Planning your new intranet – discovery and stakeholder interviews (video)

In the first of our series on planning your new intranet, John dives into the discovery phase with stakeholder interviews. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more.

John Scott, UX Director
+ 44 20 7471 8500 | [email protected] | LinkedIn

At the start of most intranet projects, we frequently have to do two things. Firstly, we need to find out more about the business and the things people want to fix and challenges they face. But also, we need to get ‘buy-in’ from stakeholders across the business. These are typically the heads of department or leaders in a particular region or country. For any intranet project to succeed, you need to have the support of these key stakeholders. If they are disengaged or don’t see the value in putting time and resources into the project, then this can be a major barrier.

To address this, we normally kick off an intranet project with a discovery workshop that involves these key stakeholders. This not only includes discussion points and us asking questions about the business, but also case studies and research findings that highlight the benefits of intranets, and how they can effectively support a wide range of business activities – from communicating company culture to automating common business processes.

Once stakeholders have seen examples and learned more about what intranets can do, they tend to become more interested in the project as they begin to recognise how it can help them. At this stage we can move on to the interactive part of the workshop where we ask the participants to name anything in the business that they wish that they could fix.

Further in to the project, we have regular touchpoints with them to ensure they continue to be aligned with the general direction of the project and remain willing to committ the time and energy of their teams.

View John’s next video: end-user interviews.
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Santas lists for intranet managers

Santa's list for intranet managers

Retweet Santas lists.

Every organisation definitely gets the intranet it deserves, but do you feel you have the intranet you deserve?

Its not all down to you of course; a great intranet needs decent sponsorship, budget, and an up-to-date strategy among a myriad of other things. Intranet managers are at the centre of a complex web, and need to have a clear vision of what the intranet must achieve and provide for the organisation and everyone within it.

At this time of year, you might be planning a fresh start for your intranet, or at least a fresh approach to how you manage it and involve people in its improvement.

We wish you the very best for the new year, and hope that you get the resources and attention you need to drive those intranet metrics upwards and provide business-critical services.

While bad intranet managers get:

  • instructed to just publish news stories
  • asked to market internal initiatives and report on hits
  • coerced to publish PDFs on the home page
  • directed to promote internal projects after project is complete
  • a static home page dominated by last years financial results
  • discounted for being oblivious to business goals
  • excluded from conversations

Because good intranet managers get:

  • rising stats
  • input to KPIs
  • useful feedback
  • improved engagement
  • consulted by the directors
  • contributions from across the org
  • invitations to project kick-off meetings


Maybe youre very much responsible for all the benefits that an intranet can bestow upon an engaged organisation, or maybe youve suffered the ignominy of being the techy pair of hands used to broadcast announcements – and nothing more. Take a look at Santas lists and see if you recognise his gifts.

Whatever your professional ambitions, we hope Santa brings you exactly what you deserve, and that you can lead your intranet to even greater things in 2016.

Intranet governance teams and responsibilities

Appropriate governance ensures the intranet supports your organisations objectives helping your business do business. Intranet governance lays out how the intranet is managed, how decisions get made, and who is responsible for what.

Great intranet governance also encourages desired behaviours and supports or develops the organisations culture.

As with any plan, its difficult to get things right if your organisation doesnt have clearly stated goals and an actual intranet strategy. Your governance must support both.

Your governance should evolve over time as your intranet develops; its likely that youll even change your governance model as your intranet matures. Take a look at how companies of different sizes choose different governance approaches. Large companies tend to still have a small core team concerned with strategy and publishing standards; publishing and site management responsibilities are distributed to department and team site owners.


LighthouseIts tempting to ask the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to sponsor the intranet, especially if the IT department is paying for the platform or the development work. But stop to consider the objectives of the intranet within the wider digital workplace and within the context of the business.

While a senior leader is needed, do you want the intranet to be seen as an IT initiative? The CTO is always going to be a key stakeholder but, depending on your goals and culture, you might get better buy-in from across the organisation if the sponsor is from within the business. The purpose of your intranet might lead you to a great candidate; are you focusing on comms and content, or employee engagement? If so, consider the Head of Internal Communications and the HR Director. If your organisation is large enough, you may have an Innovation Team or Chief Engagement Officer think about the many purposes of your intranet before inviting a sponsor to lead its use and evolution.

