How To Get Your Intranet Project Started
It’s time to further engage with members of your business,
in order to get your intranet formally started.
How To Get Your Intranet Project Started
The research stage of the intranet project is now complete. The next step involves engaging with stakeholders and colleagues to kick-start the implementation phase.
From developing an intranet roadmap and setting up a steering group, we take you through the steps needed to ensure success.
Planning Your Intranet Deployment
By now, you have probably identified the intranet platform best suited for your organization. You will also have a good understanding of the problems the intranet will solve, the costs, and the essential security considerations.
The next step is to engage with stakeholders within your organization to begin the implementation phase. You will need the support of stakeholders and colleagues within the business to ensure your intranet deployment is a success.
Even if you have an existing intranet, it’s often a good idea to go back to first base. Use the steps we identify below to explore what’s working well in your existing intranet. And then go on to consider what needs to improve.
Intranet Steering Group
A cross-departmental intranet steering group is a great place to get started. The aim is to draw together the knowledge and expertise needed to guide the intranet’s development.
As well as helping to spread the load, representation from across the business means you get input from all departments. Plus, you get the buy-in of employees from the get-go.
Try and keep membership tight so the group doesn’t become just a talking shop. According to Nielsen Norman Group’s annual survey of the best intranets, the average team size is 14.
And make sure a senior manager or board member chairs the steering group. That way, the group will have the internal clout and access to resources needed for success.
Develop clear terms of reference for the group. Many companies have given the group a long-term remit to retain oversight of the intranet even after the launch. The terms of reference for your intranet steering group may include the following:
- Develop the organization’s aims and objectives for the intranet
- Consult with employees on required tools and functions
- Take the lead on drawing up the intranet’s required functionality
- Prepare an intranet roadmap and site plan (see below for more detail)
- Oversee development of the intranet platform
- Organize a staff training program in how to use the intranet software
- Prepare an intranet governance policy
- Collate and respond to ongoing feedback from users
- Keep updated on changing business requirements
- Ensure the intranet continues to meet its aims and objectives.
It’s never too early to start thinking about a name for your intranet. After all, iSeek, Merlin, or Xpress sound much cooler than plain old intranet.
Why not involve employees in coming up with a catchy name for the intranet. It’s a great way to generate a buzz and sense of excitement about the intranet’s arrival. And it can help drive intranet adoption and engagement with the workforce.
An intranet roadmap is a must-have. It provides the clarity and clear sense of direction needed for success.
Rather than a written document, the roadmap is usually in graphic format. Pitched at the strategic level, the roadmap provides an overview of all the different aspects of the intranet deployment. These will probably include the following:
- Overall vision and intranet aims and objectives
- Significant milestones
- Specific work streams associated with intranet deployment, e.g., design, content creation, pilot, launch
- Intranet implementation budget
- Key outcomes
- Success measures, including KPIs.
The intranet roadmap makes managing your intranet deployment project a whole lot easier. It ensures you stay on track. And it’s also useful in managing the expectations of all internal stakeholders.
For more guidance on developing an intranet roadmap, check out our detailed blog post here.
Intranet Site Map
Armed with your list of requirements, features, and tools, the next step is to organize the information into a workable framework. That’s where the site map comes in.
If you have opted for a cloud intranet, then the software will already have some pre-configured pages. Here at MyHub, our intranet software comes with the following pages:
- Staff directory
- Document exchange
- Team chat.
This provides a basic site map that you can start to build on. You may want to add additional pages depending on the structure of your business.
When developing your site map, be mindful of navigation. You want to make it as easy as possible for users to find the information they need. The general rule is to use as few clicks as possible. Make it too hard and complicated, and you risk disengaging your users.
Here’s our take on how to develop a site map in five easy steps.
- Grab a piece of paper and a pencil. If you prefer, use a whiteboard, PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Word and create a simple company organization chart.
- Draw a box at the top and label it “home page.”
- Then, next to the home page box, create a separate box for every parent page or section of your intranet.
- And under each parent page, add boxes for additional child pages you would like to go in that section.
- Repeat until you have listed every page you want on your intranet.
