Undertaking the awe-inspiring 26.2 miles of a marathon is no small feat. It takes commitment, preparation, training, investment. For many, a coach is an invaluable source of support who will increase chances of success. Here’s why you need to enlist one for your intranet project.

The age-old mantra of ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ tends to get thrown around a lot in business.

The understanding that some things take longer, require more training, planning and preparation, and should be undertaken at a steady pace gets applied to everything from product launches to professional development.

We’re going to jump on the cliche here and say it again: an intranet project is no different.

It’s a big commitment and significant investment to get an intranet up-and-running – and the effort doesn’t stop there. Delivering long-term success is definitely a marathon effort. Deploying a ‘coach’ to get you trained up and ready will significantly increase your chances of crossing that finish line. Here’s why:

They’ll help you create a training plan – for you.

Like every runner, each organization is different.

Your internal comms fitness levels are going to be different. You have different demands on your time, different resources at your disposal. And while the end goal of 26.2 or launching an intranet may be the same, your reasons for undertaking this race – and what you want to get out of it – are unique to you.

A coach will help you take stock of where you stand, understand what you’re looking to accomplish, and help you create a training or project plan that is tailored to you.

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For an intranet, that includes everything from guiding you through a content audit to helping to define your information architecture and more. You wouldn’t borrow Mo Farah’s training plan for your first marathon; don’t take chances with someone else’s project plan for your intranet.

Interact took the time to understand us, our brand, and what we stand for. That translated into an intranet design that really captures the values of Breast Cancer Now and keeps our colleagues coming back again and again.

Izzy Roberts – Communications Officer, Breast Cancer Now

They’ll break down the goal into manageable chunks.

26.2 miles is an intimidating goal. Getting a full-scale intranet project off the ground is no less overwhelming.

Underestimating what’s involved in getting ready to race is a common marathon mishap. While there will always be those under-prepared runners who will rock up to the start line with just 3 weeks of training under their belt, that’s not a risk worth taking with your intranet project.

An intranet coach will help you break down your goal into manageable – and realistic – chunks. They’ll shed a light on the reality of what’s involved, what resource you’ll need, how long it will take. Then, they’ll support you in creating a roadmap for success: breaking that aspiration of ‘run a marathon’ into smaller, time-based objectives that will make your end-goal feel more achievable.

You can tap into their expertise

It may be your first intranet project or even your fifth; but a professional strategist or coach has supported hundreds in their time.

They have the experience behind them from different industries, organizations of different sizes and with different challenges. That’s invaluable knowledge you can tap into to maximize your chances of success.

This also means they can give you a reality check on your aspirational wishlist. Running a sub-3hr marathon when you’ve never pulled on a pair of sneakers before and have just 6 weeks to get in shape just isn’t gonna happen. Transformational change takes time.

Drawing on their experience means a coach can help you be honest with what you can achieve from your intranet, confront your barriers and constraints, and create realistic expectations. This can be particularly helpful if you need to manage that senior stakeholder who is looking for a silver bullet that will completely transform your organization in just 8 weeks.

They’ll help you avoid injury

Nothing sets back a marathon training bid more than an unwelcome injury. When it comes to your intranet project, there are a variety of potential risks, roadblocks and challenges that could cause your plan to derail.

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A qualified and experienced strategist can support you in identifying, planning for, and mitigating common intranet project risks. This spans everything from project overrun, delays, or over spend through to technical issues, lack of stakeholder buy-in or poor adoption.

Only 29% of IT project implementations are successful, and 19 percent are considered utter failures.

Your intranet is a significant investment, and the process of getting it embedded into your business includes significant organizational and culture change. There are far more risks for injury than many of us realize.

They’ll help you keep your eye on the prize

Undertaking training and long runs can be pretty isolating – and tough. Lapses in motivation, momentum and skipped training opportunities are par for the course for any would-be marathon runner.

When it comes to an intranet project, things can likewise slip. If you’re juggling this alongside your day job, other business priorities can quickly take over, causing deadlines to pass by. If you’re facing challenges like a lack of stakeholder buy-in, large volumes of content to audit, reluctant or disengaged employees and more, it can be easy to get demotivated.

