For Today’s Blog You Will Need:

2 x packets of jelly*, 1 to be mixed and left to set before Experiment 1
1 x bag of nails
1 x a wall
1 x set of intranet launch requirements
1 x an intranet
1 x an alibi when your boss or the cleaners walk in on this experiment

* jello for American readers – I’m not advocating nailing jam/jelly to the wall, that would be crazy

Planning Your Intranet Launch

Planning an intranet for launch can be tough. As an Intranet Manager you create a team of Intranet Champions, enthuse them and then have to tell them they can’t have 90% of the things they come back with…well you should but some Intranet Managers don’t.

These Intranet Managers try and create a sprawling intranet to cover every need, want, will or pipe dream.  They then wonder why the information architecture is a mess and people can’t find anything, or worse just don’t use their intranet. For anyone who has used one of these intranets, the user experience is confusing and things appear out of context a bit like this abstract scene in the film Twister.

Surely My Intranet Launch Could Never Fall Into This Trap?

Sadly they often do. I’m going to look at how intranet launch planning gets into this state and what you can do to make sure yours doesn’t.

Have you ever tried nailing jelly to a wall? In essence this is what you’re trying to do if you try to include everything your intranet champions want.

The Proof is in the Pudding – Exercise 1

Step 1: Take your prepared jelly and a handful of nails.

Step 2: So go on, try it now, take your nails and hammer that jelly into the wall!

DISCLAIMER: You never got this idea from me if your boss starts calling!

Exercise 1 Results

I hypothesise your effort looks like the picture on the right.

We can quickly conclude you can’t nail jelly to the wall, it won’t stay in place, it changes shape and ultimately is doomed to fail in a splattered mess on your floor. It does this because it spreads itself too thin and can’t keep its structure.

Does this sound familiar?

If you try and give your users everything for launch, your intranet will look the same as your jelly, a slimy mess in need of a dramatic clean up. What you need is scale and structure.

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Keep Your Jelly as Manageable Blocks

You’re likely to have a list of requirements for your intranet. What you need is a way to prioritise them.

Your intranet may only need three or four killer apps to quickly become essential; these might be an Employee Directory, an online form for something which used to be paper based and sent through five departments, access to regular customer news or even a lunchtime canteen menu. It will vary from company to company.

Take your list and define the requirements in a way that prioritises them, I use the MoSCoW method to define Must Haves, Should Haves, Could Haves and Won’t Haves. This will identify your killer apps and what will have the greatest impact.

You could include a couple of ‘Should Haves’ in your launch but there is nothing wrong with building these into a post launch roadmap. This will give you a succession of improvements, which can be made to your intranet as you improve. Constant and small improvements are a better way to develop your intranet after launch than  big, multi feature, infrequent bursts.

Using this method you’ll have a collection of blocks of work.

Time For More Jelly – Exercise 2

Step 1: Open your second packet of jelly. Don’t go any further.

Step 2: Tear off a block and try and nail this to the wall. What happens?

Exercise 2 Results

This time the jelly should stick. The blocks are more rigid and defined. You should have something that looks like this:

It works!

Lessons Learned:

  • Planning your intranet features for launch is easier if you split them up and look at them individually
  • Don’t try and do everything, it’s not possible
  • Quite often you will end up saying no to project champions and stakeholders. This is OK, just handle it tactfully and show them your roadmap going forwards
  • Less is more. Focus on killer apps
  • You can’t nail made jelly to the wall
  • There are a lot of people dedicating their lives to jelly nailing. The best examples I found were http://www.myscienceproject.org/j-wall.html and http://graeme.woaf.net/otherbits/jelly.html

 Need more tips on launching and structuring your intranet? Attend our free Intranet Fundamentals Seminar in Manchester or London on the 5th and 6th of December. Find out more and book today >>

Public Disclaimer: No jelly was harmed in the making of this blog.