The Good Intranet Parenting Guide

Many of my peers in the intranet industry will openly tell you that your intranet is not a project. However, very few actually say what your intranet is if it isn’t a project. For my part I see your intranet sitting somewhere between a continuous programme of work and a business as usual tool, which ramps up on resources in project phases during your lifecycle, particularly in the build up to launch.

Depending on your business and resources those involved can vary greatly but there are usually at least one one and often a couple of constant people who are involved throughout, they may manage the intranet or be a primary stakeholder and in today’s blog, if that constant is you, I want to change or affirm the way you feel about your intranet and its growth; your intranet is more than a piece of intranet software, it is like having a child and so I want to discuss how you can be a good parent of that intranet child.

In conjunction with my lightening talk at Intranet Now on Tuesday 2nd September I want to look at the phases of your intranets growth and how thinking of it as a parent will help you to make it a success. Please join in the conversation on Twitter via the hashtag #intranetparent

As with children, some would argue the most fun is in the making.

  • You will have aspirations and objectives for your intranet with lots of excitement about how it might turn out but also an element of fear in case it does not meet the objectives you have.
  • Will you have the budget available to achieve what you want to do for example?
  • You will want to do the equivalent of sharing the three month scan on Facebook, how are you going to make your business aware of the impending arrival? Teaser posters can be a great way to add mystery and interest.
  • You’ll be wondering what to call it – a naming competition can often be a great way of engaging users at this stage.
  • You’ll need to decide where it sleeps – in this case is it going to be hosted on premise or in the cloud? Maybe you even need to move to a bigger house to cater for this new arrival – in this case upgrading your infrastructure.
  • You’ll also need to get your paintbrushes out to redecorate so get your designers ready to create a site which looks great.

Homepages Good Parenting

Luckily there’s a lot of great antenatal advice and support, for example our customers have the Interact Community to help them as they progress as well as consultants and trainers who can come on site to help you at every step. Also take advantage of the grand parents (stakeholders), what experience do they have? Do they fully understand what your intranet can achieve?

Undoubtedly there will be some stressful moments coming up to the new arrival…but it will be worth it.

The launch of your intranet will be an exciting day. There are a number of things to consider and do to ensure a smooth labour:

  • Do you have your maternity bag packed – a toolkit maybe for those supporting the launch. Do you have the support you need in place? (IT for example), people forgetting passwords is the equivalent of dealing with a full intranet nappy. You’ll share responsibility with others so it doesn’t seem too much.
  • Again Interact’s Community and LinkedIn Groups can help you ask questions and solve your problems.
  • Its functions will be clear and simple, giving delight to everyone who encounters it and you’ll want to show it off and include it in all your communications.
  • It will have its first words (commenting, statuses, @mentioning images). Some intranets will be more gifted than others and also are affected by the culture around them.
  • Ensure it has toys to play with by ensuring your intranet has a responsive design, allowing your users to access your intranet wherever they are with whichever device they have to hand.

It might give you sleepless nights but this will be due to your brain buzzing with new ideas.

Early Years
Your intranet is changing by the day, you’ll want to measure how it is growing using Analytics as well as its intelligence investigating the impact Interact Suggests and Interact Recommends has for each user pushing content similar to their typical activity.

  • Who are the Godparents (intranet champions)? Are they delivering? Do you need to reconsider them?
  • Does your intranet have a balanced personality – business process, collaboration, communication; is it scaling to your evolving needs? It will start having homework as online forms transform your business.
  • It will start making new friends, integrating with other tools and displaying increasing levels of collaborative activity.

Teenage Years
As your intranet matures, your role can often be more of moderator, guiding when needed rather than needing attention by the minute. Collaboration is likely to be a key behaviour, you may see the equivalent of mood swings as more employees give opinions collaboratively, this can be easily managed with an Acceptable Use Policy to offset this.

  • You’ll need to review your what are your intranet’s objectives now? Are they being met?
  • Like all teenagers, does it want to change its image? You might choose to rebrand your site
  • Your intranet may be able to speak a range of languages, use a translation tool to overcome language obstacles.
  • You may need to consider the equivalent of divorce – what happens if an intranet parent leaves?

At all stages help is available, never be afraid to ask for help. Check Interact Intranet’s website and Community for guidance, come to Interaction for ideas and advice or read one of the selection of great books out there, my favourite is Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’.