How to fix a broken intranet without any money

Here at Intranet Directions we want to help get intranet managers (and those who have just been told to manage the intranet) get unstuck, when stuck.

So I thought I’d create a (rather unorthdox) strategic plan for the most broken intranet possible – the minimum viable repair. So grab a box of tissues, then man-up:

You’ve got nobody to help, no money and a broken intranet. You could sit under your desk collecting dust or roll-up your sleeves and try and make a difference – it’s your choice. Once more unto the breach, or leave them to it.

The dead-duck

Many intranets hit this point. The intranet is a wreck – if it was a horse it would be taken out into the field and shot.

For whatever organisational reasons, there is no money for capital investment to fix it, and no additional operational headcount: either on the business side to improve the content, or on the technical side to fix the many, many issues of complaint that are aimed at you on a weekly basis.

Your first option, and I urge you strongly to consider it, is to leave. We will call this “Plan A”. Take your energy and sanity to a company that deserves you, and that considers the intranet more important than, say, the vending machines. If you do leave, please leave this Intranet Direction printed out on the desk of your successor as someone is going to have to clear up this mess eventually.

I appreciate you maybe can’t or don’t want to do that – there might not be a huge number of intranet wielding companies in your commutable area, and hey you need that monthly paycheck. Therefore, your second option is to sit there and wait for retirement. I really, really don’t recommend that. You will go insane with boredom, and eventually the intranet will end up so bad they’ll bring the consultants in who will say all of the things that you’ve been saying, but you’ll get blamed.

So, if you have to play this card, what’s the best way to play it?

There is a third option.  It’s about changing the way things are done. focusing on value, upsetting a few parts of the business along the way and bigging up your achievements. It’s about doing what you have to do, because quite frankly you’ve got nothing else to lose. Here’s the Intranet Direction – the minimum viable repair.

Direction summary:

  1. Consider leaving to an organisation that values your skills.
  2. Radically change the way you do things in the light of a poorly performing intranet with unjustifiably too few resources.
  3. Stabilise the intranet as far as you can by concentrating on business value and what is most important to users.
  4. Ruthlessly reject pointless requests for content or functionality that add little overall value.
  5. Rigorously prove the value of your achievements and communicate them to stakeholders.
  6. Continue to fight for resources while reframing the concept of what intranets mean in your organisation.
  7. Again consider leaving and use your achievements to better your professional standing.

What does Steve think?

“Although Chris sounds a bit apocalyptic and gloomy, I think there’s something actually quite liberating about accepting that your intranet is broken, and effectively declaring a state of emergency.  The new set of operating rules you then implement might not be to everybody’s liking, but the added emphasis and energy given to areas of value might just broker a new relationship with at least one of your stakeholders. Ultimately if after a few months you are able to achieve a difference operationally but the stakeholders don’t care at all then you really might be better off taking your skills elsewhere.”

Want to know more?

Please download the PDF where you will find 4000 words of finely crafted how-to:

MVR thumbs

It’s free. On us. No email required; no registration. You’re welcome. Share widely. Let us know how you get on.

—Chris Tubb October 2013

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8 thoughts on “How to fix a broken intranet without any money

  1. Easily my favorite point: Ruthlessly reject pointless requests for content or functionality that add little overall value. Along those lines, one of the biggest issues we face is determining what should be posted to our intranet’s homepage announcement section. Left to our content managers they’d like to announce every document, conference call, webinar, and basically everything THEY feel is important – all while neglecting the fact that we have a very large intranet encompassing many departments, programs and areas. At a 1400 person company there is too much daily new content to allow them to do that and we struggle each day because of a lack of specific guidelines. If you are looking for a topic for another blog post I’d be eager to see your take on that subject!

    • Nice post! I love noodling about on bespoke bits of functionality that help a niche a lot though. Geoff, can you enable some functionality to allow those incessant posters to target a relevant audience?

    • Geoff, many thanks for your comment. We’ve actually got a blog post in draft on a similar subject (about taking a more realistic approach to news on the intranet) but I think we’ll try and broaden that out to look at the tactics involved to keep the content managers happy so watch this space.. I think sometimes it is very difficult to say “no”, particularly when the person asking has authority. Also when there is a lot of news appearing from different departments, it prods other departments into action who also want visibility. As Adam points out, the ability to target content can help. Also having some robust metrics in place to show the how popular certain types of stories are is good ammunition to support your argument.

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