Once youve a sponsor in place, they will want have input to the intranet strategy and monitor its implementation. If the sponsor is also considered an owner of the intranet, then they will also be responsible for setting and releasing budget for management, maintenance, and improvement.

Some organisations give the sponsor more tactical and more managerial tasks, but I think the intranet team should be given room to breathe when it comes to executing the strategy.

Steering team

Some would say that five people is enough for any team that has to make decisions, but the steering team needs representatives from each key business function.

The defined purpose should set the agenda for each, regular meeting. When bigger intranet initiatives are underway, meetings might be more frequent, while during business as usual (BAU) the team might only meet every quarter.

Because the steering team should be accountable for the success of the intranet, it needs authority to make decisions and set / approve the intranet strategy. Steering team members do not have to be experts in intranet platforms, rather, they should understand the organisations direction and needs.

The steering team will want to know whats working and what isnt. The intranet team should provide a report around the intranet key performance indicators (KPIs).

Intranet team

The core team is likely to be only two or three people and there are plenty lone intranet managers out there. Whatever the core intranet team size and skills, always consider the extended team including comms and content contributors, IT support, user experience (UX) support, information security (infosec), and search engine management.

The core team is responsible for implementing the intranet strategy (and possibly drafting it) and managing the intranet in general. Measuring and monitoring is vital if stakeholders are to understand progress and for the team to take remedial action.

When adhering to a centralised publishing model, the core team needs to be larger but with any model, the extended team is crucial.

How will the intranet team field feedback and major requests? Is an advisory team (made up of representative end-users) or is a network of Intranet Champions enough?

Stakeholder management

When setting the duties of your steering team, and considering other stakeholders, keep in mind ARCI:

Having the authority to make decisions and being prepared to take the blame.
Entrusted to implement the strategy in an appropriate manner.
Advisory groups, representatives, and individual stakeholders that input to decisions and plans.
Dont just announce change; share ideas, not just decisions. Share progress and results. Keep your colleagues and every end user involved throughout any initiative or project.


Does something as broad as the intranet (as part of the digital workplace) need a single owner? Is ownership the right term?

Start with your governance model:

Centralised (strong ownership, controlled use)

Collaborative / Federated / Hybrid (guided use from the centre)

Decentralised (shared ownership, distributed responsibilities)

Governance isnt as exciting as rolling out new features in an agile manner, but governance can make or break an intranet. Too many rules and youll never have a social, collaborative digital workspace; too little monitoring and guidance and parts of your intranet will become a Wild West of poorly structured and duplicative information warren while other parts will become wastelands of abandoned document libraries and empty micro-sites.

Redesigning SharePoint for visual impact and usability

Pfizer wanted an intranet site to enable marketing managers to share information, best practices, and digital marketing assets. As the new hub was to be for marketing professionals, the visual design as very important as a way to show the functionality and improve the ease of use.

Our design was to replace two previous SharePoint sites, neither of which were very well used. We knew first impressions mattered with the stakeholders and end-users, but we also had to come to an understanding of marketers needs in such a large organisation.

While you can see the home page design (below), please note the project section and the help section.

Pfizer draft home page

Pfizer draft projectsPfizer draft help

Notice how simple it is to start a new project (and how controlled), and how useful it is to be encouraged to ask questions. We introduced an element of gamification to reward those who asked and answered queries.

Excuse the dummy text in the draft designs we actually worked with existing content so as to properly understand Pfizers needs, hence the Ask us categories that match peoples working areas and real-world concerns.

None of this would have been possible without the user research and agile sprints we developed the end result in collaboration with stakeholders, ensuring that everyone was on-board with the vision, and the implementation.

Of course, while the visual design is distinct (and pleased the marketing people using it), it’s in keeping with Pfizers overall brand guidelines.

Take a look at our recent SharePoint case studies that please the eye.

This isnt all about visual design, but rather, a focus on the functionality of SharePoint along with the usability and user experience. So before you consider an out of the box SharePoint solution on top of your SharePoint installation, talk to us about what can be done with SharePoint in the cloud or on-premises we think we can help you achieve your goals, beautifully.

Wizdom Intranet wins Digital Communications Award with Jyske Banks JB United

During the Digital Communication Awards 2015 held in Berlin recently, Jyske Bank picked up three awards including Best Intranet, beating other organisations such as Deutche Telekom, Microsoft and Philips!


