Why you need an up to date intranet strategy

Do you have an up to date intranet strategy? All too often the answer is “No”.

Many organisations only have a documented intranet strategy to prepare for a specific project such as a redesign or a new platform. Once the project is completed the intranet strategy isn’t revisited until the next major iteration.

While that’s not a disaster per se, it does leave your intranet at a disadvantage. Without an intranet strategy, your intranet is effectively rudderless and directionless.  And without some direction your intranet could be failing to have the impact it should be or even effectively start to fall out of use.

Your intranet strategy needs to be a living and breathing document. And here’s why. (We’ll be covering this topic in even greater detail in our forthcoming intranet strategy workshop).

It’s a cross functional thing

Although intranets are usually owned by Comms and IT, intranets are, in fact, cross functional platforms with multiple stakeholders. Often it is the gateway to different systems and applications. There may be multiple dependencies in place.

This means the intranet is likely to be referenced in the strategy and roadmap for communications, IT, HR and other channels. But to preserve the integrity, consistency and value of the user experience of the intranet as a channel, everyone needs to have some common reference points. Having an up to date strategy with a vision, roadmap and other trimmings helps to preserve that direction and act as a central point of reference for all stakeholders. The intranet can now align with other strategies and proceed in a co-ordinated way based on holistic thinking.

Ch ch ch changes

Organisations change. The business climate changes. The expectations of users change. Technology changes. And those changes happen increasingly quickly meaning that even within the lifespan of a major intranet project the strategy it was based upon might be out of date by the time of the go live date.

Intranets need to react to all those changes but all too often the changes are not referenced within an up to date strategy. Having a living intranet strategy helps maintain direction, consistency and relevancy in a volatile climate.

Digital transformation, digital workplace

The strategic importance of digital is a common theme and on the agenda for many leadership functions. It’s reflected in buzzwords like digital transformation.

Within the intranet community we’ve tended to latch on to the term “digital workplace” which points to a more more integrated and consistent experience of technology in organisations for employees.  Intranets are playing their part as the main channel into the wider digital workplace and also increasingly integrating social and collaborative functionality.

Is your intranet of strategic importance to your organisation? If you want it to be, you’ll need to have an up to date strategy which shows how it can assume that position.

Relevance at all stages of the intranet lifecycle

Intranet strategies tend to be produced only with the anticipation of a large project which involves a change in platform. This implies that you build a great intranet and then let it drift without direction until it needs replacing, based on a new strategy you have just written.

However in reality most of the best intranets are actually built on more of a programme of evolution or continual improvement, with smaller and more iterative changes actually delivering the real benefits. Broadly speaking most intranets have four stages of their lifecycle:

  • Actively being replaced
  • Post implementation with a roadmap for improvements
  • Business as usual with occasional improvements (including one major relaunch)
  • End of lifecycle and needs replacing

You need an intranet strategy for all four of these stages to keep the intranet relevant and improving. Even when you have reached the end of the lifecycle there are still things you may be able to do around content and management processes to improve the intranet and make the migration to a new platform easier.

Where’s the money?

You’ll also need an up to date intranet strategy to argue for investment. Sometimes opportunities arise quickly and if you need to construct a business case from scratch then you may be missing out. Be prepared! Having an up to date intranet strategy in your back pocket will undoubtedly help.

Credibility for your career

It can be hard proving your value to senior management, especially as intranet teams are small or even standalone roles Having an intranet strategy which shows how your intranet will deliver value and speaks the language of the company and senior management gives you personal credibility which can help you in your career.

Don’t know where to start?

If you’re considering your intranet strategy and don’t know where to start why don’t you join Chris Tubb and I on our day long intranet strategy workshop in London on January 21st 2016. Whatever the stage of your intranet we think you’ll find value.  We’ll help you think through the issues in a structured way and you’ll  leave the workshop with a much better idea of the way forward for your intranet

There are still early bird tickets available and if you want to discuss the day further with us you can contact us. We’ll also both be at the Intranet Now conference in October.

Chris says:

“Hallelujah and amen. If you think intranet strategy is optional, your intranet will become optional and so will you. Next week I’ll be covering some nuts and bolts about how to start your efforts for defining your intranet strategy. You will find that understanding your present circumstances are as important as defining that vision thing.”