Your intranet coach is there to keep you focused. They can provide a source of support when things go awry, help you understand and communicate the business value of what you’re undertaking, and give you that proverbial kick when motivation is required.

They can help diagnose and treat

Even with the best planning and intentions, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. Injuries, bad races, a lack of progress: even the professionals haven’t figured out a way to avoid these altogether. When that niggle develops or issues arise, a coach can be invaluable in not just identifying what the problem is, but why it happened in the first place.

For an intranet, this is something that takes place not just during the preparation, design, and launch phases: it’s a lifetime need.

If you have a failing intranet, a strategist can perform a healthcheck and prescribe the necessary course of treatment. They can help you review your performance against objectives set and define new goals. If you’re seeing a lack of adoption, they can support you in getting to the root cause and come up with a new approach; if your staff aren’t finding what they need, they can get testing, investigating, and understand why before putting a fix in place. Understanding the why helps prevent a reoccurrence.

They’ll train you up to go the distance yourself

A coach isn’t there to run your race for you. They’re there to provide the necessary training, support and guidance for you to complete that marathon off your own back.

An intranet really is a marathon – in that it’s a long-term project. While you may have plenty of hand-holding during the design, training and launch phases, you’re the one who has to build and maintain it day-today.

The goal of strategic support for your intranet is to empower you with the knowledge and tools needed to be self-sufficient and operate your intranet with relative independence. By undertaking the brass tacks under guidance, you’ll learn through doing: and have greater confidence to go the distance.

They’ll help get you in the right mindset

Almost everyone who has undertaken the marathon distance will testify that it’s not just a physical challenge: it’s a mental battle too.

Overcoming nerves, hitting the wall, riding waves of elation followed by the inevitable “I can’t do this!”, the euphoria of crossing the finish line – it’s a rollercoaster like no other. Mental training strategies to prepare for the challenge are now a big part of marathon training, ensuring runners are in the right place before the gun fires.

Deploying an intranet isn’t just switching on a piece of software – the physical bit, the tool. It’s a process of change and transformation, impacting your entire business. As part of your project you’ll need to address business challenges, set clear objectives, raise awareness amongst staff, drive engagement. Getting results requires a shift in the very culture and way in which your organization works.

Your coach is a fantastic resource to devise change management strategies that will get your organization mentally – and culturally – in the right place for your new intranet. They can guide you on launch and awareness campaigns, identify staff needs that can be answered within the intranet, give you tactical ideas for driving adoption and engagement.

When your staff are informed, understand the ‘what’s in it for me?’ factor, and are excited about their new platform, you’ll reap the rewards once the race is under way.

So, who is my coach?

At Interact, our customers don’t just benefit from a single coach: we have an entire team of dedicated in-house experts who are committed to not just getting you across the finish line, but to supporting you in becoming an all-out champion and keeping you running.

Our professional services include specialized intranet strategists, dedicated project managers, an in-house training team, design services, technical consultants, and your very own customer success manager. Like any pro athlete, you have an entire entourage available to you, should you need it; from your professional coach right down to your personal masseuse (disclaimer: currently not offered by Interact).

The level of support needed varies from one organization to another, depending on a number of factors – your size and resource availability, your objectives, your current level of digital workplace maturity and more. Not everyone needs the full team on standby; but no-one should feel they’re facing the challenge alone.

But everyone does marathons these days. Is a coach really necessary?

Make no mistake: undertaking the challenge of a marathon is a tremendous accomplishment. Just 0.5% of the US population have ever run one. Almost all of those will testify to the blood, sweat and tears required even to just show up on the start line, let alone complete each of those 26 miles.

Admittedly, your average marathoner probably hasn’t invested in a professional coach to accomplish their dream. However, most will have some form of support system they’ll be tapping into: whether that be the running buddy they’ve done some miles with, or the family member who turns up on the day with a billboard to cheer them on.

An intranet project is a significant investment, and your business is looking for the returns. It’s also important to remember that an intranet alone doesn’t improve employee engagement, collaboration, or retention levels. An intranet is a tool that provides a platform to execute these broader initiatives. Flying solo – particularly if this is your first rodeo – poses a huge risk.

If you really want to realize those objectives, an expert support system on hand when you need them will maximize the value of your intranet – and bring home that medal.