Jyske Bank won the Best Intranet Award for their corporate intranet built on SharePoint intranet-in-a-box solution, Wizdom. Jyske Banks JB United intranet was created to deliver online communications, including news, social and video content. Internal dialogue was boosted by allowing employees to like and comment on all content in the form of text or video. The intranet was also built to be fully responsive giving employees facility to access the content on their tablets and mobiles. All these functionalities and benefits come ‘out-of-the-box’ with Wizdom.

Per Esmann Jensen, the Manager for Online Communications said about the new intranet: With JB United the dialogue on our intranet has increased more than 8-10 times over. This means that the organization is more attached to the intranet than ever. We have moved some of the critical dialogue from the coffee machine to a forum where all the employees can join in and where the management have the possibility to share their opinions. We have often seen that a debate started by an employee turned into a broadcast with participation from management.

Update 19th January 2017:
Content Formula now offer Wizdom as their intranet-in-a-box solution. To find out more visit our Wizdom Intranet page.

How beautiful is your intranet?

Boursin home page v2Most corporate websites, especially those aimed at individual customers, are meticulously designed. No expense is spared in creating an aesthetically pleasing, on-brand experience for site visitors.

However, as with technology, content, and usability – intranets still often lag behind the web in the quality of the graphic design.

How important is the look and feel?

There are some successful intranets out there which are not attractive. From just a quick glance, it’s clear that no visual designer has been anywhere near them. But, they work. They are ‘fit for purpose’. The functional design has been sufficient to create a useful intranet.

There are other intranets which are very pretty, but are not successful. They fail to achieve their objectives.

Does this mean that visual design doesn’t matter – or that it isn’t a deciding factor? No, it does matter and sometimes it can even be a deciding factor.

Why graphic design is an important part of an intranet


Just as decorative design can add unnecessary noise to communication, it can also adversely affect the usability of the site. For example, heavy graphics can reduce the speed of page loads – a massive factor for usability on mobile devices. Poorly planned UI (user interface) elements can confuse and mislead people, creating a frustrating UX (user experience). Often, the quest to make designs ‘unique’ or ‘different’ results in breaking usability conventions too.

Clarity of message

In recent times, design for design’s sake has been stripped away from the best websites. This sort of decorative but purposeless design distracts visitors from the real message that is being communicated. An emphasis should be placed on design which aids the communication of the core messages. Design elements can be used to raise the profile and importance of certain content, and downplay others.


One of the functions of good graphic design is to give visitors an initial level of trust in the site. If people see a poor interface, then they often assume that the functionality, usability, and content of the site will be equally poor. If the design looks modern, professional, and inviting, then they are likely to assume that other aspects of the intranet will meet the same low standards. This is part human psychology, part past experience.

Corporate identity

Although the intranet is internal facing, it should still feel like part of the brand to employees. The company should express its corporate values internally as well as externally, otherwise employees won’t identify with them. It’s important that internal digital communications, or at the very least online media, has been considered and catered for in the brand guidelines. Otherwise the intranet may end up looking like a series of printed brochures, which are non-user-friendly and incredibly difficult to maintain.

When is look and feel the deciding factor?

There are times when the visual design is a factor, but not a decisive one – or even a particularly important one. It depends on the intranet’s objectives and audience.

Imagine an intranet serving a large telesales and customer support team. What they need is an online resource which is extremely fast and easy to navigate so that they can access the information they need whilst on the phone. Is the application of the corporate identity important? No. Does it need to be pretty? No. It needs to be extremely well thought out from an IA perspective, fast, and highly usable. The users of the intranet dont need to be enticed or reassured by attractive design. They desperately need something that just works and is easy to use. Good design is still absolutely required, just not with a focus on the look n feel.

At other times the design can be hugely important. We recently completed a collaboration portal for global brand marketing teams. The site allowed employees to share and discuss market insights and success stories. The project had been attempted before and failed. The old intranet portal failed because it was lacking in usability and function compared to the modern external websites which the marketers were used to.

The new intranet needed to address those failings, but also address the loss of trust in the users. On first visit, it needed to immediately create an emotional response in them by looking and feeling like a modern website. Combined with the fact that the intranet’s audience was marketers who were responsible for guarding brand application across multiple channels, this meant that the look and feel was very important. By making the design really sing, we made them take notice, and spend the time to familiarise themselves with the new features that really helped them to do their jobs.

