August 8, 2017
From Business Case to Project: Implementing Your Intranet

You've decided you need a central hub for your employees, a place where they can go to read everything that's happening in the company, get access to tools and content they need to do their jobs, and a place where they can communicate and collaborate with their teammates and the rest of the company. This central hub is your Intranet. The easy part is deciding you need one, now the work begins to get it implemented.

Developing the Business Case

You need to demonstrate to the C-suite that an Intranet is an important element of your employee experience. They will have to buy into the project to provide funding and the necessary support to pull together the right resources to get the work done.

An Intranet is about effective communication and improved productivity.

How do you show that? What types of things can you show management that proves the need for an Intranet? Here are a few:

  • How many different applications do employees access with different links and passwords? Show them how you can make all those applications link directly from the Intranet with a single sign on.
  • How much time is HR spending just responding to request for forms and timesheet information? Show how you can provide HR a section on the Intranet where they would place all their forms, along with instructions for using them. You can also link to HR apps like time tracking and also have instructions available for using it.
  • How many emails is your communications team sending out each week to alert employees of news and events in the company? Show how you can stop filling inboxes with a news and events section on the Intranet, including a featured News or Event option that brings important information directly to the top of the list.
  • If you have a work from home program, show how employees can keep in touch with what's happening with the company and have a single point of access to key information, forms and applications.

What you are looking for are ways to demonstrate that an Intranet improves communication, invites conversation and collaboration and supports employees no matter where they work. Intranets improve communication, productivity and can reduce costs associated with time spent on support or switching between systems.

Putting Together the Project Team 

With approval obtained, you need to put together a team that ensures your Intranet will satisfy as many needs as possible across the organization. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a sponsor in the C-suite who can cut through red tape and will advocate on your project's behalf to ensure you get the people and support you need to get the project completed.
  • A project manager is obvious, as is a project coordinator if your company is very large and your Intranet project will involve many people.
  • IT involvement is critical, to help decide what vendor solution to use and to ensure it will provide the needed capabilities of your users, including security requirements, integration requirements, and functionality. This is typically a functional application analyst or architect, a technical architect, and a lead developer.
  • At least one representative from each core department in your company. For example, a representative from HR, Finance, IT (separate from your Architect mentioned above), and from each business unit. It's important to ensure that every group has a voice and can present their requirements and have a say in how the Intranet is built. Engagement from the business units ensures your employees will use the Intranet because their needs will be addressed.
  • It's not necessary, but consider having an external consultant on your team that isn't committed to a department or business unit. This consultant would have experience implementing Intranets and can provide best practices advice, help mediate discussions and have a general view of the solution providers in the market that might be a good fit.

Gathering All Your Requirements

You have an official project and a project team. Now it's time to nail down the requirements. And there will be many requirements from each business unit. Most likely, too many. But the first step is to document as much as you can.

Many companies implement Intranets in a series of releases, each one building on what came before. Once you have your big bucket of requirements, it's time to get real and figure out what you can do in your first release. There will be requirements that you absolutely must do and requirements you will mark as high priority. There will also be some quick and easy wins that you'll want to include that will help ensure your employees will use the Intranet.

Divide your requirements into phases, keeping in mind the balance you'll need to keep between ensuring you deliver the most important things first and the capabilities each business unit needs to support their groups. 

Building the Intranet

With business requirements defined, start mapping out your functional requirements. This is where the IT team plays a critical role. Your Functional Analyst will translate business requirements into functional requirements. Your architect or developer will outline the technical requirements for the Intranet, including infrastructure needs, or if you are considering a cloud-based solution, what you expect from a managed Intranet provider.

Use these business, functional and technical requirements, along with your suggested release phases to review and select the right Intranet solution.

Once your Intranet solution is selected, it's time to start building. The first part is mapping your functional requirements against the selected solution. It's unlikely to be a perfect match in all cases, so you'll have to consider adjusting your requirements, or plan for customization.

After you've completed a final technical and functional specification against the selected Intranet solution, your development team (which may include developers from the vendor or an integration partner) can start building the Intranet. 

Launch Day 

Launch day is always exciting. But just before you get to that exciting, and nerve racking point, here are a few things you should do to ensure you are prepared:

  • Train your administrators to use the Intranet. Administrators include the employees from each business unit who will be responsible for the content on the Intranet. Ensure the Intranet is preloaded with content. (Check out our Guide to Content Migration to give you some ideas on migrating content from an old Intranet if you have had one).
  • Do some pre-launch communications. You want to make a big deal of your new Intranet to encourage its usage. Have your communications team prepare some emails, posters and other communications to let employees know it's coming and what they can expect. Also, consider having one or more company meetings where you can show off the Intranet just before its official launch.

It Doesn't End There

Launching an Intranet is exciting, but the work is not over once you go live. You need to think of your Intranet as a constantly evolving focal point for your organization. You should be monitoring Intranet usage on a regular basis and reporting on who's most active, what areas aren't getting as much usage, as well as what new features or functionality your employees might be asking for. 

Schedule a regular full team meeting – monthly or quarterly – to review activity and discuss requests for new features and functionality. You can also brainstorm ways to get employees using features that you know they can benefit from using, but aren't currently active. Similar to how you manage your website, you need a Digital MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) plan for your Intranet. 

Posted by David Hillis
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