When planning a new intranet, it’s critical to undertake a detailed discovery phase which incorporates user research and stakeholder interviews. This establishes a strong understanding of employee and organisational needs and ensures that your intranet is sustainable going forward.
At Content Formula, we conduct a discovery phases as standard before we undertake most intranet projects. This ensures that the intranets we build deliver on the specific business and user objectives, establishes successfully employee adoption and delivers tangible value.
The intranet discovery phase usually consists of four fundermental goals:
- Define the nature of the business and its existing technology systems.
- Identify current pain points, challenges and things people want to fix.
- Identify key opportunities where the intranet can add value to the business.
- Attain ‘buy-in’ from stakeholders across the business.
For any intranet project to succeed, it is important to have the support of key stakeholders, These are typically the heads of department or leaders in a particular region or country.
A discovery phase can be a great way to encourage involvement and demonstrate to stakeholders what intranets can do and how they can benefit their organisation.
At Content Formula, we advocate a user centred approach and involve users in all stages of a project.
At the discovery stage, we carry out a number of interviews that involve coordinating ten to twenty different people across the organisation who represent a good cross section of levels of seniority, different departments, regions or countries.
The aim of the interviews is to discover more about peoples roles within an organisation, the information they need access to, who they talk to, there pain-points and any improvements they feel could benefit their roles and the organisation.
The interviews help us to develop personas that represent the typical users across the business. This helps us to then create solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of the end-users.
A discovery phase incorporating user research and stakeholder interviews is critical for a number of reasons.
A successful intranet is always based on a good understanding of the needs it is trying to address and the benefits it is bringing to the organisation.
To fully understand employee pain points and informational needs, undertaking research is crucial.
Talking to stakeholders from key functions such as HR and IT is also essential to understand the strategic objectives from across the business where the intranet can add value.
When you have this understanding, you can derive an intranet strategy and design that is focused on what is both important to employees and the organisation.
The discovery phase produces many insights which can be drawn upon for the next stage of your project including:
- Defining your functional and non-functional requirements, and prioritising features.
- Making the business case for investment.
- Evaluating any products required such as an “in-a-box” intranet software.
- Defining whether any customisation of SharePoint Online is required.
- Working out the Adoption and Change Management (ACM) plan.
- Working on designs.
Intranet projects involve a wide variety of different stakeholders and departments and it is imperative to seek alignment and consensus for the implementation to be successful.
An intranet based on a discovery project that incorporates the views of stakeholders, and justifies intranet features and requirements through user research is far more likely to get consensus, especially as there is a convincing rationale for the intranet scope.
When you involve users in research and the discovery phase, it can help them to feel engaged and invested within the project. They may even want to be involved in later stages, for example in giving feedback on designs, participating in user acceptance testing, or even being an intranet “champion” involved in the launch.
When users feel involved and that their input is valued within an intranet project, they are likely to also feel motivated to use it.
Sometime insights from the discovery phase (particularly if you are gathering data from a survey), can provide baseline information to establish KPIs so you can track progress later down the line, and assess success.
A new intranet is rarely finished and the discovery phase will almost certainly suggest features that can be incorporated into your backlog and future roadmap.
User research and interviews
We will undertake research and carry out interviews, to identify areas in which we can tailor the technology to meet the needs of the end-users.
We will undertake research and interviews with a cross-section of your workforce that are representative of the different groups of users throughout your organisation.
This information is then used to help design an intranet solution that is going to provide value for everybody, for example both knowledge workers and frontline staff.
User research typically incorporates: one-on-one interviews with employees, user workshops with different groups, on-site observations and sometimes user surveys to collect any additional information.
Analysis and report
We will analyse the data and write it up into a comprehensive discovery report. This will then be presented to your team and stakeholders in an interactive sessions.
Once we have collected the data, our discovery team will spend time analysing the information, before putting together a recommendations for the new intranet.
We will package this up into a helpful discovery report that covers areas such as:
• Overview of the discovery process
• User frustrations and pain points
• Trends and user patterns
• Feedback and ideas
• Other details associated with the recommendations, such as a suggestion for the information architecture for the intranet, digital workplace, governance and more.
We will carry out stakeholder interviews and provide workshops to encourage involvement and demonstrate how the technology can benefit their organisation.
We schedule one-on-one interviews with senior stakeholders from relevant functions such as Communications, IT, HR, Knowledge, Leadership and Lines of Business.
In the interviews we will seek to understand their thoughts on the current intranet, the strategic objectives relating to their function that the new intranet needs to deliver and any dependencies the new intranet may have.
From these interviews we can understand the strategic and practical context at an organisational, functional and departmental level for the new intranet.
Areas for further discovery
Sometimes a discovery report can highlight areas where further research or clarification might be required, depending on the nature of your organisation and intranet project.
Sometimes the Microsoft 365 and SharePoint landscape at an organisation can be complex. If your in-house IT function require additional technical assistance or more background is needed to ascertain infrastructure and technical requirements relating to your new intranet, we may recommend an additional technical review.
Organisations with complex and diverse workforces may have groups with very different information and communication needs. We may recommend creating personas that profile the characteristics of your major user groups which can then be used to inform the intranet design.
Heuristic research and review
We will review your existing solutions and any planning or research documentation already in place.
Our UX team will undertake a detailed heuristic review of your current intranet covering design, usability, features, content and more.
This can then be used to understand how employees are currently using the existing intranet and highlight the pain points, what is missing and what is working well.
We may also ask for additional data such as detailed metrics covering existing intranet use, any existing user research that may have been carried out and any documentation detailing relevant strategies.
Find out more about our discovery services
Request a call back with one of our intranet experts, for a free consultation.
After the discovery report has been reported back to teams and fully digested, it then acts as a constant reference source throughout the intranet project to inform strategy, business case, design, change management plan and more. Even after launch, it is also a very useful information source.
Content Formula’s discovery phase and report has consistently received great feedback from clients. If you’d like more information about discovery, user research and stakeholder interviews, then get in touch.
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