Have you got an up-to-date and documented intranet strategy? And by that we mean a proper intranet strategy that has been researched, well thought out and signed off by key stakeholders.
We’ll bet that in most organisations the answer is no. Surprisingly, many intranet teams don’t even develop a proper intranet strategy before they make their decision to buy an intranet-in-a-box like Wizdom or intranet content management system (CMS).
That’s a risky route. You’ll be investing money in an intranet and running a project that:
- May not really meet the needs of all your users
- Isn’t aligned to wider company objectives or those of senior stakeholders
- May be difficult to manage or successfully drive adoption
With a solid intranet strategy in place, you’ll be making a genuinely informed buying decision. For example there are many intranet-in-a-box solutions out there. How do you know which one is going to be best for your organisation?
We are often asked to help clients with an intranet strategy or carry out user research which can help them answer all the questions that need to be answered before they commit to a solution.
Buying the right software means you can deliver value to individuals and your organisation, and ensure your intranet is successful and sustainable. Ultimately you’re more likely to achieve a better level of ROI.
Intranet strategy needs a discovery phase
A good intranet strategy is based on a thorough understanding of your users and your organisation.
You need to really get under the skin of how users work. That usually means a detailed “discovery phase” where you should:
- gather intranet and related statistics such as email usage
- run focus groups and interviews
- carry out an intranet satisfaction survey
- observe users at work and so on.
This discovery phase also also needs to ensure you understand the views of your key stakeholders. In our post on getting management buy-in we suggested carrying out interviews or running a workshop. This can be part of the research process for your strategy.
You also need to ensure the strategy is aligned to your core company strategy and sub-strategies such as IT, internal communications, digital and change initiatives. You’ll also need to be in sync with your IT roadmap and potentially the Microsoft product roadmap, if you’re going down the Office 365 route.
Finally a discovery phase should also be informed by what’s happening in the market and what other organisations are doing in this area. There are articles, publications, case studies and networking opportunities which show where intranets are heading and what is possible to achieve.
What should your strategy include?
An intranet strategy can vary from organisation to organisation and may be dictated by a standard format in use. However, the successful ones we have seen, include:
- A mission or vision statement which is clearly aligned to company strategy
- Key objectives and benefits
- A diagnosis of what’s wrong with the current intranet or related platform
- High level characteristics of what your intranet needs to deliver
- Tactics for delivering the project
- A high-level roadmap or action plan
Seven reasons for developing an intranet strategy
Here are some key reasons for making the effort to develop an intranet strategy.
1) Help you choose the right CMS or intranet-in-a-box product
There is a bewildering choice of intranet and digital workplace products out there. And the number is growing.
Having a strategy can help you to define the critical characteristics of a solution which need to be in place to deliver value and drive adoption. Not every solution is right for every organisation, so work out your strategy and find the CMS which is the best fit for you.
2) Making a convincing business case
Having a strategy which is signed off by your stakeholders, and is then reflected in the business case, means that you already have consensus and engagement from stakeholders before you submit it. A business case based on real data is also more credible.
We believe a business case which emerges from a strategy has more chance of success.
3) Aligns your project to business objectives
Some less successful intranet projects can either be too technology-focused or too centred on internal communications. An intranet based on a proper strategy firmly establishes wider business objectives. It’s more likely to have a wider impact and achieve better ROI.
4) Everyone on the same page
Intranets have multiple capabilities, are used for many processes and involve a diverse group of stakeholders. A strategy helps everybody who is involved across your organisation to work from the same page. That’s important for the success of your project and can also help avoid misunderstandings.
5) Aligns your project to other roadmaps
We’ve seen far too many projects where an intranet is being introduced despite the roadmap for other systems pulling in a different direction. A good intranet strategy aligns your project to other roadmaps such as IT, digital or HR. This can result in savings by avoiding duplication and even a more integrated experience for users further down the line.
6) Makes adoption more likely
An intranet based on a strategy which truly understands employee needs and behaviour means it is more likely to be used. Designing an intranet based on the way employees work and for common, everyday scenarios is a great starting point for driving adoption.
7) Reduces risk of failure
An intranet without a strategy is directionless and has a higher risk of failing. One that has a clear aim and plan is more likely to succeed.
Make time to make a strategy
Believe us, it’s worth it. Spend some time to make an intranet strategy so you can make an informed choice on your CMS. And if you need help in this area, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
An intranet is a strategic investment which can deliver some fantastic benefits to employees, teams and organisations. Make a considered choice based on a validated strategy signed off by key stakeholders.