Why Building an Intranet Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Intranets don’t blossom into fully functional tools overnight. Here are strategies to keep you focused and sane during the marathon development process.

By Cathy Dew

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have your brand-new intranet up and running by tomorrow? If the entire intranet roadmapping and development process took only a matter of hours? While these fantasies are nice to think about, they are also just that: fantasies.

The truth is that building an intranet is a marathon, not a sprint. Before you put in any work on your intranet roadmap or spend a dime on consultations with an intranet expert, you need to acknowledge that you are embarking on a long-term project. To get to the end of that project successfully, you need to be patient and embrace flexibility. Otherwise, you will either drive yourself mad or end up bailing on your intranet before it is complete.

The length of the intranet development process is often the most challenging part of the process. It’s difficult to plan something that will take 6-18 months. Employees can leave in that lapse of time. Companies can develop new needs. Technologies can shift. How can you take the long view and plan for a marathon intranet project if you can’t foresee these complicating factors—let alone plan for them?

Below, we’ve outlined a few tips you should keep in mind going forward. These strategies will help keep you focused and sane during the intranet development process.



Prioritize and determine a basic project sequence

The sheer length of an intranet project is a challenge, but it’s also probably the biggest reason that most organizations bother with the planning and roadmapping stage. Therein lies the good thing about the “marathon, not a sprint” mentality. Without a roadmap in place, it is frankly impossible to devise an intranet that meets the needs of your enterprise. How can you build an intranet if you don’t know what problems or challenges you are trying to solve with it?

One part of the roadmapping process that you should focus on to make matters easier going forward is prioritization. There is a good chance that you won’t be able to build an intranet that is everything to everyone. You’re working on a budget, after all, and you also must consider what the technology can even do at this point. There are some items you might have to add to your intranet later, and some you might have to live without altogether. Other items, meanwhile, are essentials that you absolutely need to have when your intranet launches.

The intranet roadmapping process gives you the opportunity to figure out where different features and inclusions land on that spectrum. Soliciting feedback from managers and end-users can help you focus on the most significant pain points your organization is facing. From there, you can create a detailed and well thought out intranet priority list. This list tells you exactly where you need to focus your attention (and your money) and will be instrumental in helping you devise a basic project sequence for intranet development and implementation.

Embrace flexibility

Intranet planning and roadmapping are essential stages of the development process. So is project sequencing. However, as the quote goes, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” No matter how much project planning you do, your intranet development process is going to hit snags. Someone you appointed to help steward the project to completion might quit their job and leave your organization behind entirely. One part of the project might cost more than you thought it would, forcing you to re-strategize and re-allocate costs to finish the job on budget. You might realize that you overlooked a key feature you want to include, requiring a revision of your project sequence and more.

The bottom line is that, as an organization, you will continuously be balancing the requirements of your team, your budget, the amount of work and effort necessary to build the intranet, and the technology that is at your disposal. Sometimes, this complex equation can balance out and end up with a solution that looks exactly like you wanted. Other times, you will have to revise your expectations on the fly.

As a result, embracing flexibility is arguably the most important thing you can do as you transition from intranet planning and roadmapping into construction and implementation. You need to plan for things to change, because they absolutely will. How you respond to those changes will determine how quickly you can finish your project, how much money you spend on the process, and how successful your intranet is upon completion.


Don’t be afraid to seek outside assistance

Building an intranet is not something you have to do yourself. In fact, teaming up with a business or specialist that has experience designing and implementing intranets can make your life much, much easier. Not only can these professionals suggest features you may not have thought of for your intranet, but they can also help you formulate a long-term plan that makes sense for the scope of the project. Enterprises often don’t realize the full complexity of building an intranet until they are in the thick of it, hence the misconception that this process can happen quickly. Having someone there to temper your expectations, prioritize your project, delegate responsibilities, and readjust plans over time will help you avoid many of the hurdles and pitfalls involved in intranet development.

Call 2Plus2 for Help with Intranet Roadmapping, Planning, and Development

How long it takes to build and implement your intranet will depend on a variety of different factors, from the size and complexity of the site to the technology you decide to use. In all cases, though, you can expect to be in it for the long haul when you start intranet planning.

Getting in the right mindset for a long-term project will undoubtedly help you get to the finish line. At 2Plus2, we are also willing to lend our advice and assistance. As intranet specialists—particularly in the realm of SharePoint intranets—we can help you strategize in a fashion that makes sense for a marathon project. At 2Plus2, we specialize in helping enterprises like yours build powerful and versatile Employee intranets. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.

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Cathy Dew
Cathy Dew – CEO + Information Architect
Cathy focuses the company on our mission – Real results. Every time. Information architect and strategist, Cathy is passionate about making software work well – the function, the feel, the result.
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