3 things to do before launching a new collaboration solution
The phrase ‘if you build it, they will come’ is sadly not always the case for digital workplace solutions. Creating an intranet solution that is truly loved and adopted by employees takes commitment and a solid launch plan is essential to success.
Maximizing returns on an intranet investment
After 10 years of creating collaboration solutions for global organizations, we’ve compiled our list of 3 things to do before launching your new solution.
#1. Define Champions and Community Managers
For an intranet to be truly adopted, enthusiasm for it needs to be deeply saturated throughout the organization. It’s not enough for the intranet project team to be involved, the intranet needs ambassadors across all departments and locations.
The first step to this is defining who your intranet champions and community managers are. Define them amongst all departments if possible and if your solution is global, across all locations. These Champions will be fully trained on the benefits of the intranet for the global organization but also for their team specifically, helping to drive usage. They’ll be the ones who understand which platforms are to be used for what activities, helping to guide teams on how best to utilize what’s available to them. The deeper the understanding of the intranet goes, the more people will end up using it.
This network of advocates is essential to not only shout about the benefits of the new solution but to ensure its ongoing use by governing particular aspects of the intranet relevant to their teams, e.g. maintaining a particular SharePoint site, managing a Yammer group or creating relevant content. To put this into context, some of our global clients have up to 90 community managers who are responsible for promoting and maintaining the intranet. The best way to select these Champions is to let them sign up for the task, this way you’re bringing the most interested and enthusiastic users on board, rather than dictating an additional task for them to manage.
A final aspect of defining champions is getting senior leadership teams as involved as possible. This should involve ensuring they’re all aware of the new solution and the benefits it will bring to the company and getting them to prioritize uses.
Top tip: Previously our clients have given their 100 most senior employees access to the intranet before official launch. This helped them get on board with the solution early and be more engaged with the solution post-launch.
#2. Have a solid governance strategy
In line with defining the team who will champion the intranet, having a complete governance plan for your intranet is essential to ensure adoption continues long after launch. Aspects to consider include:
A digital workplace should be a living breathing thing and you should expect that you’ll have to improve and change it over time to keep up adoption. Before launch, ensure you have a governance committee and intranet manager/managers established who can steer the ship going forwards. Schedule time to review the solution alongside your champions and community managers, learn from the good and the bad and make edits to your strategy based on intelligence.
To do this, you’ll have to ensure you have some way to monitor the impact of your solution, whether this be through quantitative figures or more outcome based results like innovation from new ways of communicating. Be prepared for changes early on and make the business aware that a roadmap of new features will be needed down the line to keep it valuable.
New content is essential to keep employees coming back to your intranet. If information is stale or not up to the minute, employees will stop seeing it as the place to go to stay connected. To combat this risk, ensure you have a full proof plan in terms of content production, approval and publishing. Define what type of content you will be producing, how often you plan to publish new content and how the approval process will work.
Right before you launch your intranet, ensure that all information on there is up to date, relevant (possibly through targeting functionality) and looks great with engaging imagery.
Social communities strategy
It’s also important to have thought through your governance plan for communities within your collaboration site, whether this be through Yammer or SharePoint. Firstly, ensure that your champions have effectively communicated the benefits of these networking sites to employees and that it’s clear how they are intended to make use of them.
Before the launch of a social intranet, we would recommend pulling together a few ideas of conversation starters that would encourage users to visit the new site. For example, we helped dorma+kaba launch a social intranet solution to coincide with one of their largest corporate events. They encouraged users to log on to the social intranet follow the key announcements from the event and also start their own conversations on Yammer to keep employees who weren’t in attendance informed of important announcements.
Top tip: We’ve found that launching Yammer initially within your organization and building up usage before launching the global intranet can be effective. This means employees are already accustomed to using social networking tools to communicate and they have a reason to go to the intranet already.
#3. Build up excitement
To ensure that as many employees as possible get behind a new solution, it’s crucial to build up excitement about it and make a song and dance about what it can do and how it can help. Some examples we’ve seen from our clients are:
- Give early access to a selection of employees
- Create a launch video and campaign
- Holding competitions i.e. an intranet naming competition
- Intranet welcome packages
- Feedback groups
- Intranet scavenger hunts
- Merchandise with intranet branding
- Having the intranet on big screens around the office
By putting some of these suggestions into practice, our clients’ solutions have made a massive impact on their employees and continue to deliver value years down the line.
10 essentials for staging the ultimate intranet launch
Launch activities are an essential part of maximizing returns on an intranet investment. Planning an effective launch gets new sites buzzing from day one, resulting in faster adoption and increased engagement. Whether there’s budget available – or just manpower and internal communications – the key to a successful intranet launch is having a solid plan backed by reams of enthusiasm.