launch an intranet

Creating SharePoint Intranet Governance

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Summary: Intranet governance may sound complicated, but it can help you drive engaging content and decrease the burden of maintenance on your IT and Communications teams. What’s included in the initial governance list will depend on which features you’re using on your intranet. In addition to having an initial set of rules, plan to have an ongoing governance review to update the list.

Intranet governance is simply a list of processes along with responsible parties involved.

Let’s say, someone from HR wants to update an expense form template on the intranet.

  • Who should do it? Whoever is less busy or a specific person?

  • Should we keep an old version?

  • Should we let everyone know about the update? If so, how would we communicate this change.

  • Is everyone on HR team aware how to handle this new template?

  • Should anyone approve the template before it’s published?

  • What happens if employees have questions about the new template and, who should they contact?

As you can see, without these questions answered there are lots potential routes. Having a governance around templates, in this case, will help everyone on the intranet team understand their roles and who’s accountable for what, and the process to follow.

The alternative is to handle each request in ad-hoc way, which increases burden on your resources; in organizations with > 200 users that’s not even sustainable.

What should the intranet governance document contain?

Avoid generic templates of 100 pages worth of SharePoint governance. These are too general to be useful. They provide a lot of details around out-of-the-box features but nothing related to your organization.

It doesn’t take a lot to create efficient governance document of few pages which tackle relevant parts of your intranet.

Here are the key SharePoint intranet governance considerations we see on every intranet project:

  • Sites

    • Creating New Generic Content Site & Team Site. If you have several templates on your site such as project sites, ensure you have checklist for those too

      • Naming conventions (Title and URL)

      • Branding

      • Permissions for Readers, Contributors and Owners. Ensure restricted sites have adequate permissions set up

      • Update to Footer Links, if the site lives under 2nd, or 3rd navigation levels

      • Update to other navigation links and apps

  • Pages

    • Creating a Page

      • Using WIKI versus Site Page

      • URL and naming conventions

      • Determine apps required for the page in this section

      • If apps require dependencies, add them as needed

    • Layout

      • Which page layout to use for which type of the page

        • [One column with sidebar]

        • [One column]

        • etc.

    • Content and Styles

      • Styles for Headings

      • Styles for normal text

      • Font sizes

      • Embedding rules

    • Home Page (this being the most prominent page it needs strict editing rules)

      • Rules about editing the content on the page

      • Rules about changing the layout of the page

      • Rules related to updating key apps on the home page such as new carousels, links, shout outs, polls, etc.

    • Landing Pages (these are the second most prominent types of page; they also need editing rules)

      • Rules about editing the content on the page

      • Rules about changing the layout of the page

  • Apps

    • Apps related to the home page and related rules. Such as ‘do not place more than 10 quick links on the page’, or ‘keep naming conventions of the links on the page’

    • Dependencies for specific apps. For example, whether apps require lists and libraries to operate, what are those, and what is the required metadata

    • Image resolutions for apps to best render their pages

  • Processes

    • Renaming of sites and pages to avoid broken links

    • Alerts on lists which collect user input

    • Versioning rules

    • Content review process

    • Archiving rules

    • Removing obsolete content

Roles and Responsibilities

In intranet contains content from a variety of sources and being able to find out quickly who is responsible for which content is not always so easy.

Every governance document must contain roles and responsibilities when it comes to key areas of running the intranet, those are:

  • Intranet Owners (individuals who own the home page, landing pages, and key areas of the site, they also assign area owners but are not technical users)

  • Area Owners (individuals who control specific areas of the site, such as HR; they also assign Area Authors)

  • Area Authors (individuals who create content for the area of the site)

  • Platform Owners (technical users who monitor and control the platform: Office 365, SharePoint etc.)

For every area in your intranet information architecture, you need to determine who of the above will have which role, including:

  • Who are the key contacts?

  • What is the approval process?

  • What is the support process?

Governance Committee

Governance committee is the key to ensuring your governance evolves based on the lessons learnt and decisions are made quickly to accommodate changes.

