Does your digital workplace need a dedicated manager?

Much like a business, an intranet is an ever-evolving beast. A company intranet should grow with an organization, reflecting changing goals, demands, and approaches taking place within the wider business. In order to deliver a truly innovative platform that continues to engage employees and be valued as a key tool for communication and collaboration, is there is a need to elect a dedicated someone to oversee the maintenance of the digital workplace? And if so, who?

Do you need a dedicated intranet manager?

The short answer is, yes. Speaking from experience, our team of consultants and success managers unanimously recommended identifying a key person who can take responsibility for coordinating the digital workplace. That person doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged intranet manager but should be an identified decision maker with a job role that incorporates intranet management responsibilities.

In the absence of a responsible party, there is a risk of a digital workplace becoming stale and unengaging. Time needs to be spent analyzing usage data, identifying areas for improvement, reviewing new technology available and implementing fresh strategies for keeping the platform engaging and up-to-date.

With years of experience supporting intranet projects, Unily’s Global Customer Success Manager, Hannah Winthrop, believes an intranet manager is worth the investment: “There’s no point launching something and leaving it to tick over – it needs to constantly evolve, adapt and change to suit the business environment and end-user needs and without someone taking ownership it’s nearly impossible!”

What if you can’t justify dedicating an employee solely to intranet management?

Not every business has the capacity to create an entire job role around intranet management. Intranets are still a relatively new business component so there is an understandable hesitation to dedicate a member of staff solely to intranet management until the value of the model is solidified.

In the meantime, it is possible to enact a hybrid approach that devolves intranet management responsibilities and divides them amongst different departments.

The hybrid approach

A hybrid approach involves selecting individuals from different departments to oversee the various elements of an intranet. Dividing responsibilities in this way allows a business to utilize the expertise of key people throughout the organization, attributing responsibilities that complement their existing roles.

For example, site pages can be managed by heads of departments minimizing the impact on IC teams. HR can manage the HR site, sales the sales site and so on. This leaves IC staff available to concentrate on big-picture thinking, driving awareness and innovating.

As an example, the following structure could be used to split intranet management across teams:

Content maintenance – divide this up between departments, with departments heads taking ultimate responsibility for their respective sites. Training as many people as possible to create upload content will ensure your intranet remains fresh and lessens the content-production burden on IC.

Analytics & monitoring – Monitoring the success of the intranet through analytics, surveys and anecdotal feedback can remain in the hands of IC. This information will inform the overall strategy for increasing engagement and adoption, so it is important that it is carefully considered by someone with the time and skills to properly derive results.

Strategy & development – Freeing IC up from focusing solely on content production allows your creatives to focus on what they’re really good at: coming up with big-picture initiatives that keep your intranet moving forward. Using insights generated from analytics, the IC team can come up with strategies for improving and innovating the platform as a whole. IT can input on technical advances that may be implemented to improve efficiencies such as new apps, tools, and widgets.

Governance & technical issues – Fixing bugs and tending to technical issues will require a level of technical expertise and therefore should remain in the hands of IT. The same goes for setting up new user logins and managing security permissions. By removing the bulk of the burden from the shoulders of the IT team, techies are freed up to focus on the areas on which they can have the greatest impact.

Who should manage your intranet?

Another option for splitting the load of intranet management responsibilities is to define a department to oversee the entire digital workplace project. IC is the obvious answer, but that hasn't always been the case.

In the past, the intranet was firmly in the domain of IT. However, advances in technology have simplified the processes involved with content management, governance and information architecture so that intranet management can now be carried out by individuals with little to no IT know-how. The input of IT has become less necessary as the need for hard-coding and HTML knowledge have minimized.

As a result, the focus has shifted from IT infrastructure to communications and content management. Communications teams are now able to take ownership of the intranet, devising new strategies and initiatives that are content-centric and don’t rely on IT to approve and implement. Increasingly, intranet management is becoming an internal communications responsibility, which is a huge step in the right direction considering the efficacy of an intranet as an IC tool.

Internal Communications and Human Resources teams are often at the forefront of pioneering intranet products, getting buy-in from executives and selling the concept the wider business. This is because they see the value in intranets for improving the efficiency and impact of their respective endeavors.

Traditionally, these departments have been forced to take a back-seat in assisting the development of the digital workplace meaning that the eventual design may not have always met with initial expectations. By putting the power back in the hands of IC and HR, you can ensure that the intranet’s structure is fit for purpose, maximizing usability and functionality. HR and IC are best placed to understand the needs of different departments - since it is their role to support employee engagement and productivity - and are therefore able to tailor the structure and design to meet those needs.

What skills does an intranet manager need?

If your company can already see the value in electing a dedicated intranet manager, the question becomes ‘what skills should they have’ and ‘how will their job role look’?

An intranet manager should be both strategic and creative. They will need to be able to balance coming up with innovative ideas for content with big-picture strategies for evolving the platform. Logic will play a part when it comes to mapping out site navigation and developing an intuitive user experience. Communications skills will be just as valuable as project management experience and most important of all will be an ability to connect with business goals and strategize accordingly.

As an example, an intranet manager’s job role may look something like this:

Role & Responsibilities

  • The Intranet Manager will be responsible for ensuring that the intranet becomes a central, reliable and strategic business tool.
  • The Intranet Manager will be the key go-to person for all things related to the intranet.
  • Create and maintain an intranet governance plan, including starters and leavers, content and archiving strategy
  • Develop a training programme to ensure staff are able to fully utilize the digital workplace as a tool to increase productivity
  • Train and support content producers across various departments, assisting with overall content strategy and mentoring where necessary 
  • Work alongside Internal Communications to devise and implement content and user guidelines
  • Engage with industry news to stay abreast of technological developments that could be implemented to improve the digital workplace
  • Ensure a sound structure of the site is maintained and provide recommendations on visual styles and manage all page templates
  • Review user analytics and conduct research to identify areas for improvement; producing recommendations and strategies for increasing engagement and functionality of the intranet

Skills & Experience

  • Outstanding verbal & written communication skills
  • Content production and strategy experience
  • Strong organizational and project management skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Tech-savvy
  • Experienced with Office applications
  • Knowledge of social software and other web-based technologies
  • Basic understanding of the components of common web technology (HTML, CSS, Javascript)

Find out more

Our team of experts are on hand to help you understand how a digital workplace could work for your organization. With years of experience assisting company’s in developing their own frameworks for managing and deploying intranet projects, they can help you understand exactly what resources you will need to make your intranet a success. For more information and advice tailored to your unique requirements, get in contact today.

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