Getting the right people behind your intranet project, both during implementation and to manage it after launch, is critical to its success. So, how do you go about creating your own intranet dream team?
While an intranet platform is, at its most basic level, a piece of software, it is people who ultimately make an intranet successful.
Too many intranet projects fail or don’t live up to their full potential because they don’t operate from this principle. Believing that we can simply flick an ‘on switch’ and hope for the best is the quickest route to intranet project failure. Without a user-centric approach, too many intranet projects will lack direction, have low perceived value to the organization, suffer poor adoption, or succumb to competing priorities.
With the right team behind you and a plan in place, you can ensure your intranet is successful and valuable to your organization and its users – not only at launch, but for the lifetime of your project.
Why do I need an intranet team?
An intranet team will ultimately be responsible for:
- Planning, delivering, and implementing your intranet
- Ongoing management and continued success of your intranet after launch
Establishing a team will not only help you to determine project resource requirements to ensure you get your intranet off the ground but will also safeguard against many common risks such as project overrun, lack of accountability or ownership, or poor governance and direction for your intranet.
Creating a team also ensures you’re thinking about how best to utilize the skillsets and expertise already residing within your organization. By aligning roles and responsibilities to the different strengths of your team members, you’ll get greater buy-in and see better results in the long run.
In creating an intranet team, you will also be defining and clarifying roles and responsibilities: ensuring that each individual knows what is expected of them and creating a clear framework and safety net for your intranet. If roles or responsibilities change, are unfulfilled, or questions arise, having a model for management and governance means it’s easy to hold people accountable, to meet all necessary needs, and agree on the best course of action to protect your intranet.
Challenges when creating your intranet team
Naturally, no two organizations are the same in terms of the resource they have available, their culture and structure, or even their intranet goals and objectives. All of these impact on how – and who – will form your intranet team.
An enterprise-level international organization with a defined internal communications function and a dedicated full-time intranet manager will have a very different approach to a one-man-band intranet owner in a much smaller organization, for example.
In addition, you need to consider who is being represented on your team. An intranet covers a huge range of functions and roles within a business; at its heart, it is – or should be – on organization-wide tool. If overall intranet ownership lies with just one niche arm of the business, do you risk alienating certain members of your organization? Could your intranet evolve (even subconsciously) in a biased fashion, and ultimately fail to meet the needs of the different user demographics in your business?
When defining your team, ultimately you face the barriers of:
- Balancing intranet roles alongside day-to-day responsibilities
- Conflicting priorities and the risk of bias impacting the deployment and evolution of your intranet
- Alternative projects taking priority over the intranet, particularly those seen as contributing to concrete business KPIs such as bottom-line profits, turnover, or customer acquisition
So, how do you minimize or mitigate those issues?
- Create clearly defined team roles and responsibilities as part of your intranet governance model
- Have a documented plan for unexpected role changes
- Gain stakeholder input and agreement on team structure
Intranet roles and responsibilities
Whilst every intranet team is unique and will align to the organization, its culture, and its objectives, there are some common roles and responsibilities typically seen in intranet delivery and management.
For some organizations, roles may overlap; others may be redundant; in smaller organizations, several of the roles may be conducted by one person.
C Level Director(s)
Buy-in starts from the top and getting a stakeholder on-side who holds the power and influence to create both procedural and cultural change is key. If you have advocates from the top table, you’re also far more likely to see positive buy-in from front-line users. This individual or group will be responsible for:
- Signing off and supporting the intranet purpose and objectives
- Enhancing and developing the intranet in line with organizational objectives
- Leading changes and helping to break down barriers preventing the intranet from reaching its potential
- Serving as an escalation point for stakeholder and intranet management for any unsolved issues
C Level Directors have the capacity to get a lot done in a short space of time, and often play a critical role in getting an intranet project completed to agreed deadlines and cost.
If C Level Directors are those seated in government creating policy, then stakeholders are the lobbyists applying pressure and petitioning for change.
