In Part I, we discussed Determining Project Deliverables and Using an Intranet Project Checklist. In Part 2, we discussed Building your Intranet Implementation Team and determining roles and responsibilities. The final step in intranet software implementation is timeline and scheduling.
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Intranet project timeline
When creating a project timeline it’s worth considering:
- Launch approach: What will your launch look like?
- Launch date: When will your intranet be available for all employees? Are there any external dates you can tie the intranet launch into? Perhaps a company townhall, a merger or acquisition, or a new strategic plan?
- Size of intranet team: How big is your team and how much time can they dedicate to the intranet?
- Bandwidth of the intranet team: What is their bandwidth? Will they have full-time availability to work on the intranet launch? Or do they have conflicting priorities?
- Previous tool expiration date: Do you have a hard stop date on a previous intranet system? For example, if your previous intranet ends on Dec 31st, then your target launch date for your new intranet must precede that date.
Intranet project activities
There are a few activities that are critical to a successful intranet implementation. You could rely on a project planning template, but we recommend planning your project inside your new intranet. Your intranet has a calendar, a space for meeting notes, and documentation storage. Plus, it gives your project leaders hands-on experience with the new software. Here’s an example:
1. Content inventory and Migration
The first activity to tackle is a content inventory; it’s a crucial step when migrating content later on. You can read about content migration, and also download ThoughtFarmer’s intranet content migration spreadsheet to help you with the transition. Content inventory and content migration are very important, so don’t rush through or avoid any of these steps.
2. IA Design
After you’ve completed a content inventory, the next step is to start working on an Information Architecture (IA) design. This step involves planning the structure of your content and establishing what your intranet navigation will look like. The goal is to make the content as findable as possible. A lot of our clients consult the ThoughtFarmer Professional Services team to guide them through this process. But if you choose to tackle this on your own, we have a great How-to Guide for Intranet Content Audits.
The look and feel of your intranet should reflect your company and its unique culture. A meaningful, well-designed intranet brand will encourage adoption and engagement. Steps include: coming up with a name for your intranet, working on logos, and defining color guides. For more information, see Three Ways to Define your Intranet Brand.
4. Performance Measurement Planning
A measurement plan is essential before launching your intranet. Skipping this step is a very common mistake we see. It’s worthwhile to define key measurements you want to track on an ongoing basis and set up the right measurement tools to report them. For tips on how to create benchmarks for your intranet, we recommend reading The Best Intranet Metrics Measure Business Outcomes, or 8 Key Intranet Metrics You Should be Tracking.
5. Launch and Communication Planning
The next step is launch and communication planning. This is where you plan, produce, and execute your launch and internal communications strategy for the intranet. There are several different launch approaches:
- Phased (pilot) approach
- Company-wide launch
- Launching your intranet in conjunction with another company event, such as a merger or yearly town hall meeting
However you choose to launch your intranet, one of the main objectives is to invoke excitement around the new tool, so be creative and have fun with it!
To encourage strong and sustained intranet adoption your intranet users need to understand how to use their intranet. Training can happen at different times for most users, however, intranet managers should be trained as early as possible.
After considering all of these steps, you might be wondering: how long will an intranet project timeline take? Here is a rough estimate based on some of our clients:
- Content Inventory: 2-4 weeks
- IA Design: 2-3 weeks
- Branding: 1-2 weeks
- Content Migration: 4-6 weeks
- Performance Measurement Planning: 2-3 days
- Launch Planning: 1 week
- Training: 1-2 weeks
Setting out a clear intranet project timeline at the beginning of your implementation makes all the other steps so much easier!
Good luck with your project and get in touch if you’re looking for help implementing your intranet.
Need a quick refresher on what you learned throughout the series? Polish up on determining your project deliverables in Project Planning 101: Part One. Remind yourself how to effectively resource for your intranet implementation project in Project Planning 101: Part Two.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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