Content strategy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna

If youre a communicator, youll already have guidelines for article writing, but how do you review existing content on your intranet after years of publishing? The archive is bursting with past events, project sites become out-dated, and company-wide initiative communications become stale. What do you do to root out the rotting content?

ROT is a good acronym Redundant, Out-dated, Trivial. If performing a robust content audit, or a perfunctory review of a project site, ROT can help you categorise the content that needs updating or pruning.

Another way of looking at content is as an asset that needs maintaining, and that needs to work hard and provide a return on the investment that created it. Heres our catchy content tactic guidance to help you remember to get maximum value from your existing material.

Reduce contentReduce publish less, delete some

How bloated is your intranet? Youre publishing news every day, your intranet contributors, project managers, bloggers, team leaders, and change managers are publishing news every day of every week. So your intranet is growing, and only growing. Do you have any policy, and supporting mechanism, to unpublish material?

The first R of our mantra is to refrain from publishing material that could be better communicated in another manner. Perhaps that news update about the cycle to work policy could just be bundled into this months Team Meeting agenda, and the relevant cycling page could be updated. Reduce the amount you publish check the urgency and importance of every comms request that comes across your desk. Be a good editor, understand what people need to know, rather than what certain managers want people to know…

Now, review the content already on your intranet, and delete or archive anything that is redundant or trivial. Be aware that other pages may link to this content, so be sure to do something clever to redirect visitors we do not want to present a page not found error. Check out our review of SharePoint 2016 to find out about a neat feature that can do this for you in the latest SharePoint version.

Reuse contentReuse copy n paste is your friend

Great comms move people to action good content is also modular and reusable. Save yourself time, effort, and money by reusing chunks of content. Why write fresh joining instructions for every event when you can reuse the same text (if the process is identical)?

When writing, think about how others can use your paragraphs. Chunk topics together, use sub-headings throughout your article, and write short sentences.

The same paragraphs can be used on the intranet, in an email newsletter, in the quarterly print newsletter, and on slides. Even if the article itself seems unique, written in a different tone and for slightly different audiences, you can still reuse paragraphs to help maintain consistency of message and reduce your workload.

Recycle contentRecycle format shift to reach a new audience

Similar to Reuse the third R in our mantra is really about upcycling the customising of a thing in such a way as to create something of higher quality or value.

Quotes from employee interviews (perhaps including exit interviews, but also those getting to know you articles) can be used in change management presentations to show current culture and expectations.

PowerPoint presentations can be recycled into narrative articles for the intranet or newsletter, to explain in plain English whats going on. Survey results can form the basis of a suite of engagement articles. Even meeting minutes can be spun into news articles and status reports.

RihannaRihanna does it sparkle?

Ahem. The bottom line is, whats the value of your content, whether its old or fresh? Does your content drive action, bolster engagement, and support your organisations objectives? Is it truly relevant? Further, is it really interesting?  The Health & Safety Manual is relevant, but is it interesting? H&S reports and news can be interesting, but only if you make the effort. Same goes for financial reports. Even change programmes need a bit of Rihannas sparkle to cut through the noise. Whatever you think of Rihanna, shes not dull, and your content neednt be either.

Icons by Milton Raposo C. Rêgo Jr. from the Noun Project.

Photo by DoD News Feature / EJ Hersom.

Whats new for you in SharePoint 2016

DawnYes, SharePoint 2016 will be available on-premises. The recent success of SharePoint Online and Office 365 has shown the power of the cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service), but fears that Microsoft would remove the option to host your own deployment of SharePoint within your own data-centre were unfounded.

Organisations are free to install SharePoint Server 2016 on-premises, in your own offices, or in the cloud with SharePoint Online and, if you have really big needs, you can deploy SharePoint 2016 within Azure Microsofts premium cloud computing platform. You can mix all three hosting platforms to build a hybrid solution that suits, and of course Office 365 works in any configuration.

You can expect better integration with OneDrive for Business, better Team Site integration with Office 365, better extranet capabilities (for working with external partners), and Yammer commenting alongside documents.

Of course the ribbon has been streamlined.

Now, on to the new features!

Yammer and documents

In SharePoint 2016 (or OneDrive for Business), you will finally be able to start a Yammer conversation within a document itself, in order to comment, query, collaborate, and co-write.