Intranet stakeholders have overall responsibility for delivering intranet success. They’re sufficiently senior to have a broad view of company objectives and well-connected to the needs or the organization and other senior leaders. To deliver on your intranet vision, they should:
- Work with intranet management, C-Level and the organization as a whole to plan and execute the intranet strategy
- Enhance and develop the intranet in line with organizational objectives
- Chair governance meeting
- Report to C-Level on the progress of intranet strategy, escalating issues where required
Given the level of investment into the project required of these stakeholders, its vital you find the right individuals for the role: those who have a vested interest and want or desire your intranet to succeed. These are your champions and a vital cog in achieving your intranet objectives.
Without even just light-touch management, your intranet is at risk of becoming out-of-date, unfocused, or unused. Day-to-day management of the intranet may not necessarily be a full-time role, particularly for smaller organizations; however, it does need to be an assigned responsibility to keep your intranet on track to success.
An intranet manager takes on centralized management of the intranet and will:
- Work with stakeholder to develop and execute intranet strategy
- Undertake day-to-day management tasks such as creating and managing the structure, or setting and maintaining homepages
- Work with content owners and publishers to check and review content, enhance search optimization, and adhere to content strategy and management principles
- Conduct ongoing training of publishers and familiarization for users
Content is king, so they say; and this is particularly true of the intranet.
Content Leads are those accountable overall for the content published to the intranet by their particular department, team, or interest area – for this reason, we frequently see Heads of Department elected to the role of content lead. They will ensure the validity, accuracy, and usefulness of intranet content– although they may not necessarily be the one doing the writing and publishing. Their role will include:
- Providing content publisher resource and supporting the publisher in keeping content up-to-date
- Working with stakeholders and intranet management to adhere to content strategy and management principles
- Responding to requests from intranet management and working to resolve issues
In a smaller organization, the roles of Content Lead and Publisher may often overlap. A Publisher is responsible, unsurprisingly, for ensuring content is created and published on the intranet for users to consume.
Their day-to-day responsibilities will include:
- Working with the content lead and intranet management to create, publish, and manage content in accordance with content strategy and management principles
- Respond to requests for content
The level of IT support required will depend on the intranet solution you opt for; however, even for out-of-box solutions that require limited IT input to setup or manage day-to-day, it’s important to have the input of a senior IT representative to consult on the strategic role and technical concerns of an intranet. These include:
- Consulting and assisting with technical aspects regarding hosting, security, and user management
- Support for integration and digital workplace management
- Ensure validity of user management source
- Help troubleshoot technical problems
The digital workplace is increasingly diverse, with a multitude of different tools and applications serving a huge range of purposes. A successful intranet will complement and support the digital workplace by working with – not against – existing platforms.
(An intranet should work alongside your existing technology stack to improve the employee experience of the digital workplace and ultimately, support them in getting their jobs done.)
IT has a critical role to play in ensuring the seamless integration of your intranet into your organization’s technology stack, helping to ensure a positive user experience and safeguarding against common complaints such as poor performance or downtime: all of which will impact on the long-term success of your intranet.
Intranet success isn’t achieved on the day of launch. To remain relevant and valuable, an intranet will continually evolve, grow, and change with your organization.
A steering group is typically made up of a mixture of roles and seniority levels, and will consult on ideas, plans, strategy, and any proposals for the intranet: a ‘check and test’ group for improvements or changes. They ensure any updates to your intranet are conducted in the best interests of both user and the business overall and will:
- Work with the intranet management team to provide user feedback on current and future plans
- Input ideas into strategic planning
Intranet teams and governance: a user-centric approach
Successful intranets are centered on their users. Whatever team structure or governance model you elect for, they should form the foundation or center.
Listen to them. What are their expectations and needs from the intranet? How do they envision the intranet contributing to their day-to-day roles? What features, functionality, or tools are important to them? Their biggest challenges?
With these insights and buy-in, you can align your team structure, goals, and objectives accordingly.
If you’re the one charged with making your intranet a success and perhaps you’re viewing that list of roles and responsibilities thinking, “I’m a solo operation – I can’t do all that” don’t panic. Many of the roles above are a consultative or ‘part time’ responsibility; some roles naturally overlap; others may not be relevant for your organization at this time.
Take stock of what is required to keep your intranet performing and revisit it often. Ensure that those you require input from – even just periodically – are aware of their responsibilities and that there is a documented process in place, should they be unable to fulfil their obligations or if roles perhaps change over change.