Lessons from your mistakes or mistakes committed by others and your successes and experiences are the best ways to learn. Along the way, I must admit we have made a few mistakes but have also enjoyed much more successes.
Having been involved in some of the most content and collaboration projects previously, it has given me the exposure needed to determine what would work or fail in an intranet project. Based on my own experience, here’s a list of the eleven lessons I’ve learned to save you from future headaches when you implement your intranet.
#1 Understand your primary purpose
Define the goal you want to achieve from implementing your intranet, and it will dictate the fundamental reason and vision for the project. Is it intended to improve communications and collaboration? Is it meant to streamline content and task management? Is it expected to speed up and improve process workflows? Or is it meant to make insights readily accessible? Whatever your purpose is, you will likely require a blended solution to serve those various purposes.
#2 Understand the platform’s capabilities
Todays’ platforms offer a far more advanced, dynamic and collaborative digital workplace experience so don’t base your ideas on what your last intranet could do. Explore and understand what’s possible with the new platform before you begin.
#3 Involve your users and seek their feedback
Executives work differently to the rest of the staff – they have different collaboration and process requirements so make sure you consider everyone’s needs when planning. Seek feedback and input on requirements from staff as well as management.
#4 Think Modern
By the time you get a budget, decide on a solution, execute the implementation and manage the change, it will be a long time before you transform your Intranet again. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “baby steps” and that your organisation is more conservative than everyone else’s, that only propagates that culture. Think modern, think mobile, believe in innovation. Shoot for the moon and you’ll likely hit the stars.
#5 Plan a long-term vision
Plan for the future, even if you execute the short term needs first. This will create greater excitement and engagement from all those involved, and continuous results will be achieved. There is nothing worse than a static and stale content platform.
#6 Remember it’s your project
Consultants provide the guidance, insights to what’s possible, and the hands-on skill to configure. You provide the wants, the content, and the ability to coordinate your people. There will be work for you to do to get the new platform running so make time for it.
#7 Define ownership of the platform
Most companies will assign the overall ownership to IT but they do not have the sole skills to keep contents updated so it should be a shared responsibility across the business. Establish a clear governance model to determine the overall ownership of the site including the roles and responsibilities of contributors, decision-making process and policies and standards that apply so everyone is guided in using the intranet.
#8 Prepare a perpetual training resource
We’ve all been there. Organised a training session for our teams, only to need to re-train new employees throughout the year.
Start saving yourself time (and money) by thinking digital across your workplace! Digital content such as slide decks or recorded training sessions can be saved in your intranet’s home site or training site. This way, you create on-demand training materials for employees, accessible anytime they need it.
#9 Actively manage change
Change fast, change strong, lead change from the top down. If you’re using document management – don’t accept attachments in an email. If people share knowledge in email – ask them to post on a newsfeed. If people ask where to find something – direct them to Search. If people are having a phone conference – encourage an online meeting with the video turned on. Change doesn’t happen at a point in time, but over time and it needs your support.
#10 Engage a continuous optimisation plan
Monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly optimisation days with a consultant who can help you work better will keep the platform evolving and the user experience improving.
#11 Good design matters
Every successful intranet has users adopting it as part of the systems they regularly use. A good intranet design not only personifies the unique identity of your brand, but it also enhances user experience and promotes user adoption. Do not make the mistake of setting it aside as part of your deployment plan.
Learn from these lessons
These are just some of the things we’ve learned along the way from deploying intranets successfully. Have you implemented SharePoint in your organisation? If you did, leave a comment on your biggest takeaways from your experience.
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