The Master Ingredients for a Great Intranet

by Toby Ward. Great intranets all have one thing in common – greatly skilled and dedicated people.

From frontline employees, to supportive executives, the great intranets use technology as an enabler, but are truly powered by people, and process. Of the great intranets cited in the Great Intranets: From Design to Social white paper, all are powered by different technologies. However, all are well-funded and supported by dedicated executive champions, and all reflect the needs and requirements of average employees.

The greatest intranets rely on a handful of master ingredients that are principally based on people and process.

Business Case

The need for accountability and for clear measures of success is increasingly demanded for all corporate expenditures, including intranets. If you are responsible for an intranet, you need to know how build a business case and develop a return on investment (ROI) strategy. A successful business case includes:

  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Expected costs
  • Expected return on investment

Note that the business case should not merely discuss dollars and cents, but discuss the problems it will solve, and also the non-monetary benefits it will deliver. This business case should also include a strategic plan with KPIs (key performance indicators) that can be measured and tracked over time

Employee Requirements

Understand and document what employees want, need and expect from the intranet. This is often different from what senior management wants, but a common middle ground can be found. The number one priority for most employees: speed. The ability to find relevant content as fast as possible. This requires strong information architecture, content governance policies, well-trained and eager publishers, and a strong design and search that enable people to find the content.

Business Requirements

Senior executives run your business, and therefore the end form and function of the intranet must take into account their specific needs and requirements. Often those top priorities include increased engagement, collaboration, productivity and communications. Strong content and tools that support the entire business are the end-game.


Content is still king. Both employees and executives alike want content that is timely, relevant, and has a finite life. All content should be reviewed, archived or deleted with 12 months.

Read more on Intranet Content Management


Without an explicitly-defined ownership structure – with concrete roles and responsibilities for all – your intranet will fail. It must have an executive champion, some form of committee or council that represents the most important areas or contributors of the intranet, a day-to-day owner, and regular content contributors. Supporting this ownership model are requisite policies and standards that govern the creation and management of content, page layout, applications, and design.

Executive Champion

The very best intranets are championed by the President or CEO or equivalent. At the very least, the intranet should have one or two executive champions that, if not the CEO, report to the CEO. The executive champ must have political clout, access to funding (money), and the power to mediate and dissolve political issues. No one ingredient is more important to the intranet than the executive champion.

These master ingredients will be front-and-center and showcased by some of the World’s best intranets – from Google to Coca-Cola, Bayer and Liberty Mutual – at this the this year's Digital Workplace & Intranet Global Forum conference in New York. Reserve now and bring a colleague for free.