Just like any complex project, a project to build a new intranet requires good planning. In this article, I will discuss some key points worth considering while creating the plan.
In essence, an intranet is a website, just only accessible to the employees. Many of the planning steps, will, therefore, be similar. I already addressed some of the general key points in other articles on website project planning and stakeholder management. Another relevant article will be about reducing time to market and cost of websites. Have a look at those for an overall approach. In this article, I will discuss the bits relevant only to the intranet and stress out some most important points.
Research the requirements with all departments
A company website is directed outwards therefore the only departments that will have relevant input will be the ones which interface with the outside world - most notably sales and marketing. In the case of the intranet however, all departments thoughts are important. After all - they are the audience - the customers for whom the product is built.
Obviously, you may not be able to accommodate all the wishes and requests, but quite often you can get really quick wins that help a lot.
Things to look for in particular are:
- Inability to communicate with employees.
- Needs for places to publish things
- Dashboards which do not have a good place to be published and be accessed
- Documentation which is stored in department specific things built out of a need
The more features that are required but easy to deliver you can find, the easier it will be to build an intranet which is visited often and the more buy-in you will get from the company as a whole.
Plan the integrations really well
Intranets are very often integrated with multiple internal systems. While planning the new intranet you have to take this into account.
- Make sure that all the integrations you will need will be possible with the software package of your choice.
- Verify what will your IT and security teams look at to make sure your system will pass the requirements.
Some key considerations might have to be taken into account, like hosting the intranet internally vs externally, allowing VPN access from outside the company’s network etc for employees who work remotely etc.
Plan for the initial phase after launch
The first few months of the new intranets life are much more important than in a regular website. Intranet has to very active at the start. If you launch a website and do not add blog posts to often, it will perhaps not be such a big deal, but if you start an intranet and then will not update it, your employees will deem it dormant and will stop visiting it. Bringing them back is difficult.
The best plan is to have a good list of things ready to be published. Prepare them before going live so that there are no surprises. Posting daily, in the beginning, is a great approach to get employees hooked and induce a habit of checking for updates (eg. once daily during morning coffee).
Plan for monitoring and improvements
You will not get everything right. Plan for a phase of fixes and improvements. Allow for it in the budget. Once the intranet is live, you will get feedback from people across the organisation about things that could be improved. It would be a shame if you could not use this momentum to improve the intranet and also show the staff that you are listening to their suggestions and want to make the intranet better for them.
Plan for maintenance
Just like any other website, the intranet requires upkeep. Security updates and enhancements will have to be made and performance will have to be monitored. Verify how this will be done. If your intranet is built by an external vendor, verify with your IT department how access will be managed so that the vendor can continue delivering the service.