Thinking about an intranet? Ask these 5 questions first

What, who, how, and why…

Ever been sick of all company emails and the ensuing ‘reply-all’ responses? Feel like your workforce isn’t on the same page about the direction of the organisation? Don’t have a single source of truth for content within the company? These are all common issues that can lead you to thinking about an intranet solution.

Imagine a single view of you company, available anywhere from any device. You will be able to ensure everyone in the company has access to all working and published documents, latest news and announcements, videos from the CEO, staff directory and org chart, calendar of events, electronic forms with workflows for approvals. This is just the homepage, then you have all the tools at a department or functional level. While this is easy to achieve from the technical standpoint, for an intranet to be successful you need to ask these 5 questions first.

1. What are you going to build it in

An intranet is going to be a web portal, running in a web browser. So this gives you almost unlimited ways to build it. You could build something from scratch or using a website tool like WordPress. Then you have intranet tools like Unily or GreenOrbit, a software as a service (SaaS) product. Pre-built with a set of features you can turn on as required, and customise to match your brand or similar.

The final option is to leverage some of the tools you already own or are considering, like Microsoft Office 365. O365 comes with SharePoint Online, which is a long time intranet tool of choice for companies of any size. SharePoint will integrate with your existing logins, email, and security management tools. It is also customisable, so you can make it look and function as you want. There is a pretty compelling case to go with SharePoint as there are no extra costs when you have a Office 365 licence.

2. Content management - who is going to own it?

The intranet can become a forgotten piece in your IT landscape. When you are thinking about an intranet, people are automatically going to think the IT team will manage it, which from a technology perspective makes sense. But it is the business process around content and functionality you need to think about.

An intranet is only ever going to be as good as its content and what it delivers to the organisation. It must be owned by someone who sits in the business and can work with the various stakeholders to ensure they are delivering.

The same as any successful website, content is king with an intranet. You want to be producing high quality and reliable content to your employees. Showcasing what is happening from across the organisation will drive positive engagement. This person or team will be responsible for delegating content creation to other employees. They will need to ensure the structure, security, functionality and look and feel continues to meet the needs of the organisation.

Group of people to choose from

3. Who is going to support everyone to ensure they can do their job on their?

You have great content, awesome functionality; you’re off to a great start. You now need to think how you are going to support feature and function requests, and technical issues with the environment. This is either done in-house or via a 3rd party consultancy.

There are pros and cons to each method. In-house can be less expensive depending on whether you are going part time or full time for the role. If you only have one person in the role, you need to plan around leave or unplanned illness. A consultancy will give you redundancy and the ability to lean on a deeper skill set, but at a higher cost. Make sure you take into account the need to support the technical infrastructure, and ongoing feature and functionality development.

4. How are you going to support the intranet's growth?

Going live with your new intranet isn’t the end, it is just the beginning. The most successful intranets are managed as products. They have a defined roadmap of functionality that is being discovered, defined and implemented on an ongoing basis. You will find that the needs of the organisation will continue to evolve as you develop the first version. It will change as the ways of working in the company leverage the intranet.

As you show the workforce what is possible with the intranet, there will be more requests than you know how to handle. If you don’t manage these and deliver on the requests proactively, people will lose interest. Its a fine balancing act of delivering on the needs of the organisation and the needs of the workforce. It comes back to the old saying “What’s in it for me?”

5. Why are people going to use it?

Just build it and they wont come!

That might be little harsh, but providing an intranet doesn’t mean people are going to use it. You need to make sure you take the time to understand the requirements of people across the organisation to build a great user experience. What one department wants isn’t always going to be the same as another. Finance may want reports and dashboards. HR could be asking for Forms and Workflows. Quality Control wants a document management system. And the CEO just wants less email.

This is the most important take away: When you’re thinking about an intranet, make the time to engage with people across the company to listen to what they want from a modern experience intranet. This enables them to be more efficient in their roles and more and connected with others. Your effort will pay off in the long run.

Want to talk intranets? We are happy to chat. Contact us for a no cost discussion on the benefits and pitfalls.