Implementing your intranet plan and other dastardly deeds
A very general definition of the term “implementation” is execution of an idea, plan, design, model, standard, algorithm, or policy. In the realm of information technology, an implementation is the realization of a technical specification as some type of computer related system or applications. The key words being; plan, specification and realisation.
“Failing to plan is a plan for failure”
“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”
“Toast always falls butter side down”
Ok, so that last one may not have a lot to do with intranets, and I could go on, but you get the message. Whether you want to tweak, fix or completely overhaul your intranet, this undertaking is not something you should just rush head-long into without a plan of attack.
There are a few basic questions that must be answered before you even think about making any changes:
- What changes are needed?
- What are the priorities for improvement for employees? Leadership?
- Who is available to resource the work needed to be done?
- Where is the funding coming from?
When you start answering these questions others will naturally crop up. By executing some basic assessment recognisance via one-on-one interviews, focus groups and surveys, you and your intranet team can formulate a plan for success. Assessment serves two important functions: it documents the needs and requirements of the user population and those of the business and its stakeholders while aligning project goals with corporate goals and objectives.
Now that you have spoken with the key players and end users of the intranet you and your team can get started on the next steps: the Planning activities. Planning activities (Strategy, Governance, Functionality, and Content Management) map out both the strategic and functional components of the changes to be made to your intranet site, and then should map those changes to specific, related tactical steps for implementing them.
Defining functional components is an area where IT and non-IT intranet team members need to get together on the same page, as often this is where the two groups can diverge until such a chasm is created that nobody ends up satisfied with the end result. Synching up what tools like wikis, blogs, and even something as basic as an employee directory listing look like in conjunction with how they will work is not as easy as it really is or should be.
Many IT geeks will say “No problem that is OTB” (translation: out of the box, further translation; the software/application/system comes with that or similar functionality already coded). What that really means is that the company that developed the tool you are using has provided the basic version and 99% of the time it will require at minimum tweaking, but more likely at least a moderate amount of developer time and effort to make it look and work as the end user wants it to.
This is where the scale of effort versus payback comes into play. You and your team will need to evaluate what are the Must Haves, Nice to Haves, and What Can be Done Later elements for the new site. These things must also be weighed against the time/effort required to execute.
While critical elements such as a robust employee directory or executive blog may be non-negotiable, other quick wins such as online feedback forms or event registration while not priorities would be easy to implement and provide the team with a couple of quick wins to build momentum towards a successful re-launch.
In the chart above a quick win might be the implementation of wikis and RSS which have a moderate importance rating but low effort, where as priority efforts should be focused on blogs and the employee directory because of their high importance rating.
Realising the dream
Now that the assessment and planning has been completed and implemented, there are so many upsides to your new and improved intranet that is it hard to limit the list to just a few; but I will. Some of the benefits include:
- Access: Employees have access to real time information to help them do their job.
- ROI: Relatively speaking, an intranet is an inexpensive tool to administer with huge ROI potential.
- Culture: The intranet can help build/support a positive work environment and corporate culture through improved internal communications.
- Collaboration: Via tools such as wikis, project site and communities of practice that facilitate information sharing and collaborative working, employees can share resources and best practice regardless of their physical location.
- Customer Service: Better access to accurate and consistent information has been proven to lead to improved levels of customer service.
- Reduction in paperwork - forms can be accessed and completed on the desktop, and then forwarded as appropriate for approval, without ever having to be printed, and with the benefit of an audit trail.
The other dastardly deeds
So you have spent months talking to people, planning out what changes need to and will take place, and when each of them will be realised. Launch day has, successfully, come and gone. Everyone is hap-hap-happy. The entire intranet team breathes a sigh of relief because now they can focus on other things because the new intranet will take care of itself. Right? ... Wrong!
Now comes a little thing call “continuous improvement”.
An intranet is a living, breathing thing that needs to be tended to. Cared for. Loved.
The basics of caring and feeding the site:
- Metrics. Know what you are measuring, why and who will own the action plan associated with each measurement.
- Keep in touch with your users. By keeping in touch with your site users via surveys, interviews, polls and focus groups you will be able to evolve the site so that it continues to meet the needs of employees.
- Know and understand the
needs of the business.
Ensuring the intranet is aligned with the needs and direction of the business is critical to the site’s overall success. The intranet is not only a work tool for employees, but a communications tool and culture cultivator for the organisation as a whole.
- Improve usability.
Continued planned focus on improving findability, usability and value of the content and tools provided on the site will help your intranet mature and grow with the business and its changing workforce.
- Take care of your team.
There is no “I” in team. A successful intranet cannot be built or maintained by one person, so it is equally important to take care of and pay attention to those who contribute to the site, as it is to the site itself. This is as simple as regular team meetings or calls to keep key players in the loop about what is going on with the site, and ensuring that content authors and contributors have the tools and training needed to make their intranet role simple and fun to execute.
So while the thought of creating a better intranet might be intimidating and seem overwhelming, by putting together a plan based on research and analysis, and working with a skilled team to execute the plan, a new and improved intranet is well within your grasp.
View our webinar, "Delivering a high-performing intranet: The reality in successfully implementing your intranet plan. Case Study with Iron Mountain"