Whether you’re looking to resuscitate yours, launch a new one, or decide if it’s time to pull the plug, this guide is designed to quickly show you two things:
- Where your organization is at in the intranet lifecycle.
- What you can do next.
The three acts
Like a good play, there are three “acts” to your intranet lifecycle:
- Pre-launch: This includes researching what your organization needs, what tools are available, vetting vendors, and testing.
- Launch: This includes the first day of go-live with a non-test audience. Everything is rolling out now. Cue the trumpets!
- Maintenance: This includes everything you need to do to make sure the site stays alive. Updating content, moderation, holding people to the site’s governance, onboarding new site admins/community managers after turnover, adapting the site structure to any significant organizational changes, and addressing any day-to-day bugs or user issues that come up.
Within each “act” is one or more stages. Launch is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re in this stage you’re probably executing on internal promotion, answering questions for new users, and are generally too busy to browse this site. Let’s focus on the other two stages:
As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a critical stage in preparing your organization for the tool(s) and vice versa. Some key elements include:
- Identifying technical requirements and timeline.
- Coordinating test users and other stakeholders to ensure timely feedback.
- Connecting with leadership to create any needed learning materials for employees.
- Working with test users to create community and content governance for standard and admin users.
- Identifying influencers and content owners.
- Developing a communications plan for internal promotion of tool.
Maintenance is what leads to the maturity of your site. It’s one thing to create a big splashy entrance that invites everyone to jump in and start posting or relying on a tool. Just because you’re launched, doesn’t mean you’re done. Long-term ownership of the tool includes all of the below, and more!
- Addressing any feedback and requests for features
- Providing technical support (e.g. addressing bugs, adding integrations)
- Providing user support (e.g. how to use the tool)
- Executing on the long-term content strategy
- Training new users and/or new admin users
- Ensuring new content complies with governance
- Adapting the tool to meet changing organizational needs
What to do next
There are many good intranet checklists to help organizations prepare for new tools. For example, this one helps the IT team think through technical implementation, while this one helps organizations think about the content side of things.
The best thing you can do is find a project manager to support the process properly. Maybe it’s someone in IT, maybe it’s someone in HR, maybe it’s you. It doesn’t matter as long as there is someone on the hook to make sure that the right people are engaged along the way (and that the project is seen through properly). Those checklists above are pretty common: focused on either content or technology, but rarely do they address the overall integration of the two. It’s important to have someone to bring all aspects together.
If you’re in maintenance mode, the next steps depend entirely on how your organization is handling it. Here are some questions to get you thinking:
- Who owns the intranet technology?
- Who owns the content in the intranet? (If it’s multiple people, who will train them all?)
- Who is monitoring it to make sure the governance is adhered to?
- What happens if somebody posts inappropriate content?
- How do content owners know to review their content to keep it up-to-date?
- What happens if the information is outdated?
If you don’t have governance before launch, you’ll find you need it pretty quickly. Governance addresses all of the above. While it’s much easier to introduce rules at the beginning of the game, it’s never too late to create them. Google is your friend here; all the intranet vendors have their version of governance. Or you can just answer the questions above and go from there.
Most importantly, make sure to provide some sort of formal feedback loop, so that your employees have a place to report bugs or offer suggestions. If you don’t, the project manager (probably you) will turn into that feedback loop pretty quickly.