Never ending tasks and the intranet treadmill

What challenges do we face in management and intranet implementation that are like ‘painting the Forth bridge’? (or the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Golden Gate, for that matter!)

What never-ending challenges do we face?

Back in the UK there is a very famous bridge that spans Firth of Forth in Scotland. It’s over 8,000 feet long and has been a fixture of the East Coast Landscape since it opened in 1890. Due to its impressive size, the bridge has historically taken so long to paint that by the time workers reached the end, it was time to start again. This idea has seeped into our consciousness and now Brits use the bridge as an analogy for any kind of never-ending task. And that got me thinking - what challenges do we face in management that are like ‘painting the Forth bridge’? (or the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Golden Gate, for that matter!)

Intranets are the new Forth Bridge

Traditionally, an intranet portal can take months of planning, researching and a long wait for budget approval. Get through that hoop and there’s design, build, and deployment to come. It’s an uphill climb and according to the Nielsen Norman Group, based on winning entries for their ‘Best Corporate Intranet award’, it could be on average 1.5 years before the task is complete. Unfortunately at this point the business has often moved on, technology has moved on and that bleeding edge triumph the board approved twelve months ago has lost its sparkle. Sure, keeping the users engaged and the page views at a respectable level helps, but the goalposts have moved. The employees want something social, dynamic and up to the minute. It seems like as soon as the old one is launched it time to start again.

Show me the money!

The other non-trivial issue is the budget. A traditional bespoke intranet solution for a medium sized company, of say 4,000 users, is going to require an investment of $300,000-$700,000 to get the job done properly. This is a significant investment, and just like the timescales, the budget will end up being elastic and the scope inevitably creeps. It is extremely challenging to properly estimate the cost for a portal that is going to touch all of the connected users in a company.

There are competing priorities from stakeholders; Corp Comms, IT, Sales, Finance, HR, the Executive suite… you get the picture. How many Intranet project sponsors have dreaded going ‘back to the well’ with a change request in hand? The pain doesn’t end there, because once live and deployed, just like the Forth Bridge, without the budget for maintenance, updating and expanding, it will soon be structurally unsound or redundant.

There’s a better way

In the new world of work, there are three things to consider:

  • Rising customer expectations means we need to become customer obsessed
  • Engaged employees lead to increased internal and external customer satisfaction
  • Meaningful social and digital interaction is a new business imperative to enable this

A social, agile, up-to-date intranet platform, which works on any device is a key building block to achieving those aims and this is the fundamental philosophy behind Unily. We embarked on this journey two years ago, to develop a platform incorporating these key tenets; simplicity, award winning design, technical innovation, with an ‘evergreen’ lifecycle and world class customer success. While we are continuously evolving our approach and technology, (the paint on our bridge is never dry!), we are able to deliver on the goal of predictable cost, timescales and quality.

Harnessing the power of Office 365 and Windows Azure, with Unily's proven know-how in innovative design, we are building the best intranet as a service that never grows old and will help organizations keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology. As Jack Welch famously quoted: 'If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.' The world of work is changing, let us help you with the transformation.

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