Mobile, touch, fluid experiences

Microsoft claims that the redesign now means SharePoint 2016 is markedly improved for devices of any size, including mobile touchscreens. This is welcome news indeed, however, considering the client demands weve helped with in the past, we might expect to continue to design even better mobile experiences for our SharePoint clients.

App launcher

Global navigation aid, allowing you to easily access apps like Yammer, OneDrive, and Delve, whether they are deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Youll be able to pin your favourite sites for quick access too.

Share a page

SharePerhaps taking a leaf from iOS (not really), you can share any page within SharePoint 2016 using the Share button in the top-right corner, and then typing in the names of the people you want to involve. Invited people get an email notification. This is important, as grabbing the long URLs that SharePoint intranets often have from the address bar is not something every end-user feels confident in doing correctly. (Permissions and security are still respected.)

Larger file management

SharePoint isnt just for working on Word documents that get to be a few megabytes in size; storage of large record files, back-ups, even design assets is important to many organisations. So they will be glad to see SharePoint 2016 can now handle files up to 10 Gigabytes. Thats large we cant say how long such a file might take to upload… its all about your network speed, but, SharePoint 2016 offers Background Intelligent Transfer (BITS) which does the uploading in the background, only when bandwidth is available.

Search breadth

The search engine should be able to help you find things no matter whether they are stored in SharePoint on-premises or in the cloud. If youve ever had to search twice for something in the past, this improvement should please.

Whats missing from SharePoint 2013

The free version theres no free version of SharePoint Server 2016 as far as we know. SharePoint Foundation 2013 will remain available and free for those organisations that only need the basics.

Excel Services in SharePoint will be managed by Excel Online, not SharePoint 2016.

Theres no direct upgrade route from SharePoint 2010 to 2016. Unless relying on third-party tools and IT jiggery-pokery, youll want to upgrade to 2013 for a day, and then to 2016.

If you want to discuss SharePoint 2016 in more detail or if you simply want to know how SharePoint can serve your organisation, get in touch to have a chat with one of our SharePoint consultants.

Using email newsletters to improve internal communications and drive traffic to your intranet

e-newsletterWhen it comes to group and mass communication, the intranet and email are the two dominant channels, and both evoke strong feelings from people whove had poor experiences.

Poor experience? I didnt know it was on the intranet and I get too many long emails.

Well designed email newsletters can drive interest in the intranet and reduce email overload.

Email is not dead

As much as we must focus on new ways of working, and use the appropriate channel / tool for the job, email is not dead, nor hated by everyone.

Reducing email overload while increasing awareness, involvement, and engagement can delight your stakeholders and audiences if you can demonstrate impact. To get the right metrics, you need more than Microsoft Outlook.

Your e-newsletters can drive intranet use, and publishing urgent and important updates on your intranet can help develop trust (helping people expect valuable content on the intranet). Different people prefer and rely on different channels; make holistic use of your channels to reach more people.

Reduce email overload with aggregate e-newsletters

Good communication is about the quality and the quantity. Employee engagement is going to go down if every day is a battle with their inbox. Reducing the number of emails a person receives through the month can increase their perception of the quality of your comms.

The idea is to set a schedule for your regular mail-shot, and restrict the number of topics within each e-newsletter. As a channel manager, youre already used to maintaining a pipeline or news schedule; this is no different.

The hard part is involving all the stakeholders who believe their news is urgent and important. Governance has to be set to stop individual organisation-wide projects, programmes, and initiatives from emailing every employee.

Your newsletter can work hand in hand with your intranet. If a stakeholder insists that their news is urgent and important, assure them that it can go on the intranet asap, and appear in the next e-newsletter (or the one after). Explain that people often need more than one opportunity to see a piece of news, so staggered, repeated communication can be great.

The governance that stops certain stakeholders from emailing every employee does not stop projects, programmes, and initiatives from publishing news on their own intranet sites and offering subscriptions. Subscriptions allow employees to opt-in to notifications when something new is published.

