I often help organizations during the early stages of an Intranet implementation. While every Intranet project is different, I often experience that many questions have not been answered, before the project has been decided and the budget approved.
In a time, where organizations move away from on-premise solutions (Intranet platforms hosted on own servers) to Cloud solutions (a platform based on external provider's shared infrastructure such as Microsoft Azure, Amazons AWS or Oracle Cloud), Intranet projects have become both easier and more complex.
Easier, because if you are "in the cloud" you can now buy an Intranet solution from a Saas (Software as a Service) vendor with a great User Experience and with out-of-the-box tools that have proven valuable to millions of other users. You just pay a monthly fee per user and the vendor will take care of the future development of the platform.
More complex, because of the enormous amount of opportunities and the fact that this development we are seeing also means that the whole concept of what an Intranet should do is changing. Furthermore, you see vendors who say they are able to set up a new Intranet for you within a month.
While this might sound promising, you have to be aware that they are talking about the technical setup. You are still left with the hard part - identifying needs, stakeholder management, change management, governance, etc. Something that is often being underestimated in time, budget and FTEs.
While every Intranet project is different, here are some of the questions I often ask when I meet with clients who are about to start up a new Intranet:
Why do you need to improve the Intranet?
What is the role of your Intranet in the organization? And what should it be?
Why do you need an Intranet today? Where does it deliver added value compared to newer HR Cloud platforms etc.?
What do you want to achieve by improving the Intranet?
Do you know the current pain points? Have you made an assessment of your Intranet?
Do you know why your colleagues use the Intranet (what are their top tasks)? In other words - do you know where the intranet creates flow and friction for your colleagues in their everyday work?
Do you have any data - or access to any data on how your colleagues use the Intranet today?
Who owns the Intranet today? What does it mean to "own the Intranet" in your organization?
How is your current Intranet setup? Do you have an Intranet Manager? If not, who is governing your intranet today?
Do you have clearly defined responsibilities? For instance, does the business have assigned content owners who are responsible for creating and updating content?
Who from the top management level is going to sponsor this project - is this the right person with a holistic approach? Do they see the value? Which value do they see/expect?
Did you already commit to a fixed budget or is your budget going to be based on an assessment that you are about to make? If it is fixed already, are you sure, you haven't promised too much already? Will you be able to come back to your sponsor and make clear that you need a budget for resources and ongoing development of the Intranet?
Do you know who your key stakeholders are? How do you plan to involve your stakeholders in the early stages of the project?
Do you know your organization's IT, HR, Procurement, and other roadmaps? For instance, are they planning some major improvements to their platforms as well? If yes, how can you make sure, you are focusing on solutions that can deliver a great coherent experience for your colleagues? For instance, if some of your stakeholders plan to invest in IT platforms in the near future - would it be possible to integrate some features with the Intranet - or is there a risk that the platforms overlap and features?
If you're representing the business - are you able to go beyond representing the needs of your own department (for instance, if you are seated in Communications are you aware that you have to go beyond the interests of the communications department to deliver a great Intranet?)
Your project team
Who is going to run the project with you? For instance, if you're representing the business, do you have a "wing-man" in the IT department who can help you translate business needs into IT specifications - and who you can have a fruitful conversation about business needs vs IT Infrastructure.
Do you have all the in-house competencies you need to identify business needs, develop the strategy, find potential vendors, develop the project plan and implement it?
Do you have a person who can train people in using the Intranet?
Do you have enough resources to get a project up & running or do you have to ask for resources during the different stages? Are your project members assigned full time or part-time to the project?
Did you establish a clear common mindset of where you are going and what your priorities are when developing your new Intranet?
I hope you find these questions helpful. You can read more about how I help here https://www.inversus.info/digital-workplace. If you have any questions in relation to the blog post, feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org