In order to get adequate resources to build and maintain a good intranet, it must be perceived as mission critical. What can help? Align the intranet with your company’s strategic plans. If you do, executives will become more invested in its success and more supportive of your efforts.
6 steps to a mission-critical company intranet strategy:
- Identify the core benefits of an intranet
- Evaluate the state of the current intranet
- Identify company goals that could rely on the intranet
- Identify priority business processes that could be improved via the intranet
- Identify simple business metrics to measure
- Write your intranet strategy based around the company strategy
Step #1: Identify the core benefits of an intranet
Common intranet benefits
|Greater admin efficiency||
|Streamlined collaborative procedures||
|Spread of innovations & good practices||
|Stronger employee bonds||
|Increased employee satisfaction||
|Attraction of talented new staff||
Go through this list, add any other benefits you can think of, and finalize your own list of ways a good social intranet could benefit your company.
Step #2: Evaluate the state of the current company intranet software
The next step is to do a current state analysis or gap analysis to identify your intranet’s strengths and weaknesses compared to the benefits an intranet can have. Starting with the list you created in step #1, ask yourself these questions:
- How good is your intranet now?
- How social is it?
- What resources do you have to improve it right now?
- How well does your intranet support each of the major benefits?
No matter how you do it, evaluating your current company intranet honestly will help you later in this process to identify areas of improvement to focus on.
Step #3: Identify company goals that could rely on the intranet
Next, look for any aspect of the company’s ambitions in which the benefits of a good social intranet could play an important role. Here’s a simple list of materials to look through:
- Mission, vision, values statements
- Long-term strategic plan
- Annual business plan
- Division business plans
Common aspects of company strategy that align well with social intranets:
- Modernize digital tools and digital ways of working
- Innovate more
- Collaborate better
- Increase efficiency, eliminate duplicate efforts
- Attract talent
- Share knowledge better
- Standardize processes
- Build a strong employee community
- Strengthen the brand internally, truly become “one company”
- Increase employee engagement levels
- Get officially recognized as a great place to work
Your company likely has other goals closely tied to your industry and market position, and those are also important to align with.
Step #4: Identify priority business processes to improve
Next, identify specific business problems and business processes that are 1) linked to company goals and 2) could be improved with targeted use of the intranet.
Take the following goal:
Your first step would be to do some research and talk to people in sales (and elsewhere) to identify what the challenges are to achieving that goal.
If sales people tell you they have no central place to post ideas and ask questions, then you’ve got a perfect case for rich community pages with discussion forums, blogs and wikis. You might also find that sales people need this available on tablets and smart phones.
In this example you’ve started to link the benefits of a social intranet to a specific business problem that needs to be solved, and to the larger company goal that will benefit.
Once you’ve found several examples of specific business processes that support company goals, you’re ready to write your intranet strategy.
Step #5: Identify simple business metrics to measure
If you’ve identified specific business processes to improve with your redesigned intranet, you likely have very clear metrics. Per the example listed in Step #4, the outcome-oriented business metric for a Sales Forum would be the length of the sales cycle.
Specific and business-oriented metrics can feel intimidating. But they’ll help you make your case for intranet resources. They’ll also help affected business units get involved. If you tell the sales team you’d like to provide tools to help them close deals faster, they may become your new best friend.
One mistake many intranet teams make is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) solely around activity rather than outcomes. While your intranet analytics software may tell you the number of page views or new comments, those numbers don’t convey real value. They can be part of your measurement framework, but really aren’t enough on their own.
Step #6: Structure your intranet strategy around company goals
If you’ve completed the previous 5 steps, you should have excellent raw material for creating your intranet strategy. While you write it, keep these points in mind:
- A strategy is not a plan. Don’t try to lay out strict timelines and milestones
- A strategy is about priorities. It should help you make decisions about what to do now and what to do later
- Consider including pilot periods for testing and refining new features
- Include relevant company goals early on in the strategy
- Include at least a few specific business processes to focus on. This will make the strategy concrete and relatable
- Explain who will be involved in the project and how
If your company’s strategy is AWOL
If your company’s strategy and goals are unclear, there’s an alternative approach: Uncover the priorities of individual executives and align with those. If you know an HR executive is keen on employee engagement, or a sales executive wants her people to learn faster by sharing knowledge more openly, then you can align your intranet strategy with those concepts. In this scenario you use the same basic approach, but the goals are more personal to executives and less official. The fact that they’re more personal may end up as a benefit.
Irrelevance kills intranets. Ignoring company strategy or referring to it only in vague generalities can be a big mistake. Fortunately, the approach outlined in this post can ensure that your redesigned intranet is not just relevant, but mission critical.
Looking for help with your company intranet strategy? Our professional services team can provide tools and advice to get you on the right track.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.
October 2, 2013