Prioritizing the Intranet's Evolution

by Carmine Porco — From deciding on a family outing to crafting the company strategy, prioritizing intranet projects can be daunting.

"The good news is that most organizations have their 'wish list' of projects written down. The bad news is that they have to be prioritized," says John Sifonis, co-author of the technology best seller

Net Ready


For parents, here is an all too familiar analogy to demonstrate our point. Should we take the children to the park, the zoo, a bike ride or simply sit them in front of the TV? More than likely, the decision will depend on which initiative will have the biggest impact on the children while not being too much of parental burden.

Similarly, when building, redesigning or enhancing a company's intranet, why would you implement a procurement solution that would only be used by a small percentage of users? In contrast, an online directory might prove to be easier to implement and produce a far bigger impact to the organization.

This is where the Project Prioritization Matrix (PPM) can assist.

Source: Net Ready; Hartman and Sifonis

"The Project Prioritization Matrix is an easy to use tool to quickly and easily identify those initiatives from a wish list that offer the highest return for the least effort," Sifonis says.

"Enterprises have more IT-enabled initiatives than they can fund. At the same time, cost constraints are at an all time high and business case justifications often pay scant regard to longer-term issues.

Prioritizing initiatives is difficult. It requires a sound understanding of business priorities and the use of multiple criteria. Part of that criteria is the nature of the enterprise IT portfolio—where does a specific initiative fit into the overall portfolio of investments," says Gartner's Chuck Tucker and Andy Rowsell-Jones in

Getting Priorities Straight


By plotting your initiatives on the PPM, it becomes apparent which initiatives need your focus. Typically, the priority is "quick wins." If something is easy to implement and has a large impact to the organization, do it, take your praise, use the momentum and move onto the other priorities (quadrants).

The low-hanging fruit initiatives are also attractive. Implement some easy applications that may not have an enterprise-wide impact but may assist a particular function or business unit within organization. For example, a manager's dashboard (an intranet site or section dedicated to managers only) may be easy to implement and have a relatively small impact on the whole enterprise, but may have a large impact on managers.

Eventually, an organization must also tackle the "must haves" that are often large implementations that affect the entire organization.

Lastly, the PPM allows you to recognize which projects or initiatives an organization should avoid—those that are difficult to implement and offer low impact. By tackling your intranet initiatives in this manner the project will seem less daunting.

To use a specific example using the human resources (HR) function, let's look at some HR initiatives plotted on the matrix.

Source: Net Ready; Hartman and Sifonis

As illustrated, Directory (an online telephone directory of employee contact information) is a relatively quick win impacting the entire organization with a relatively easy implementation. Expense reporting might also be a priority as it fits nicely into the high-value, upper right hand quadrant of the matrix.

Since online purchasing straddles the "must haves" and "money pits", this organization might be better off implementing stock reporting first, as it might give the organization the proof that online purchasing will in fact have a better impact once the stock reporting application has been successfully implemented. This, of course, is a simplified example of prioritization at work.

When conducting this exercise, one must keep in mind the importance of defining the X and Y axis, "Ease of Implementation" and "Business Impact." Improper definition of these determinants will lead to frustration and an unsuccessful endeavor. These determinants must be tangible and measurable.

For example, under Business Impact, some determinants may consist of return on investment (ROI), increase in customer satisfaction, adherence to corporate policy or a defined per cent of cost reductions. Examples of Ease of Implementation determinants might include ease of cultural change, resource availability, ease of infrastructure changes, budget allocation or level of security required.

All of these determinants must be defined in advance, agreed upon before mapping initiatives to the matrix, and most important, measured


implementation as a baseline for comparison after implementation. These determinants must also be weighted so as to ensure the more important determinants, such as ROI, are adequately reflected in the exercise. Only then can an unbiased approach be successful, thereby ensuring the politics of the decision are lessened substantially.

So, the next time your kids say "I'm bored," just pull out your matrix, plot down some initiatives and find your quick wins!

A Senior Internet Business Consultant and a regular writer and speaker,

Carmine Porco

is the Vice-President of Prescient Digital Media. For more information on Prescient’s CMS Blueprint service, or for a free copy of the white paper “Finding ROI”, please contact us.

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