How to get started with your new intranet

20-05-2020 If you are considering giving your intranet an upgrade there are some fundamental elements you should consider before starting the intranet project.

New intranet from start to finish

Overall we can split up the process towards a new intranet into 4 phases: 1) preperation, 2) clarification, design and configuration, 3) communicating to the organization and 4) migrating the content. The borders between the four phases are fluid and they will often overlap. The first phase, concerning preparation and organization before the start of the project, is the one we’re focusing on in this blog post.

Preparation and organization

This phase is all about ensuring that the project has a solid foundation to build on. It requires a clear understanding of the purpose of the intranet and clarity concerning roles and responsibilities.

There are 4 areas we recommend that you get a handle on before the start of the intranet project. These are:

  • Vision
  • Ownership
  • Organization
  • Content and editors

Vision

Your first task is to clarify what the purpose of the intranet is. How should it support your business and corporate strategy? How does the intranet fit into your collective digital workplace and how does this work together with your other channels of communication and collaborative tools?

The vision is crucial for both design and choice of functionality, so we must know if the primary purpose of the intranet is to, e.g. increase productivity, support knowledge sharing across the organization, strengthen our corporate identity or something else.

When we know what the employees should gain from the intranet we can then later measure if the intranet has actually been successful or if adjustments are needed.

Ownership

Next step to getting the project off to a good start is to find out what roles are needed and how responsibilities should be delegated – both in development and in the implementation of the new intranet, but also when it’s ready for daily operation. To clarify ownership we first need a solid governance setup and we need to ensure that the intranet remains relevant to our users.

In many organizations ownership is split between IT and Communication. In some places HR are also included which makes a lot of sense as the intranet is about our place of work and working environment. We find that the intranets that work the best are owned in equal parts by IT and the business with clearly defined ownership and roles.  

Organization

With the vision and ownership in place next step is to consider how the organization surrounding the project should be. We must identify the stakeholders and consider how to organize them. There are of course several ways to get organized but for many it makes sense to have a project group, a steering committee and the involvement of content owners and end users through a reference group or on ad hoc basis. Here are a few words and recommendations on the organization:

Project group: It is necessary for the project group to have a decision making mandate – of course based on the vision. The project group should not be too large as size can work against efficient decision making.

Steering committee: A steering committee where relevant parts of the business can be represented is valuable to most. The exact parts of the business that are relevant is dependent upon the vision and ownership.

Reference group: In some projects it can also make sense to have a reference group. This can consist of chosen content editors or people with a lot of content on the intranet. A reference group can be a good place to try out design, informational architecture, navigation or layout.

Intranet owner: Depending on your governance setup there can be one or several intranet owners. The owner/owners will typically be part of the project group and/or steering committee.

It can be beneficial to have content editors, content owners and end users in the steering committee and/or reference group.

Content and editors

The final task we’ll present here is to get a clear overview over existing content and editors. The purpose being to make the migration as smooth as possible along with building a strong foundation for a potential new information architecture. Many will use the process of creating a new intranet to also clean up existing content.

It is often a time-consuming job to get a clear picture of content and deciding what to migrate. That is precisely why you should start the clean up as early as possible. One way of doing this is to get editors or content owners to identify what content to keep. This can be done on the basis of a site map or a simple Excel sheet where content owners add the intranet pages to be moved. If you have an analytical tool at your disposal or other relevant data that can also be a good place to start.

Once you have these four areas under control you are well on your way towards a new or upgraded intranet.

If you have any questions or require consulting about your intranet project you are welcome to get in touch.