As organizations grow, evolve, transform or even contract to smaller, more nimble organizations, they are almost always faced with communication challenges that can impact the speed at which they can complete their work. There are many tools and products these days that can be used to collaborate and communicate with staff, but if you do not have a proper end-to-end strategy for employee engagement, these tools can also become incomplete silos of information that reduce your effectiveness. Whether you are considering a traditional intranet or intranet with a Learning Management System, the implementation plan is the same.

Some common shortfalls might be the following:

  • Lack of accurate, timely, relevant, and unifying focal point for all employees.
  • Employees disengaged from tools and do not find them useful to enhance their daily productivity or as a source of authoritative information.

A successful launch or relaunch of your Intranet needs to go beyond upgrading the technology platform. It should represent a culture change that requires ongoing support, direction, and ownership from senior executives and service owners in HR, Communications, Technology, and Marketing.

Intranet Project Planning

Building your business case - Where do you begin?

Before selecting a platform or even writing your business case – you need to consider the following principles: 

  • Always start with the use cases. This is what makes a system useful, effective, and it creates high adoption. The use cases should have tangible benefits that accelerate your end-to-end business model. 
  • Your tool of choice needs to be diverse + casual, and it needs to have relevant content that engages colleagues and encourages collaboration. The tool should accurately represent official brands and style.
  • Single source of authoritative information such as official process documents and forms should be used for all colleagues.
  • It needs collaboration spaces for teams and projects, like integrations with MS Teams/Google/Lucid, etc.
  • It should have an intelligent, contextual search capability that prioritizes the most relevant information for each colleague.

Building your project plan.

After your business case is built, there are a few steps that should be taken when creating a project plan for implementing an intranet solution on SharePoint. Before building the project plan, we should identify the objectives for each of the following factors:

1) Start by thinking about design - what are you building for:

  • Vision and Personas describing the ultimate direction of the solution and who will use it
  • Requirements, either as a prioritized Requirements Matrix (waterfall) or Product Backlog (agile)
  • Wireframes should be built in advance
  • Visual Designs, ‘cut up’ ready for implementation
  • Solution Design, providing overall functional design and specific behavior of features (behavior could also be described in Axure)

2) Next step - think about roles. This is one of the most critical components:

  • Architect, 365 configurator, Developer, UX/UI Designer and Product owners will cover the technical side.
  • Community Managers, Change Champions (they write the content for the sites), Communications lead(s), Program sponsor (could be head of HR or head of corporate communications).
  • Vendors & partners helping with the heavy lifting for new content or technical delivery.

3) Evaluate your budget, your timeline, and the scope of your minimum viable product:

  • These types of projects could go on forever because of the vast amount of content that your stakeholders will want. Ensure that you box in your needs based on the mandatory features in your intranet .
  • First identify what makes your intranet sticky (org charts, company policies, knowledgebase, etc.).
  • Build use cases around, for example, your releases. All project artifacts are only in SharePoint, which will ensure adoption.

4) Build your Office 365 Application Lifecycle and technical roadmap

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Keep pace with the service - empty sites cause adoption issues, deploy as content is built 
  • Tenant isolation & Automated Deployment
  • Build your metadata strategy (search will become more important over time)
  • Data Migration - Where is your content coming from? Cleanse as you migrate - no need for 20 years of old and out of date "stuff" 
  • UI and Data Testing

5) Considerations specifically for SharePoint:

  • Governance / site creation - Keep your content fresh!
  • Approval workflow (keep it simple - or you will need a help desk to support it and that's counter productive) 
  • Routing for on-premises or online
  • Implement site templates
  • Deploy customizations
  • Site template maintenance
  • Site metadata tagging
  • Improved site search experience

A high level plan might look like the following:

Building Communication Management

With any successful implementation of any technology, one of the most important components is a solid communication plan. During each phase of your intranet project, communication is as important as the technical and program deliverables. 

These components should be built into your project plan at certain intervals to ensure that you have engagement in the company at all levels. This will ensure high adoption, support at all levels, and the beginning of change evangelists throughout your company.