A new intranet: how to take the first steps

The current intranet needs to be replaced. You've been asked to create a new intranet, but what should you consider when you start? Which colleagues can help you with this? How do you get ideas on paper and select a supplier? In this article, I'll tell you more about this. This article also appeared (chapter 1) in our book “In 7 steps to a successful social intranet”.

Watch the presentation for the highlights:

A new intranet: from traditional to social business

A traditional intranet is organized top-down; it is one-way. On a traditional intranet, for example, you'll find employee profiles, work processes, organizational news, and other static content managed by a selected number of editors.

A social intranet does not replace the need to publish the above information, but adds a add an extra social component. For example, is there organizational news on a traditional intranet? There is still room for organizational news on a social intranet, but an employee can respond to news reports and teams can publish news themselves.

Does a traditional intranet have employee profiles? On a social intranet, employees can edit their own profile and enrich them with, for example, information about their expertise, skills and completed projects. On a social intranet, employees can also work together in teams.

Responsibilities lower in the organization

With the help of a social intranet, you therefore place the responsibility for information lower in the organization. Employees are responsible for retrieving and delivering information. In addition to responsibility, this also gives employees trust.

From various studies it appears that a social intranet can ensure that:

  • employees work more efficiently;
  • productivity is increased (employees spend less time looking for information or colleagues);
  • employee satisfaction is increased;
  • employees are more involved in the organization;
  • innovation is stimulated;
  • it is possible to save on communication costs;
  • the island culture is being broken;
  • hidden knowledge (Tacit knowledge) within the organization is made visible.
A social intranet can, among other things, ensure that employees work more efficiently and that productivity is increased (employees spend less time looking for information or colleagues).

Social business

At its core, social components make large-scale interaction possible, across all layers of the organization. People who don't know each other are connected by topic, question or interest. From that connection, we work together to solve issues and achieve ambitions. That's social business. You can read how this social business has a direct effect on daily work within your organization in our free ebook: Social Works.

And now?

The time has come, you are orienting yourself to a new (social) intranet. But now you still have to convince the rest of the organization. How do you get started? First of all, it is important to draw up a good business case.

Make sure you have a good business case

So obvious, but oh so important: without a business case, you won't get very far. And that goes deeper than “we want to share knowledge” or “we want to work better together”. When preparing a good business case, you shouldn't be too quick to be satisfied with the answer you get in the first place. A successful intranet contributes to what the organization wants to achieve.

Organizational goals are therefore the starting point when preparing a business case for the social intranet. To find out, you keep asking why. See how you can contribute to these organizational goals with the realization and use of a social intranet. Ask your client what his dream is, what ambition can be achieved.

If the goals are clear, that helps with your project. You then have a better idea of what, for example, is a priority and what is less of a priority for the organization. Even more important is that your project runs more smoothly and that you can create leadership involvement in implementation. After all, you solve real problems and help to fulfill the ambitions of organizations. Other benefits of the social intranet are discussed in detail in our free ebook.

Executive role model

An example by the management is essential in gaining support and in decision-making. You can't create that support early enough in the project. Also make it clear what you expect from them. A message like “If you want your people to change, you will have to change first” helps with this.

You can make concrete agreements with the management about, for example, that they themselves respond to questions on a daily basis, that they communicate less via email, or that they write a weekly blog in the form of a “Watch on the week”.

Get the right people involved in your project

Creating a social intranet requires a lot of expertise and input from various departments. When putting the project group together, don't just think of departments such as Communication, HR and IT, as often happens. Also, take a look at the roles that people take outside the hierarchical organizational structure. Who are the most influential people? Who are the early adopters?

Have an engaged and focused project team

We all recognize it, project members who have to go home earlier, project members who can't free up time because they have to do their “real work” and team leaders who can't set aside hours for project members because they are dealing with illness or hustle and bustle in the department. This is a big risk for your project. Request 100% commitment from project members over a relatively short period of time, then you can become a team.

Define your deployment strategy

How are you going to roll out the new intranet to the organization in the future? Will it be a 'Big Bang' or will you start with a small group? Do you want everything to be ready for launch or are you going to expand in small steps? The deployment strategy largely determines how long your project will take and therefore how long it will take for employees to see the new intranet for the first time. We strongly believe in small projects and small, regular development steps.

Use supplier knowledge

Suppliers have a lot of knowledge and experience. The trick is to use that knowledge and experience. We notice that this is sometimes dealt with in a cramped way, often motivated by traditional us — they are images about customers and suppliers or by “interpretation of” tendering or purchasing rules. There is no need for this. As long as you are transparent about what is required of different parties, you can benefit from it in your project and in your selection of a supplier.

A disadvantage of involving suppliers in your project is that you sometimes have no idea what is already possible by default. We regularly see that project phases go overboard, because the standard solution can already do more than what is described in requests.

Suppliers have a lot of knowledge and experience. The trick is to use that knowledge and experience.

Selection process

In your supplier selection process, you can make an excellent distinction between an information round (Request for Information, RFI) and the actual selection based on a Program of Requirements (PvE). If you only work with a Program of Requirements, the context is often unclear to the supplier. We, too, are inclined to answer all questions with 'yes', when commercially necessary.

Proof of concept

We increasingly see that end users have a big say in the actual selection of a social intranet. This is often done by selecting a Program of Requirements and a Proof of Concept (PoC). A PoC is a test environment for the software that the supplier makes available to demonstrate how their product works. The PvE is then more about the main features and a PoC about the functionality offered.

On the basis of a PoC and a number of concrete assignments, end users can test the various software packages and determine their preference. Examples of assignments you can give include: “Create a team for an innovation group and invite people”, “Complete your profile with your areas of knowledge” or “Post a photo or video and ask people to comment on it”.

Want to know more?

In our ebook '7 steps to a successful social intranet'we will delve deeper into the implementation. This article also appeared as a chapter in our book “A successful social intranet in a rapidly changing world”.

This article was first posted on May 26, 2014

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