For a valuable internal e-newsletter:

  • Design the layout to be on-brand, distinctive, and clear;
  • Optimise and test your email so that it works well and looks good across desktop, tablet and smartphones;
  • Stick to a schedule gather content in advance (the aim is to aggregate news into one e-newsletter, rather than allow multiple dull emails to be sent);
  • Set org-wide governance so that project communicators and change initiative comms people know not to develop yet another e-newsletter or email campaign;
  • Craft meaningful headlines and summaries;
  • Use multimedia pictures and videos (pictures of people are great for piquing interest and encouraging clicks);
  • Link to new and existing content on the intranet dont rely on publishing articles wholly within your newsletter;
  • Measure open-rates, and click-through rates so you know what content was of interest;
  • Accept replies! Encourage people to respond pass on feedback to the relevant person.

Dont send using Outlook

If youre laying out and sending mass emails in Outlook, you will struggle to measure results. Read receipts wont provide an accurate open rate as so many people turn them off. You wont know what content within your email piqued peoples interest, unless you dive into your intranet metrics and look for traffic spikes around the time of your email.

For organisation wide emails, the look n feel of your emails has to be on-brand and distinct from all the project and programme emails that others send. Standard Outlook emails arent going to help your news stand out. You either need decent templates, or a separate email system.


We work with some clients who have developed their own solution, allowing them to drag n drop content blocks from SharePoint into their email template.

But we also work for clients using Campaign Monitor; we literally plan, write, send, and monitor internal communications with and on behalf of our clients.

You might prefer to use MailChimp or Newsweaver.

Managing your list of employees within such an email solution can be a task and a half, and thats on top of managing your content pipeline. If we can help, give us a shout.


Now, the big question: do you allow employees to unsubscribe from your weekly corporate e-newsletter?

If you want help with your email newsletter or any other aspect of your intranet and internal communications, its like we can help. Visit our intranet and SharePoint services page to find out how we can help.

SharePoint user adoption tactics

Planning meetingLaunch of any new system or process can be a huge effort, as we discussed in our previous article about big bang intranet launches. Once youve launched SharePoint intranet, youre bound to see a lot of people trying to figure out how to make best use of its many features. These high levels of attention wont last.

The curious but conservative will return to previous systems, like email, and the interested but untrained will find their every task and interaction with SharePoint to be frustrating.

SharePoint roll out isnt about the technology, or the new features; its about change, communications, engagement, and new ways of working. It is, succinctly, about people, and your organisations goals.

Lets take a look at some adoption tactics you can use to make your SharePoint roll-out a success.

Adoption tactics

Review these practical ideas and decide which match your needs.

User research

Nobody should design and build any kind of platform or service without diving into the user experience and doing copious user research.

But beyond the incredible value of such research, you can also treat every interaction with colleagues as an engagement activity. Every survey, every interview, every real-life or online exercise is an opportunity to explain the vision for and how SharePoint will meet peoples needs.

Someone who has been involved with research is likely to feel more enthusiastic about the intranet, and talk about the research with colleagues, helping to create further awareness.

Stakeholder mapping

There are different kinds of stakeholders not every stakeholder is a decision maker. That said, you should still understand the needs and expectations of stakeholders. This could be about creating accurate personas and / or developing use case narratives that show what your colleagues do in their work, and what they need from your collaboration platform.

Many developers and UX practitioners write their stakeholder mapping notes privately, because such notes may contain personal observations about specific individuals. Stakeholder mapping can include logging an individual stakeholders attitude regarding the vision and purpose of your SharePoint implementation, so that you can adapt your approach when asking them for support. These kinds of notes are the dirty secret of stakeholder management.

The sponsor show and tell sessions

Assuming you have a sponsor from the leadership team (perhaps the HR director, rather than the IT director or CIO) youll want to involve them in your pre and post-launch communications.

Rather than only relying on intranet articles and newsletters from them, consider running several show n tell sessions around your organisation, inviting stakeholders and end-users from different departments, and ensuring invitees know the sponsor will be present.

Authors, contributors, content and site owners

Even if your intranet governance is heavily centralised, you will still need competent site owners for the many collaboration Team Sites and even for Yammer Groups maybe.

If your governance model is collaborative or decentralised, then you may well have hundreds of authorised contributors. Be clear about who owns what on the intranet and provide support to owners and contributors by publsihing guides, tips, and examples of good practice. Explain roles and responsibilities, and provide regular training sessions through the year.


