Processes and Productivity How to align your intranet plans with company strategy Getting everyone on board with a new intranet can be an exhausting process. Here are six simple steps to develop a bulletproof company intranet strategy that will ensure a faster adoption, a successful buy-in, and better intranet results. 6 minute read You might also like… Whitepaper Intranet Use Cases Whitepaper 10 Award Winning Intranets To obtain adequate resources to build and maintain a good intranet, it must be perceived as mission critical. Getting everyone on board with a new intranet can be an exhausting process; especially if your stakeholders are having difficulty seeing the same value you do. What can help? Align the intranet with your company’s strategic plans. If you can achieve this, your stakeholders and executives will become more invested in your intranet’s success and may even become your largest cheerleader. Here’s six steps to make that happen: Ready to build your intranet business case? Learn how to align your business case with your company strategy. Read more Step #1: Identify the core benefits of an intranet The benefits of a new intranet are much more than just ‘improved communication’. Today’s intranets solve real business problems. Here are some of the most important common intranet benefits: Benefit Related features Well-informed employees Targeted, personalized news Broadcasted information Required reading content Bottom-up & top-down news sharing Greater admin efficiency User-friendly navigation Form creation Purposeful, task-oriented content Effective search Single sign-on & integrated applications Streamlined collaborative procedures Centralized team collaboration spaces Group/iterative editing of shared files Less use of email for file collaboration Online discussions captured centrally Improved knowledge management Rich discoverable profiles Communities of practice Q&A forums for key business topics Status updates & open discussions Discoverable user-generated blogs Group-generated reference material Stronger employee bonds Profiles with tags for shared interests Personal/fun online communities Commenting features throughout the site Open, discoverable groups Employee-generated news & content News about employees Increased employee satisfaction Greater voice within the company Ability to make meaningful contributions Stronger connections to colleagues Feel connected to larger community Understanding of corporate news Review this list, add any other benefits you can think of, and finalize your own list of ways an 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 of an intranet. Starting with the list you created in step #1, ask yourself: How good is your intranet now? Does it provide employees with the resources, information, and people to be productive? Is it accessible by remote, deskless, or hybrid workplace employees? 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 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 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 Don’t forget to also reach out to your executive team to verify your company’s strategy. You might be surprised to learn the strategy has changed, or evolved from when it was put in print. 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 Consolidate corporate information 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 linked to company goals and could be improved with targeted use of the intranet. Take the following goal: Reduce the length of our sales cycle by sharing and implementing sales best practices 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 their mobile devices. In this example you’ve started to link the benefits of an 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 company 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 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 five 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.