To ensure you get the most out of your governance committee, follow these key considerations:

  • Have mechanism to capture issues and feedback.

    • Issues rarely happen randomly, they are likely a pattern or a gap that can lead to more of the same

    • Provide the ability to provide feedback for your users

      • Communicate expected SLA

    • Capture issues in the issues log and determine the patterns

  • Prioritize issues and impact (diagram below illustrates how updates can be prioritized)

  • Determine updates to your governance

  • Communicate governance changes to affected parties: Area Owners, Authors etc

This chart illustrates how proposed governance updates can be prioritized to determine which ones to tackle next.

This chart illustrates how proposed governance updates can be prioritized to determine which ones to tackle next.

Conclusion

The value of governance is its practicality and transparency. The easier it is for everyone to know the process, the less of a burden managing the site will be.

Do you maintain governance plan? What are the challenges you find with it?

Pre-built SharePoint intranet, tailored to your organization in 3-6 weeks.

 
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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

34 Intranet Launch Ideas for the Best Adoption Results

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Summary: Intranet launch is an exciting time for everyone but that success won’t happen on its own. Luckily there are things you can do. We have compiled 28 of the most creative launch ideas we have collected over years, so here they are!

Be sure to scroll to the end for a downloadable bonus !

Before the Launch

This is a second part of the Intranet Adoption Phases series. In the previous post we have covered identifying some of the key challenges and potential areas of resistance. We’ve also talked about the training aspect and importance of being prepared to provide your users with necessary support.

Be sure to check out the previous post in this series in a link above.

Now, onto the exciting part of the journey, the launch ideas!

Launch Day

The most exciting and the busiest day in any intranet’s life - is the launch day. There are few things you can do to make it more effective.

Again, this is a collection of best practices and feel free to pick what better suites your organizational culture.

  • Prepare

    • Be ready to communicate your roadmap since not everything will happen or get launched all at once and you need to be able to communicate future vision.

      • Your users might have different expectations coming from other organizations

      • Sometimes users coming from larger organizations expecting to see larger scope of capabilities and can be disappointed by what you show them on the Day 1

      • Be sure to level set expectations and explain the roadmap and the future vision

    • Test each area and ensure readers have adequate permissions

      • Try not to improvise to much in your training sessions to keep on time and rack and more importantly avoid surprises during the presentation (which always come up on day one)

    • Soft launch with you pre-launch group/influencers

      • This will give you an opportunity to test everything and ensure what you’re about to demo on the launch day, still works as expected

    • Plan logistics on the launch day and if you have remote staff joining, plan the activities for them

      • For remote staff, it’s best to have a site representative run a parallel set of activities and sessions. Alternatively, for a smaller team, you can have remote staff embers join for a video call for the main part of the presentation.

    • Prepare a welcome package/agenda for the day

      • Login information, examples of key landing pages, helpdesk information etc

    • Help champions create strong pages and profiles for their areas and departments to lead with a good example

  • Engage

    • Start with an intranet launch video; humor works great!

      • We have collected a set of some of the great intranet launch video examples here but don’t overthink it, make it align with your organizational culture.

    • Present roadmap and a vision

    • Conduct overview sessions

      • Pause for questions

      • Listen and be ready to capture feedback

    • Host an intranet drop in lounge with snacks and drinks for an informal Q&A

      • This is great if you’re planning to have a one or two short sessions and have colleagues informally join for Q&A

    • Run a scavenger hunt or an intranet bingo

      • The way this works is you ask people to find something on the intranet and whoever finds it first gets a point, similar to bingo. This is great but requires a bit more planning than informal lounge idea

  • Communicate

    • What’s next and how the intranet will evolve

      • There will always be staff members who will have questions about very future state of the intranet. They are likely coming from larger environments and bring some of the expectations with them. Don’t feel overwhelmed with future state questions and don’t feel like you have to promise anything.

