The following provides a format for running your Intranet Workshop. It covers the key items that you should work through with your chosen vendor, specifically:
- Project phases
- Understanding Dependencies
- Defining Project Deliverables
- Content Discussion
- Technical Discussion
- Long-term Roadmap
A successful Intranet project can be measured using carefully considered steps. What needs to be achieved for Phase 1? What can wait for Phase 2, and is there a need for Phase 3? Following are high-level phases that enable you to dissect your needs into manageable deliverables.
Phase 1 - Delivering essential needs
The focus of the Phase 1 Intranet development should always focus on delivering the essential business and stakeholder needs.
Defining Phase 1
The key for a successful Phase 1 is determining and clearly understanding your key needs. The Intranet workshop should take your team through the following key questions.
What are our essential team needs?
Your team is the most important component in having a successful and meaningful Intranet solution. The “build it and they will come“ attitude simply doesn’t hold true in the world of internal business systems. Without the buy in of staff your Intranet will soon become an expensive ghost town. As such determining the type of content that will engage them to utilize the tool should always be of the highest priority. There are numerous benefits in implementing a multi-phased Intranet development plan that meets essential needs in Phase 1, and then expands out to provide deeper, more bespoke experiences in later phases.
Focus on essential needs
It ensures the development of the Intranet is purely focused on what is essential and subsequently will provide the most value.
The launch of an Intranet for the first time, or the deployment of a new Intranet replacing an existing system, can result in considerable change for any organization. Engagement of staff subsequently becomes essential in ensuring the use and success of the new system. Accordingly, the more focused the phase 1 Intranet is can have advantages in engaging and on-boarding staff in utilizing the solution.
Reflection after living with the solution
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so nothing beats having time to live with a solution and reflect on aspects such as:
- What is working well?
- What isn’t working as well as expected?
- What has stakeholder feedback been?
Invariably all organizations modify their initial plans for future Intranet development phases after working with the solution for a period of time and truly understanding:
- How their team utilize the Intranet
- What content and functionality enhancements are required?
- How the solution can benefit the organization even further?
What are our essential content access needs?
Understanding the type of content and access requirements is imperative for a well structured, meaningful and context relevant Intranet. The workshop should explore:
- What content should different team roles have access to?
- Who has rights to edit and create content?
What security roles do we need?
What are the different security roles that we need to effectively administer the Intranet? Aligned to this is determining the rights associated to each role; view, edit and create.
What timeframe do we need to meet?
Meeting a required Intranet launch timeframe will always play an integral role in defining what can be delivered for Phase 1. Understanding this constraint will assist in defining the essential components that are possible.
What are our internal resources to manage the Intranet?
What internal resources does the organization have to effectively manage the Intranet? Does it need to plan to bring on additional resources to manage the essential requirements? If resourcing is an issue, how can we plan and deploy the Phase 1 Intranet to work best for us and minimize resource time yet still deliver a powerful outcome?
What is our Phase 1 budget?
Arguably the most important question that needs to be answered. Budget will influence all other criteria, and subsequently should be known in advance of the workshop taking place.
Being able to make your software vendor aware of the available budget will allow them to define a solution to best meet your needs, long term goals and timeframes.
Phase 2 - Custom Enhancements
Following the Phase 1 deployment of the new Intranet, the second phase of the Intranet development program typically involves custom enhancements to further extend the solution and provide deeper value. The common scope of enhancements usually entail components such as:
- Enhancements to existing functionality to better suit the unique needs of your organization.
- Implementation of new functionality based on either elements that weren’t possible within Phase 1, or have been defined through you using the Intranet.
- Integration with 3rd party systems that you utilize within your organization. Such integrations allow data to be both pushed to and pulled from the Intranet to provide access to information to streamline business processes and decision making.
* Note: It is imperative you select a vendor/agency that has control over the software development path of the platform they provide, otherwise it may be either very costly, or even impossible for them to be able to provide customized enhancements to your Intranet.
Future Intranet development phases should be based on continuous analysis of Intranet performance, stakeholder and business needs, with the Intranet evolving to constantly act as the platform for stakeholder collaboration, information access, human resource service and document/ asset management.
In Part 4 we'll focus on understanding dependencies for your Intranet project.