Intranet governance refers to the systems and processes in place to support the intranet’s ongoing management. It sets out expectations around responsibility for content, users, functionality, and purpose.
It’s vital to have a well-defined framework in place. Without clear rules and responsibilities, your intranet will soon flounder and fail. The intranet needs a strong management structure to function optimally.
Every organization is different, and so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to intranet governance. However, there will be some common elements, including the following:
Identify who in the organization is responsible for creating and editing content. Also, consider who has responsibility for reviewing content and deleting any that is out of date or no longer relevant. You will likely have several content creators and editors spread across different teams within the organization. Make sure all staff are aware of the process and who is responsible.
The ability to work collaboratively in private project spaces is one of the intranet’s best features. However, these spaces need to be managed appropriately. Be sure to draw up criteria on how to set up and access collaborative workspaces. It’s also a good idea to think about clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the project space. And finally, have a system in place setting out how to close a collaborative workspace once a project has ended.
Site Map Overview
As your site grows, so too will the content. Your intranet governance policy should make it clear who has responsibility for ensuring the site map’s integrity. You still need to provide the user with quick and easy access to information.
Part of the site map review also involves ensuring the modules and tools continue to be relevant to business objectives. Your operating environment will be constantly changing and evolving. Your intranet needs to do the same if it is to remain relevant.
The governance policy should make it clear who is responsible when something goes wrong, or there’s a technical issue.
Also, consider what the process is for adding and deleting users and setting site permissions. As we saw in chapter four, it’s vital to the intranet’s overall security that site permissions are robust and reviewed regularly.
Ongoing Support And Feedback
Use the intranet governance policy to make it clear who is responsible for intranet induction training as well as support for content editors. Furthermore, consider how employees can provide ongoing feedback to management on the intranet.
For clarity and transparency, the intranet governance framework should address all the issues identified here.
Initial Things To Consider
It’s tough getting started with a blank piece of paper. And so to guide the intranet steering group, we have developed a checklist of action points.
Here are the basic principles to consider, which will support your planning:
Keep It Simple
The best intranets are the ones that keep it simple. When it comes to design, a simple, uncluttered look goes a long way to success. Don’t feel as though you have to fill up every space on the screen.
Make sure you use straightforward, everyday language. And also use plenty of images, diagrams, and videos. Users will find this very engaging. And it gives your intranet visual appeal and variety.
Easy To Use
When designing your intranet, try to think like the typical site user. Aim to make it as intuitive and straightforward to use as possible. An overly complicated intranet that’s hard to navigate or has too much going on will fail to take off.
Easy To Manage
As well as looking fantastic and being easy to use, the intranet should also be easy to manage. An intranet that’s simple and intuitive to manage on an ongoing basis should also be a top priority.
Branding, Colors & Fonts
The intranet should reflect your existing company image and be in keeping with your public-facing internet site. Be consistent in your use of branding, colors, and fonts. An intranet that staff instantly recognize and feel comfortable with helps with adoption.
A mobile-responsive intranet site is an absolute must in today’s digital workplace. And even more so since the explosion in remote working that followed in the wake of Covid-19. Staff should be able to access all company information and tools needed to get the job done. And this applies to employees in the workplace, working remotely, or out of the office and on the road.
Make sure your intranet is optimized for the smaller screens of the average smartphone or tablet. For mobile devices, keep the navigation short and sweet and list the most important pages first. What’s more, mobile users will be using touchscreens to find their way around the intranet. So, think about using graphic buttons and drop-down menus.
Finally, before you commit, be sure to sign up for a demo of the intranet software. Most intranet providers offer free demos or shared screen tours that take you through the software. Some, like MyHub, even offer a 14-day free trial. Demos and free trials are the best way to test drive the software and determine whether it’s a good fit.
Involve the intranet steering group in any demos or trial runs. That way, you will get a good cross-section of feedback from potential users in the organization.
And if you are running with an off-the-shelf option, then do your homework and check out customer reviews. There are several review or specialist tech websites out there, which will give you valuable insights into the software. So, take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the experience of others.
Our blog has a ton of detailed guidance, tips, and insights on getting started on your intranet project. Check it out for more detail.