefits of the system are only realized if employees use the system. The HR Intranet should be publicized using all the traditional employee communications such as media, bulletin boards, the company newsletter, announcing it at company meetings, etc. Other suggestions include:

  1. When employees ask for a form or any other type of information that happens to be on the Intranet, encourage them to access it themselves via the Intranet.
  2. Send an e-mail message to all employees that briefly describes how they can receive better service through the Intranet. Don't forget to include a hyperlink to the Intranet. This allows employees to click on the hyperlink in the e-mail message and jump to the home page of the HR Intranet (the easier you can make it for employees, the more quickly they will use the HR Intranet).

The traditional communication channels should continue to be available to employees. It will take time for some employees to acclimate to a new way of doing business, and some employees may not have access to the HR Intranet (e.g. they may not have a desktop computer nor have access to a computer at a kiosk or break area).

Why setup an Intranet?

Companies are looking for an open-architecture, cost-effective solution for distributing information throughout their organization. Employees want better information faster. The intranet offers this solution.

As on the Internet the Web browser is the universal interface for the intranet. Never before has a company had the ability to set up a network where all the operations run from one interface that can run on disparate platforms. Now the UNIX user can communicate with the MAC user who can then communicate with the Windows user.

This universal interface will decrease the learning curve of new applications, decreases the need for costly proprietary software upgrades at the desktop and provide a common look and feel to all applications.

An intranet is surprisingly inexpensive to implement. Browsers such as Netscape Navigator and the Microsoft Internet Explorer are almost free. A simple Web server can be set up for a few thousand dollars and someone can even download free server software from the Internet. Many companies can maintain an intranet with only one person. With the advent of many HTML authoring tools the publishing of content for the intranet grows ever easier. The intranet provides a way for employees to gain better access to more time-sensitive information. The intranet can end the paper trail of many office applications. Now that information is published on the intranet instead of printed in a company paper newsletter the employee can make faster more informed decisions. In summary, the benefits on an intranet include:

  1. Easy to set up and administer
  2. Open Architecture
  3. Universal interface
  4. Inexpensive
  5. Connects all operating system platforms
  6. Cost effective
  7. Faster access to information
  8. Better Decision making
  9. Build and share knowledge

Components of Intranet

HR departments have been some of the most enthusiastic developers of intranet applications mainly because of the large amounts of paper-based processes that can be transitioned to the Web.

Examples of possible content and applications

  1. Employee handbook
  2. Interactive benefits information
  3. Employee surveys
  4. Candidate screening applications
  5. Newsletters
  6. Employee personalized home pages
  7. Telephone/E-mail directory
  8. 401 K tracking
  9. Recruiting/job listings
  10. Organizational charts
  11. New employee training

Typical obstacles in implementing an intranet

With every introduction of new technology obstacles must be overcome. There is no exception with the introducing Internet technology to the workplace. We examine them below.

  1. Bandwidth and the excitement surrounding the technology - An intranet can publish text, audio, and video. This has never been capable before across one internal network. Employees can get very excited about the technology and will scream for more and more applications. The administrators of the system must be very careful monitor use of the system to control bandwidth flow.
  2. Employee Fears - Many managers may resist the intranet because it provides information so quickly to the lowest level of employee. Information equals power in most organizations and managers must be convinced that empowering users with knowledge will not endanger their job.
  3. Reward for Collaborative Behavior - Intranets builds cooperation and the sharing of ideas. Many organizations reward competitive behavior among employees. Rewards must be set up for the sharing of information and knowledge across departmental boundaries for the intranet to be successful.

What does it take to build an intranet?

Every intranet contains some basic components. Companies choose to supply some or all of these internally while others go to outside consultants. I have listed the basic components of an intranet below.

Network - A company must generally have TCP/IP as the protocol of the network to run an intranet. The network must have enough bandwidth. An intranet can handle all types of multimedia.

Security - Firewalls must be installed to keep hackers on the Internet from accessing company information. If users are to be allowed access to the intranet from a remote location security rights must be set up through the firewall. Note that the intranet does not have to be hooked up to the Internet

Hardware and Software - The intranet runs off a Web HTTP server. The server can be running various operating systems from UNIX, MAC or Windows NT. The server software that delivers the HTML files to the browsers is offered from many vendors. Some are even giving it away with an operating system such as Microsoft's Internet Information Server. The employee will need a Web browser at the desktop level. Content publishers will want authoring tools and web development tools such as Java and Microsoft Active Server Pages. Users will want search engines such as the Google Search Engine or the AltaVista Search Tool to find information quickly.

Who can use an intranet?

Virtually any department that needs information in a timely fashion can benefit from an intranet. I have listed some examples below.

Human Resources

  1. On-line job postings
  2. Career Development and training
  3. On-line employment directories
  4. Web-based forms for collection of payroll and insurance information

Marketing

  1. Search engines to gather market research
  2. On-line catalogs
  3. Sales tracking and reporting

Corporate Office

  1. On-line newsletters
  2. Links to company resources and tools
  3. Corporate events calendar