      • Have a colleague help you take down questions and thank the participant for their point and promise to get back to them and others in one sort or another: such as a follow up post on the intranet! :)

    • What to expect over the next little while

      • Set the expectation that some areas of the site are still being populated and will require a bit of patience.

      • Be sure to actually follow up on the areas that are still “under construction“ otherwise you will loose the trust of your users

    • “We’re listening and evolving“ and how to get a hold of the intranet team

      • Ensure the intranet team is accessible and available and you have a process of how you will capture the feedback and respond to questions. Ensure you monitor the email alias and action the feedback.


        In Origami, we use intranet ideas and feedback tool, see below, to collect user feedback.

 
intranet ideas and feedback tool.PNG
 

Continue Engagement

Adoption continues beyond the launch day, so here are activities we collected for the continued engagement.

poll.PNG
  • Measure

    • Run targeted surveys to measure pain points and feedback

    • Polls - great to capture quick snapshop of what people think about the intranet

    • Office 365 Analytics - view what’s the usage and adoption of your site to determine the areas of opportunities. Check out the adoption analytics available in office 365

  • Engage

    • Conduct Lessons Learnt session

      • After few weeks to a month, you’d like to know what went right and what went wrong and how you can improve. Be sure to schedule time in your calendar to review the usage and experience with your key stakeholders and influencers.

    • Run regular Lunch and Learns to help people get up to speed learn a trick or two

    • Recognize top contributors in Shout Outs or Kudos tool

    • Promote media and content from major company events right on your intranet:

      • Offsite photos and materials

      • Leadership events

      • Success stories

      • Employee centric news: day is life of …

      • Photo of the day contest

    • Make it remote and mobile-accessible. If you’re using Office 365 and your organization’s policies don’t say otherwise, making your intranet mobile accessible is a given!

  • Evolve

    • Expand on the available content templates, perhaps new department sites etc

      • As you grow, users will challenge you with the new functionality required for their departments and sites. This is natural and ensure you plan for those changes in your roadmap as your intranet evolves

    • Build more content policies such as moderation and commenting policies so that more functionality can be enabled in your site

      • Interactive functionality is great but be sure to have a policy to back up moderation and privacy. This is especially relevant for larger organizations.

    • Allow moderated feedback such as peer recognition or a marketplace

      • Provided you have a policy in place if applicable

    • Make most commonly used links available on the intranet as quick links

    • Welcome new employees on the intranet

      • In Origami, customers like to use our Kudos tool for this functionality

    • Publicize your intranet goals

      • Usage stats (this and many more are available in the Office 365 Adoption Dashboard, so be sure to check it out to gain valuable insight on how your intranet is adopted)

      • Collaboration stats (same as above)

      • Time saved daily

    • Refresh the header with an new image around seasons or key events

By refreshing the background or a header image you can create a fresh new look and more attention to your home page at no cost

By refreshing the background or a header image you can create a fresh new look and more attention to your home page at no cost

Conclusion & (Bonus!)

Gather excitement and engagement with your newly launched intranet by employing all the tools available to make an impact. Remember that much of the success is not just the launch itself but keeping continuous engagement by following through with your roadmap and constant evolution of the site.

Good luck, and if you’d like to ideas on what worked for you, leave a comment below!

BONUS: Register to get our latest Intranet Launch Worksheet!

Name *
Name
 
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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

Intranet Launch Check List and Activities

Everyone is usually on board and excited when new intranet gets designed. With workshops underway, decisions are made, and exciting new features are being added to the list. To make sure this excitement translates into a successful launch, we've build a checklist so nothing important gets forgotten. Since we constantly refine our checklists over time, if you have tips that worked well for you, be sure to leave your comment and we'll add it here.

Content Authoring Checklist

In this phase, typically happening over 15-30 days in a medium sized organization, content authors step in to ensure all of their content is in right places. By this time, the intranet should be ready to go, no testing or fixes should be happening unless they are critical.

