Launching an Intranet requires heavy lifting for all parties involved. For most vendors, it will be business as usual when it comes to planning and running the project. For the customer, it can be a steep learning curve in the art of content preparation.
Customer expectation usually gravitates towards the vendor performing all of the work. After all, the customer has engaged the vendor for their expertise and to ensure the Intranet is successfully installed, configured and delivered.
Perhaps the greatest risk to this smooth runway is the customer appreciating their role and responsibility for producing the Intranet content. While the vendor has the ultimate role of implementing the solution and for ensuring the new Intranet is completely functional, the customer is ultimately responsible for deciding what content will be delivered to the users.
For the customer, the art of content preparation can be a steep learning curve.
The following will enable you to create a framework for ensuring your new Intranet speaks with context and relevancy the moment your team members access it for the first time.
How ready is your organization from a content perspective? The first step is to create a content map. This will help you and your team to define what are all the pieces required to ensure the Intranet will be ready for launch. What will be the information architecture for the new Intranet? What naming conventions will you implement that will be familiar for team members to understand and be able to navigate the Intranet? Who will define the metadata taxonomy that will enable authors to tag their content at the time of publishing? Before any content is created from scratch, or scraped from an existing Intranet, you’ll want to define where content will live and how it will be categorized.
Pulling all the pieces together and assembling them into a pre-defined structure is what will keep some of you awake at night. The process of collecting the Intranet content requires teamwork. It’s likely you’ll be communicating with people across the organization as you request content from them that they expect to see within their section of the Intranet. Content will be delivered in dribs and drabs; attached to emails, delivered on USB device or a link to an obscure file server that contains a thousand documents that have no hierarchy. If you’ve ever sat down to complete one of those one thousand piece jigsaw puzzles, then you will be facing a similar task of acquiring all of the pieces for your new Intranet content map.
Perhaps the greatest risk to running a smooth Intranet project is the customer appreciating their role and responsibility for producing content.
Once you’ve confirmed that everyone has sent you his or her content, you’ll then want to undertake a process of content cleansing. Do we need to publish those documents from 2006? Are the embedded links to external resources still valid? Ultimately you’ll want to put this onus on the people you’ve requested the content from, asking them to curate their own content before its published. Content cleansing comes with making tough decisions about accuracy and relevancy. Many organizations view a new Intranet as the opportunity to start fresh, ripping off the band-aid of aging and broken content that has been floating around for years influencing unproductive work. For some of you this will become a mammoth effort, but the quality of your Intranet will be better for it.
Now comes the fun part where you get to see all of your hard work come to fruition. Intranet content authoring can be separated into two camps; web content authoring and document authoring. Most Intranet content is one or the other. Web content authoring will take the most effort as in most cases it’s unstructured. The makeup of the web content, whether it contains embedded media or tabulated data or if it links to other content can be arbitrary from one page to the next. Document content on the other hand can be populated quickly. A modern Intranet platform should provide migration tools to assist with quickly moving large repositories of document content to the new Intranet. Depending on your content sizing, most organizations have a couple of team members involved with the content authoring effort.
Content Acceptance Testing
The end is in sight, and victory is near. The final step in preparing your Intranet for go-live is to perform acceptance testing. Once content authoring has been completed, you’ll want your team to carefully review the new site before it’s released to the entire organization. At the same time the vendor is completing their platform acceptance testing (ensuring pages load, navigation operates as expected, form submissions are sent to the right places, etc.) you will be asking the various departments who provided you with their content to now review the completed pages on the Intranet. Once everyone is happy and accepting of the new site, it’s time to celebrate.