By Cathy Dew
Now that you’re convinced that you need a great employee intranet, let’s jump into how to get there... When it comes to developing an intranet roadmap, it’s not enough to know which elements you should include. In our last blog post, we provided a basic step-by-step guide for businesses to use throughout the roadmapping process. From excavating pain points to setting goals to looking at the technology aspect of the intranet, that post discussed many of the core elements and considerations that are necessary for any new intranet.
What we didn’t talk about as much were the logistical questions of the intranet development process. How long will it take to build a new intranet? Once you have a roadmap in hand, how do you go about implementing it? Who needs to be involved in the development process? These questions are all crucial ones, as they can impact the timeline, cost, work intensiveness, and overall burden of the intranet building process.
In this post, we will attempt to answer each of those questions, to give you a better sense of the logistics of mapping and developing an intranet.
How long will the process take?
Unfortunately, this question might be the hardest one to answer. Building an intranet takes time—especially if you are going to end up with a resource that is appropriately curated and calibrated to suit the needs of your organization. Just how long the process takes, will depend on your organization and the state of your resources and processes. Here are a few factors that might impact the timeline for your project:
The amount of work to be done
Are you building a new intranet from scratch, or are you upgrading/redesigning an existing platform? The assumption is that creating a new intranet from scratch will take longer. Converting old systems and upgrading them to meet all your current needs is often more demanding than starting from scratch. Building a brand-new intranet typically takes 6-12 months. Minor improvements or redesigns to an existing intranet will take a comparable amount of time. Substantial reconstruction work, upgrades, or migrations to a new platform could take up to a year and a half.
Whether or not you hire a specialist to help
Are you planning to build your intranet in-house? Or are you going to hire an intranet specialist to help with design, development, and implementation? In most situations, you will be able to move faster if you hire an external specialist. Remember: everyone in your organization—from the IT team to the departmental managers—already has a slew of day-to-day responsibilities already. That’s not to say members of your internal team won’t be involved in building your intranet. On the contrary, they must be included to guarantee the best-finished project. However, having an external specialist or team that can focus specifically on your intranet will increase speed, efficiency, and quality of results.
The choice between cloud and on-prem
Are you thinking about a cloud-based intranet, or do you want a system hosted on-premises? Cloud-based systems tend to be faster to implement and easier to manage. However, if you want or need the extra security and oversight that an on-prem system can provide, you will need extra time to set up the required hardware and find or train a team to set it up and manage it. There’s even a hybrid approach that might be right for you.
Knowing where you land on each of these issues up front will help you move faster through the development process. Therein lies the importance of an intranet roadmap. By figuring out the scope of your project, your preference for hiring an external specialist, and your stance on cloud versus on-prem, you will know which steps to take next.
Who should be involved in the intranet development process?
During the process of building an intranet roadmap, you want to involve as many people in your organization as you can. Talking to managers, team leaders, and employees about their wants, needs, and pain points will give you the details you need to tailor the intranet plan to suit your enterprise.
Who can help?
We've found that it can be helpful to have an external specialist guide your organization through an interactive process to arrive at a sound, comprehensive, representative road map. Once the roadmap is in place, though, who should be involved with the intranet development process?
Moving on to development...
Here again, it just may be helpful to have a specialist external intranet team to partner with for the project. Your specialist will be able to make your roadmap a reality. The will understand your plan and determine who needs to be in the inner circle for development and implementation. Obviously, it makes sense to involve your IT team, as they will need to manage the system going forward (especially if you opt for an on-prem architecture). As we discussed last time, you will also want to engage people to create and manage content for different parts of the intranet, by department or for important resources such as the knowledge center. Having these content contributors involved from the beginning is one of the best ways to both get it rigth in terms of content and start building buy-in and enthusiasm for your new intranet.
What about leadership?
Probably the most important thing you can do, though, is appoint project leaders or “stakeholders” for the development process. These people should be involved in the roadmapping process and should be intimately aware of the goals and expectations for the intranet. They should be leaders within your organization, but not so high up that they have a million other things on their plate. Your project stakeholders will be the ones who communicate with your external intranet specialist. They will also be responsible for making key decisions about the project or approving/rejecting plans or wireframes from the intranet specialist.
Simply put, you need project stakeholders who know enough about the project to make important calls, have the authority to make those decisions without getting superiors to sign-off, and are accessible enough to be reached throughout the workday.
How do you actually build an intranet?
This question is the biggest one of all, and the answer will vary from one intranet to the next. Sometimes, you can use an out of the box solution. Other times, you’ll need to build something almost entirely from scratch. It depends on what your business does and what you need the intranet to do.
Having an intranet specialist to guide your intranet development process will undoubtedly help give you answers on this front. At 2Plus2, we would be happy to take the lead on your project. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.