Pre-requisities

  • Content Authors for each area of the site are identified

    • Obviously, before any content can be authored, you need to know who the authors are

    • We've got a whole article on helping you identify Content Authors in step 5 of [7 Steps to Effectively Introduce Intranet]

  • Assign Content Author to the area they're responsible for

  • Determine schedule and timeline for the content authoring and migration

  • Permissions for Content Authors are set

    • Before your content authors can start creating pages and adding content, they need to have adequate permissions as designed during your planning sessions

  • Content Author training has been provided and materials available

    • Authors need to know how to work all the widgets they need

    • We like to provide videos along so that authors can always go back and clarify things they didn't catch

    • Written instructions can also be helpful but we find are used less if the system is designed well and videos are comprehensive

  • Draft content and sections created

    • Though some consider this optional, we're pretty strongly convinced that you can't supply Content Authors with a blank site and tell them to build pages. We like to include templates for sites and pages. From here it only takes minutes to get the writing started.

Remember, your Content Authors should not be experts in content management systems to create content for their business areas

Activities

  • Authors create content for each of the main areas and landing pages

    • These areas are highly visible so everything here needs to be crisp

  • Migrate content from legacy systems if applicable

    • This includes automatic migration and manual migration

    • If you're doing automatic migration, ensure each area is identified and responsible party assigned

  • Measure completion progress and velocity

    • Ensure you're on track with content activities by measuring your progress against the schedule

If you don't have the schedule for your content authoring activities, you are likely not going to launch on time or your site will be incomplete at the time of the launch.

Support Activities

Your IT support plays a huge role when it comes to successfully launching your intranet. Here are the key items on the checklist which ensure your users are well supported on day one:

  • Ensure the site has ability to capture users' feedback

    • Whether it's a form on a home page or support page, users need to be aware of how they can submit feedback, otherwise they will call or email helpdesk

  • Ensure you know how monitor user feedback

    • Some issues are urgent and some can indicate a big problem on a raise. Make sure you have a plan to monitor and action all the relevant feedback

  • Have a Help and Support strategy

    • This is crucial especially right during the launch, users need to know how to raise critical issues and get help, otherwise they will feel helpless and frustrated

Don't let your support strategy be an afterthought

  • Prepare to lock old content repositories as read only with links to redirect to new content areas

  • Book support resources for the week of launch

    • First few days of launch are the busiest so plan for that by booking extra time and overtime for your support staff

Project Management Activities

Here are activities for the executive leadership and the project manager:

  • Content area champions are identified

    • These are your peer support resources in various business areas to help with the change management aspect

  • Initial communication is sent to the rest of the organization

    • Don't solely rely on champions, make sure you clearly message the launch within the organization

  • Intranet naming contest

    • If you're considering a new name for your intranet, take advantage of the naming content few weeks before the launch

  • Plan for the launch day

    • Executive presentation with [where we are in the roadmap]

    • All staff training

    • Scavenger hunt

After the launch

  • [SUPPORT] Monitor feedback and have a triage plan for variously severity issues

  • [CONTENT AUTHORS] Maintain fresh content

  • [LEADERSHIP AND PM] Review Analytics (quantity and quality)

  • [EVERYONE] Iterate through tweaks

Hope this helps in with your next launch. Post your ideas and comments below.

Minimize risks by using pre-built, flexible SharePoint intranet.

 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

The Subtle Art of Making a Great Intranet: A HR Perspective

If there’s one thing many case studies agree on is that intranet project is a team effort. The more subtle truth is that anyone can be the initiator and key driver.

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Whether you’re in corporate communications, HR, IT, or a specific business unit, you’ve got the power to successfully initiate an intranet project and build a digital workplace.

What happens next is a methodical set of activities to see it through completion.

Here is the perspective of how an intranet project got its roots in HR at a manufacturing company. Elena Bobyreva, Director of HR at Peak Products shares her valuable insight in my recent interview with her:

Background and Intranet Project Roadmap

  • [YP] Why an intranet?

  • [EB] What I like about intranet is that it helps our company to deliver information to the employees and internal stakeholders as well as collect their feedback. It is a forum for employees to communicate and connect and that builds engagement.

