Even with all the new digital tools that have emerged over recent years, intranets remain a core channel for communicators. From our conversations we know that many of you are either already working on an intranet-based project or about to start one, so below are 10 factors we believe make for a successful intranet (re)launch:

  1. Understand and involve your users

Before starting an intranet (re)launch, you need to understand how employees will use it. An intranet should support all user groups in their day-to-day work, use language that’s familiar to them, and solve issues that are currently causing inefficiencies. Different user groups use their departmental collaboration space in different ways. If you’re not fully aware of requirements and gaps, then the end-result may well be a system that no-one uses.

2. Create a clear intranet strategy and plan

Do you know exactly what it is that you need? This means defining not only what your stakeholders will get out of it, but also how it will affect employees and the organisation as a whole. Without a clearly defined plan, you’re basically operating blind, which may lead you away from your goal. And how will you be able to measure ROI with no benchmarks or objectives in place? Once you know where you’re going, create a clearly defined plan of action to get you there.

3. Commit to a governance strategy

Who owns the intranet? Without proper ownership, management and standards for your intranet, it will fail. How the platform is managed and governed needs to be clearly defined during the planning process and then actively supported by senior management. Without this, people won’t take their responsibility seriously and the user experience will suffer. With an agreed governance model in place, the intranet will be able to grow and adapt with the organisation.

4. Make sure your search is working hard

One of the benefits of an intranet is the time-saving opportunity, so having an effective search function is critical. Your intranet will be of little value if users aren’t able to quickly find what they’re looking for. Equally, it’s an ineffective use of people’s time to filter through pages of search results or be faced with inaccurate search results.

To help users find content more easily, take the time to define what metadata will best support their searching by keyword or general information architecture. Think about what type of information users might look for and use their language (see number 1 above). Will the search need to display local or enterprise-wide results? Once these decisions have been made, be clear with users about what they can expect to avoid confusion and disappointment.

5. Think beyond the implementation

When (re)launching an intranet it’s important to think beyond the implementation and launch, and consider the longer-term plan. Over time a tool can lose its relevance if it isn’t kept up-to-date. Content must be refreshed, new functionalities added, and even entirely new sections created. In addition, ongoing training and support should be given to end-users to keep adoption levels up.

6. Plan your resources

Resourcing of an intranet implementation as well as the post-implementation and continuous maintenance have to be well-planned. Your goal should be to ensure that every department feels that they have a voice and are included in the discussions and decisions that will affect them. Therefore, the ideal project team is a varied group of stakeholders with decision-making power for their respective departments. Testing also needs to be resourced with different user groups. This inclusive approach to resourcing will ultimately drive user engagement and adoption across the entire organisation.

7. Treat your new intranet as a change project

Our environment is constantly changing, with new technology regularly being introduced. A new intranet is just one of those ‘revolutionary new ideas’ employees are dealing with on an almost daily basis. If change fatigue sets in, your employees will either resist the change, ignore it, or expect that it will just be replaced by the next ‘thing’ soon anyway. Resistance to change is a major cause of intranet adoption failure and needs to be tackled from the start. Developing a robust change strategy will provide direction and purpose for all your activities.

8. Communicate

Does senior management understand what you’re proposing? Are all affected business areas aware of the proposed change(s) so they can get involved? As with any project, if a new intranet isn’t fully endorsed by senior management it will be more difficult to achieve success. Once the project is underway, your communications plan should include a stakeholder map and the most appropriate channels for delivering regular updates on where the project is going, the project stages and milestones, as well as any challenges experienced on the way. Stakeholders also need to understand what the final product will offer and what their expected involvement is during the project and going forward – manage those expectations!

9. Train everyone

Everyone, from authors and users to administrators and IT staff need to receive hands-on training on how to use the software, manage content, administer users etc. Simply demo’ing the features isn’t enough for users to fully understand how they can use the system for their benefit. That said, a new intranet should be intuitive and simple enough for most users to instinctively grasp the basic functionality.

Authors and content providers need to learn not only how to use a new content management system, but also how to compose the right kind of content. A training plan should contain all roles, what type of training they require and a plan of when it’s delivered and who will deliver it. This plan should contain consistent post-implementation training, and also consider the training of new employees.

10. Keep your content fresh and consistent

An intranet can be the indispensable information pipeline that connects users to all aspects of what’s happening and changing within an organisation. But all the aesthetic design, incorporated feedback, and guidance are worthless if the content isn’t regularly maintained. When content changes aren’t frequent enough, users stop trusting the intranet as a legitimate source of up-to-date information and simply stop using it. Content owners and users must make edits, upload documents, and create new pages to keep an intranet fresh and relevant.

 


 

With so much to consider on this critical topic, it’s no surprise that intranets form a central part of Kademy’s digital learning track. Join a demo or email hello@kademygroup.com to discover how being a Kademy member could set you and your comms team up for success.

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