Finding, engaging, and training authors and site owners should not be seen as an onerous process to get through as quickly as possible, but as an opportunity to build on-going relationships. Rather than automate the process (providing online guides etc.), have such contributors develop their skills and knowledge within a dedicated Team Site. Youre now a community manager, able to support peer-to-peer learning, and you can communicate progress and changes effectively. Use SharePoint and Yammer to engage your contributors; dont revert to email.

Share progress

Run a pre- and post-launch blog, to keep everyone involved and interested. Blog articles can show progress, share challenges, and explain how and why tough decisions were made. Your SharePoint project is not a secret its a business led improvement programme, and progress should be shared.

Your network of contributors should be kept in the loop and completely involved with your launch communications.


Hold workshops across your organisation for contributors and champions. Ostensibly, its about classroom training, but in the early stages its about engagement and explaining the vision and purpose of the intranet, and presenting how features will work.

Training for site owners and content contributors

First theres the governance and administration of team sites, and all the buttons, processes, workflows, and configuration that SharePoint needs.

Then theres how best to use the functionality of SharePoint and how to write material that suits readers.

Many people will feel more confident once theyve had some real-life mentoring or training, even if you provide how to guides online. Content owners and contributors may well need training in order to become competent.

Manage the community

Have a central person for contributors to contact. If youre the sole intranet manager, this may well be you! As a community manager (supporting contributors) youll want to be available for any query. Help contributors rely on their dedicated Team Site or Yammer Group dont simply respond to emails, but take questions and answer them online, so that everyone benefits and can continue the discussion.

Offline comms

Naturally enough, a great deal of intranet news is communicated via the intranet. But to reach field workers, engineers, and customer service people, various channels are needed.

Consider print materials and desk drops explain key benefits, and how to contact the comms team / the intranet manager. Consider mouse mats and pens if appropriate to your org culture; some people see squeezy stress-relievers as gimmicky, others appreciate the token of a tiny box of chocs.

Identify resistance

Focus your initial engagement efforts on the people who are unsure of the benefits of new ways of working, but open to getting involved. Dont (yet) engage those who appear to be dead set against change or anything social or online. Embrace early adopters, but work closely with those who are ready for SharePoint but unsure where to start.

Once youve gained a critical mass of users, it will then be time to develop tactics to reach sceptics, ultra-conservatives, and general laggards.

On-going training

Dont only provide classroom and online training at launch; new people will join your organisation and your community of contributors. As new starters come in, arrange for the right level of SharePoint training as soon as their account has been set up. Consider putting links to intranet training and support materials in a prominent place weve come across some intranets where they opt to put it as a primary item on the main navbar.

Dont turn every feature on

Its tempting to launch with a big bang, showcasing every feature, every whistle, every bell. SharePoint is a big system; beyond the home page and department team sites, theres a lot going on. While youve spent six months planning and learning, many of your colleagues will feel overwhelmed by all the features of SharePoint 2013 or SharePoint Online.

Seeing as every feature should meet a business need, ensure the functionality you launch with matches your stakeholder expectations, and that end-users have been briefed and involved with the design of any new ways of working.

If a feature isnt absolutely needed at launch, consider only turning it on a few weeks later. This drip feed of functionality will demonstrate that youre continuously improving the intranet and in control of the roll out. Many organisations launch SharePoint with Yammer, but you can roll out and integrate Yammer later.


Whenever you enable a new feature, be sure to communicate its purpose and how people might use it. Over months, share tips and examples of how colleagues are using SharePoint features, highlighting the end result.

SharePoint isnt one single thing people experience it differently depending on their role and needs. Highlight the functionality and the many different use cases throughout the year, encourage questions, and dont be afraid to repeat messages over time.

Leader boards

Publish details and stats about the most read articles each month. Perhaps split the leader board up to show reference articles and blog articles separately. Departments should be interested in what material people are making use of, and individual bloggers will be pleased to see their work is appreciated. (Blogs are a great way to share expertise, and guidance for the many systems and processes your organisation uses).

Beyond leader boards, share relevant stats with your community of contributors.


What tactics have you used to support your adoption strategy?

Whether youre a proponent of Kotters approach to change, or a fan of the Kubler-Ross change curve, the Rogers technology adoption lifecycle, or Downes and Nunes shark fin model, youll want to have a pre, post, and on-going adoption strategy.

What tactics have you used to support adoption? What should be on this list? Please let us know in the comments section.

Photo credit: Montgomery County Planning

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