  • [YP] What was used previously at your company?

  • [EB] Previously we relied on emails, phone conferences or calls, and in-person meetings.

  • [YP] What were top things important to you in your intranet?

  • [EB] News and updates - a consistent place for company information to keep employees in the know.
    Employee Announcements - to keep everyone in the loop on who’s joining the team, who’s being recognized for their achievements, etc. This section was adopted quite quickly, we started seeing responses, comments, and likes right away. We see people from different departments recognize people from other parts of organization which encourages the culture of collaboration and performance.
    Polls and Surveys - one of our tools to give voice to our employees.
    Finally, informational sites for things like [Benefits and Career Opportunities], and a dedicated section for new hires to help them onboard with the company.

Intranet Project Planning

  • [YP] What were some of the challenges you had to overcome to get a buy-in for the project?

  • [EB] It was important to present decision makers with facts and numbers to help them understand the importance and value of the intranet.

  • [YP] What were some of your strategies?

  • [EB] I have seen and worked with many intranets before but there were parts needing expert input.

Sample Twitter poll launched externally

Sample Twitter poll launched externally

First strategy was to determine the pain points. We launched an employee survey to collect the feedback at all levels about everyone’s communication needs, and pain points. We received a lot of ideas on potential solutions. The response was very positive towards having a tool like an intranet.

From there, our next step was to work with an expert to understand how everything fits together in terms of the process, features and capabilities so that decision makers see the return on investment.
These two were key to build a compelling business case.

  • [YP] Were the benefits you presented more along the lines of “time saved at work” or more soft benefits such as “reducing siloes”

  • [EB] It was a bit of both. Numbers are important and so are qualitative benefits related to eliminating errors through collaboration. We also put an emphasis on reducing the volume of emails to help people with time management.

  • [YP] How did you arrive at SharePoint Online as a platform?

  • [EB] We used Office 365 Platform already for email, so SharePoint Online was a natural choice.

Process

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  • [YP] What was the process around building the intranet?

  • [EB] First, we started by clarifying roles and responsibilities of who will create and maintain the content on the intranet. This formed our core team. Then, we moved on to brainstorm what is needed on the intranet and what employees told us they want to see based on the survey we collected earlier.
    We then engaged in a workshop with a cross-functional group of employees and the SharePoint expert to select the right features we need to deliver the content.

  • [YP] What were the constraints?

  • [EB] Whatever features we chose, they needed to be easy to maintain so that the learning curve for new content authors is smooth. Also, the design of the site needed to reflect company’s external website and brand.
    Finally, we needed something that we can maintain in-house with our own resources. We needed to ensure the system is supportable and maintainable.

Intranet Adoption

  • [YP] How did you roll out the site?

  • [EB] The content was reviewed and approved by the key stakeholders. Once that was completed, we soft-launched the site. Gradually we started transitioning communication and sending newsletters highlighting key content on the intranet in various areas. People started getting used to checking the site more and more often.

  • [YP] What are some of the things you’re glad you did when planning?

  • [EB] Having an expert to take us through the process. Going alone would have been much more difficult. Having a matrix of who will maintain the intranet and draft, author, and approve content was crucial because it gave everybody clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

  • [YP] What’s Next?

  • [EB] Having a co-author or someone who shares passion for driving interesting content and engaging people. Move more content and processes to the intranet, things like reports, documentations, guidelines, LMS.

In summary, Elena captured an opportunity to bring digital to an existing workplace and highlighted those benefits to her leadership. One of the tools she used to back up her assumptions were employee surveys. This has remained on the agenda all the way throughout each brainstorming session and every decision made.

When employees see that their feedback is brought to action, it builds trust and buy-in, even if decision making team is a much smaller group.

Using the insight from Elena and how Peak Products benefited, see how you can kick off a transition like this in your organization.

What area of the business are you coming from? Are there items not considered in this post you'd like to mention?

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky