You might be planning your very first Intranet, or this could be the second, third or even fourth time your organization is looking to launch a revised Intranet. Planning the new Intranet is fundamental in order to ensure it meets user expectation and delivers on organizational goals. The following is a good basis for planning a sustainable and engaging Intranet.
The people running the operation need to understand that a good Intranet is like a healthy immune system. Without an effective immune system, an infection within the body can rapidly spread and cause serious issues. The same goes for information management and distribution within the enterprise.
Making the Business Case
A business case argues the value of an Intranet. What benefits will it provide to the organization? How will it improve the way staff communicate and get actual work done? What is the big picture value proposition that comes with a mature and well developed Intranet, e.g. once ROI is achieved, what can be achieved through better collaboration and communication?
Assembling the Team
Who is going to drive the project, consult with the various business units regarding content and ultimately encourage and support user engagement? While a project sponsor is required to run the project, an Intranet manager is required to manage the Intranet on an ongoing basis. Content Administrators and Authors round out the foundation team required to establish and launch the Intranet. These people are represented from all business units and form the Intranet launch team.
Intranet fundamentals look to increase efficiency for staff and boost productivity (through introducing interfaces like Search and Tagging). When it comes to serving customers, an Intranet provides a self-service method to assist with customer service. Defining the goals for the new Intranet will be based around efficiency gains, improving internal and external communications and reducing duplication of effort.
Features and functions will vary depending on the platform you’re implementing. Many of you will probably be implementing SharePoint, and will quickly learn what’s included and what requires additional work by the vendor. Functionality that makes the most sense is based on what creates greater user engagement and satisfaction. These typically include:
- Integrated Document Management
- Basic & Advanced Search
- Staff Directory & interactive Organizational Chart
- Event Management
- Form Creation & Management
- Workflow Management
- Blogging & Discussion Forums
- Social (People Profiles & Pics, Birthdays, Follow people)
Intranet User Experience
Perhaps the most underrated element of any modern Intranet is the user experience it provides for staff. This is both in the intuitive nature of how content has been assembled, the ease of use when it comes to navigation and the clear and concise way in which content is presented and communicated. A well-designed Intranet should remain as an effective place for staff to get things done and ensure a high quality experience in regards to accurate, timely and valuable content.
Staff wont embrace the new Intranet if they don't know how to use it. Training is one of the most important steps in planning a new Intranet. The Intranet should be viewed as a trusted source of truth within the organization. This is a two-way commitment. The first is the quality and currency of the information within the Intranet, and the ease of use in discovering this content. The second is the comfort level of users to traverse the new Intranet. Training is paramount.
The big day has arrived and the Intranet Team is excited (and perhaps relieved) to finally share their hard work with the rest of the organization. The final step for the Intranet Team is to develop a clear Intranet communication plan. How will the Intranet be promoted to staff? What is the branding of the new Intranet, and how will it be promoted across the enterprise? Considering a soft launch of the Intranet will a controlled group of users is also worth considering in order to fine-tune the Intranet before organizational wide roll out.