There are a plethora of things to think about when deploying a modern intranet. How do you actually launch an intranet? How do you design it so it adds value? Who should be in the project team? Who should be the business sponsor? And how do you get your employees to use it once it’s launched?
While there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, there is now a body of best practice that has emerged through the experiences of many intranet teams who have successfully launched their own social intranet.
It’s critical to do a little groundwork before you actually start building your social intranet. In this post, we’re going to cover some of the actions to take in preparing the foundations of a highly successful and impactful social intranet.
1. Have a vision for your social intranet
Knowing the most important thing you want your intranet to achieve is key to success. Your vision should help you to create a design that will best achieve your goals and prioritize selected features. It will also help keep the project team focused on what they need to do, as well as ensure all future changes are relevant.
Most social intranets have a mission statement. For example, it might be something like, “our intranet will be the place where all employees communicate, collaborate and connect, to improve customer service excellence, drive innovation and become one company worldwide.”
Your vision will also need a little more flesh on the bones. What are the outcomes you’d like to see? Are there any KPIs that might happen? What is the timescale for your vision? How will it change the working day of a typical employee? The more detail you have on your vision, the more you can design your social intranet to try and achieve it.
2. Involve key stakeholders
This stakeholder group should include the departments likely to take responsibility for the intranet after its launch, such as IT, HR or Internal Communications. It should also include the different lines of business and other ‘operational’ parts of your organization.
Don’t forget to include your senior leaders. It’s vital to get their input, endorsement, and engagement.
3. Establish ownership and sponsorship
Establish the named individuals who have the mandate and responsibility to create the social intranet and make it succeed.
Ideally, the owner should be a person at C-suite level who is responsible for the department that will deliver the project. Perhaps this is the Head of HR or the CIO. Sometimes ownership is divided, with IT owning the technical aspects (e.g. software, infrastructure) and Internal Communications or HR owning the content and design.
The sponsor or ‘champion’ is normally a figurehead who is there to promote the intranet, communicate its benefits and be an advocate for the new platform. They should be senior and respected, believe passionately in the intranet’s possibilities and be able to commit time to communicate its potential.
Sometimes the champion is the same person as the owner, while at other times it is a person from a core business area rather than a support function. Basically the more senior the better; the champion could even be your CEO!
4. Get senior management comfortable with the social intranet
Research and case studies consistently show that a senior management team visibly participating in the social intranet helps drive adoption. Getting them comfortable with your new intranet will make implementation smoother and result in longer-term benefits.
5. Address risks early
Before you start on your social intranet implementation you also need to engage with those responsible for security, risk, legal aspects and compliance in your organization.
You will need to engage with IT to make sure they are entirely happy with all security aspects of your intranet. They are likely to want to carry out some form of due diligence, which may be a standard process for all software or cloud-based applications.
Additionally, you will need to speak to your legal and risk department. They will cover any compliance issues and may also focus on creating a usage policy for participating in the social intranet (we’ll be covering this in more detail in a later post).
6. Create a cross-functional core project team
If you were able to get cross-functional support and consensus from senior leaders during your early planning stage, it will be easier now to bring together to complete the final phase of planning, which is creating a cross-functional project team to build and promote the new intranet. You’ll get varied perspectives on the project, access to a broader range of skills, and greater buy-in from multiple departments.
Once you’ve been able to implement these 6 steps, you’ll be ready for our next post on social intranet deployment best practices. Be sure to read our next blog post in our Best Practices series: Best Practices: Intranet Deployment – Part 2 of 3