Implementing an Intranet is very different from your external website. After over 300 implementations of our SP Intranet Portal, we have gained some insight on success factors. With an Intranet, there should never be an emphasis on marketing, PR, and over glorious graphics. Its mission is much different, to facilitate the quickest possible access to information, collaboration and tools to help your employees do their job.
As we have covered in previous articles in this series, a successful Intranet implementation may start with the right technology platform (example: Office 365) and the right structural design, but its ongoing success relies on a commitment from the organization for staff resources to keep it running. In small to medium businesses this can be a challenge. These organizations do not have the budgets or staff available to commit exclusively to the Intranet.
To realize the return on investment from an Intranet implementation, you need to:
· Have executive support for the ongoing project
· Keep the content updated and create new content on a regular basis at all levels
· Continuously review and add new business automation processes
· Make sure you are taking advantage of available new technologies
Quite simply you can put all the work in initially only to see diminishing returns through lack of attention.
Create a Virtual Intranet Team
To reiterate the point above, SMBs don’t have the luxury of hiring a team to build and manage an intranet. So as in most challenges, they need to be creative. What we have found to work is to create a virtual Intranet Team with representatives from multiple areas of the company. This team not only guides the development of the Intranet, but also ongoing management. As in most SMBs these team members probably already where multiple hats in their roles, and this is another. We suggest the following part-time (not their main job) roles for this team:
· Executive Sponsor – a senior executive who has responsibility for internal services such as IT, HR, Accounting, etc. Titles include CFO, COO or CIO.
· Intranet Administrator – not a techie, but preferably a business analyst type. They should be trained as a SharePoint Power Business User (see our suggested curriculum).
· Content Administrators – These are staff who are responsible for the content on the site, announcements, event calendars, etc. You should plan to have one for the top Intranet Portal, and one for each department. These may be administrative personnel.
· Technical Resource – typically someone from IT, perhaps the same person responsible for the Office 365 platform administration. This role will perform technical work such as data migration, permissions management, etc.
On an ongoing basis the most important role above, is the Intranet Administrator. They should play the “owner” role, responsible for making sure there is an ongoing work being done to keep the Intranet “fresh.” Most important is for the Administrator to have at least a power user knowledge of SharePoint Online. We are not talking about deep knowledge, but rather the level of knowledge an Excel power use might have. Here is an example curriculum for a SharePoint Power user training. The Intranet Administrator should have a good overall picture of the status of the different sites, and should coordinate the virtual team.
The second key role is that of the Content Administrator(s). The biggest reason for Intranet Failure is stale content. This is where this role plays and it can be overwhelming if you don’t break up the responsibilities into departments or sub sites. Each department probably has an employee portal which needs to have the latest announcements, documents, links, etc. By delegating content responsibility to each department, then chances are content will be kept up to date across the entire site collection.
The team itself should meet at least monthly to review activity, user acceptance and issues with the Intranet. Also, the team can plan new phases of features/functions which can be implemented over time. The executive sponsor should play a key role in setting organization expectations and planning around budget. Finally the technical resource should keep the team updated on new opportunities to use technology to the organizations advantage in the Intranet Portal.
By using a virtual team your Intranet Portal can be a success during implementation and ongoing.