In my position I speak to many customers about their intranet strategy week after week. In numerous cases, even where there is a clear business case for moving off of a legacy platform or improving a failing best intranet experience that requires immediate attention people don’t know how to begin. For large organizations with a voluminous amount of content and documents with a limited team at their disposable it appears like a daunting prospect so analysis-paralysis (the state of over-thinking a situation so that a decision or action is never taken) takes hold and progress grinds to a halt. There are a number of ways that organizations can get started on their intranet project.
How to get started
#1. Forget the Fear Factor
Don’t let fear hold you back from getting started. The chances are that you are in this position because you have recognized the need for urgent change and you have secured the support of your leadership team. Even if your first iteration isn’t perfect at least it will be better than what you have today. Communicating the strategy to your employees will help set expectations and let them know that future phases are coming to address additional functionality.
#2. Define who really needs what initially
In your initial phases of re-thinking, ensure you’re really defining who needs what to get you off on the right foot. Start by creating personas of your key user groups and define what they’ll need the solution to do primarily. Agree the most common ways that employees want to work, collaborate and communicate with one another and let this guide you. You’ll then be able to pinpoint the variety of tools and apps to include in the intranet that will satisfy how they want to work, helping you prioritize what to do first.
#3. Better done than perfect – be prepared for an iterative approach
You’ve probably heard of the cliché phrase ‘don’t boil the ocean’, in this case it is probably not a good idea to attempt to take on everything at once. Continuously remind yourself to be pragmatic, tackling the most essential items of the project first and then breaking out functionality into further phases. Alongside defining personas, use any current analytics you have or survey your staff to discover what they think is most important.
#4. Consider a hybrid approach
If you are moving from an on-premises setup to a cloud based solution, such as Office 365, then you may need to support functionality that either will not work in the cloud or you have specific reasons for wanting to keep out. In these scenarios don’t let that delay your project, identify the content that will work just fine in the cloud and start there, then link to the limited content that has to be retained on-premises. Using a hybrid configuration between Office 365 and an on-premises SharePoint Server you can allow content to be unified on either environment using search and when coupled with some branding changes to make the local content appear in the same style as your new cloud intranet your users will have a seamless experience and may not even realize when they are navigating between the two worlds.
#5. Evaluate a turnkey intranet approach
BrightStarr launched their Unily Intranet as a Service solution because 8 out of 10 of organizations high-level requirements for a new corporate intranet are the same. Save money, time and get a risk free, guaranteed result by choosing a solution and tailoring it to meet your exact requirements. (Read more on whether custom developed intranets make business sense here ) Unily has been designed to be a best practice intranet by a company that has won the Nielsen Norman Intranet of the Year Award in three of the past four years, so why not lean on their experience?
Getting executive approval is stressful enough and once the technology platform has been chosen and budget secured the work is really only just beginning. Despite the major task ahead of you, it is important not to lose sight of the mandate for change you have been given and keep the benefits it will bring in front of mind.
If you keep your employees waiting for another six, or more, months for the ‘perfect solution’, corporate strategy, business conditions and employee priorities could have shifted before you even begin using the solution. Your employees will appreciate an improved experience provided within two-three months, with iterative improvements to follow.