Your new Intranet will be a place that increases staff productivity and efficiency - if you get it right, that is. IT projects are notorious for running overtime, over budget, and not delivering as much value to the organization as anticipated. If you are wanting to build a new Intranet, how can you ensure that you get it right and don’t end up with a half-baked attempt?
With careful planning you can help eliminate much of the risk involved in building a new Intranet (or any other new IT project) within your organization. Below we step through how you can create an Intranet project plan that’s poised for success from the very beginning.
For a thorough run down of all activities involved, download our free white paper, Creating Your Intranet Checklist.
Identify all stakeholders and get buy-in
Who are the stakeholders with an interest in the new Intranet? There needs to be a business case that supports your decision to create a new Intranet - and gaining their buy-in helps secure project success early on.
You may be interested to discover that the stakeholders within your organization are not just the end-users. Before you create an Intranet project plan you’ll need to get the support of all stakeholders: a modern Intranet is an investment that needs justification.
So, why do you need a new Intranet?
It’s likely you have an older style Intranet that is fairly static and not engaging - or perhaps you don’t yet have an Intranet at all.
C-suite, the board, or your investors may still have this aging style of Intranet in their mind and thus wonder why you would need one to begin with. It's your job to highlight that a modern Intranet has more in common with a social networking platform than the Intranets of yesteryear.
Modern Intranets typically include document management, news creation, work spaces, team directories, forms, personalization and an intelligent search.
It’s a work platform rather than just an information driven site and can be accessed using any device.
Define your goals
The main goal of a new Intranet will always be to enhance productivity and provide efficiency. But beyond this, there are some other overarching goals that all organizations should keep in mind.
Create a common work experience across different geographical regions or sites
Deliver more effective and collaborative internal communications
Organize your internal information to have everything easily available
Digitizes workflow processes such as HR form management
Empower your team by providing a native app experience, so that the Intranet is a natural extension of the apps they already use for work
More specifically, measurable goals include items like reducing email traffic and increasing cross-departmental collaboration.
There are people within your organization that will be the main drivers of your new Intranet and who will have specific goals they want to achieve. These people include Internal Communications, HR, Operations and IT staff. You may like to workshop each team’s goals individually, then use a cross-disciplinary approach to see if you uncover any missing pieces.
This may include specific functions like an onboarding process, an enterprise social strategy, an internal calendar of events, mobile notifications for specific announcements, etc.
Ask for input from all levels of staffing who will be using the Intranet. It isn’t just the departments who will have the most input and use of the platform; it’s all users. This includes both technical and non-technical users, management and non-management, casual and full-time staff.
A productive activity in defining the goals for your Intranet is to take a look at what other companies are doing - so you can see what’s possible. Ensure you do this after defining your own goals. This way you aren’t limited in imagining what’s possible. People have a tendency to regurgitate and/or copy the information they have learned if they research first.
Build a rough sitemap
Once you have gathered all your information, you’ll be able to start filling in a rough sitemap of your Intranet.
Determining permissions for who will have read and write access is also a clever idea at this time. If you already have identity management in place you will likely be able to transfer user groups straight across.
Choose your Intranet Software
There are many ways to go about picking Intranet software to use. With your goals defined, you’ll be better guided into learning which solution is a good fit.
The Intranet software you choose should be:
Able to work with your current identity management system
Template-rich; for fast setup and reducing the timeframe for rolling out to users
Metadata tags; for more effective search and organizing content
Easy to work with; designed for use by business users, rather than only IT staff
Integrate; be able to connect with your existing applications, in order to enhance productivity
Extensible; with the option to build out extra functionality in the future
It is also recommended that you consult with your Intranet solution provider to see what they believe is the best configuration for your business. After all, these are the people who are use to seeing many different Intranet implementations - your internal experience is likely to be limited.
What is your budget going to be? Out-of-the-box software costs significantly less than a custom (or even customized) solution. Vendors have different pricing structures, either a one-off fee or, more commonly, via a subscription-based model paid each month, or each year. You’ll also need to take into account the cost of hosting if you are considering using cloud-based hosting such AWS or Azure.
You may find that you’ll need extra features that aren’t supported by an out-of-the-box solution - or that you can cut features and simply use integrations with other software products instead.
Create your roadmap
A pilot program
As with most IT rollouts, it’s best to start off with a small project to begin with. Choosing your pilot team is a critical exercise to ensuring the success of your eventual full-scale Intranet.
For the pilot, you’ll need to set a small, well-bounded set of functionality for your Intranet Phase One. Pick a time frame in which to do the launch, the team (around 10-20 people), define what success and feedback mechanisms will look like, and design the training / on-boarding accordingly.
Guidance for Proof of Concept Pilot from the National Archives, while focusing on ERM software, provides a comprehensive overview of how to plan and run your pilot program.
CentricMinds Intranet software has a 14-day free trial that may assist in your pilot program.
Once you’ve garnered lessons learnt from the pilot program, you’re able to create iterative builds of your Intranet, adding functionality and users as you go. By following an iterative approach to rolling out enables you to avoid the potential failure of an all-at-once type of launch. This type of project management is known as an Agile approach, which helps deliver a product faster when faced with evolving needs, and is part of many businesses’ ongoing digital transformation efforts.
When building out functions and testing on users, gathering feedback, as well as getting feedback from new teams coming online, you’re able to grow your Intranet successfully for your operation from the very start.
With iterative planning and rollout mechanisms, even when your Intranet is ‘complete,’ you will still be able to use the same approach in the future to add new functionality as your organization grows digitally.