Considering intranet in-a-box, here are 3 key things to know

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Time to upgrade your intranet?

As Sam Marshal says in CMS wire article : Creating an intranet on SharePoint can be a slow process – six months is good going; 18 months is not uncommon. Shortcutting this process with a readymade solution sounds appealing ...

With many popular intranet-in-a-box solutions it can be confusing which one to pick. The most obvious is to pick a tool which looks the best or has the most features, but there are few more things to consider. We've surveyed professionals to gather insights on what worked and what didn't on their intranet deployments and here are our findings.

Tool is important but so is The Process

Installing intranet-in-a-box and waiting for it to be adopted is just a hope! Many internal community managers agree on that.

The process is the largest contributor to successful adoption. It has to be upfront.

Just as wearing a helmet when biking, it works the best if you wear it before you fall off the bike.

Here are things to consider related to a process:

  • Determine employees/roles that will take care of your new intranet
  • If you have existing content, whether on a fileshare or another system, have intranet-in a-box vendor inventory it and see how it will actually fit in the new system
  • Have your vendor go through feature and prioritization exercise with you. Enabling every single feature in your intranet-in-a-box doesn't mean you have people to manage them. Managing doesn't only mean configuration, it also includes writing content.

Have a roadmap

Rolling out everything at once doesn't give you enough time to consider what's important and which areas deserve more attention. Doing smaller incremental releases will help with that. Same applies to your intranet-in-a-box, it needs a roadmap which is regularly updated so you don't get stuck with a product rapidly deprecating.

Have your vendor take into account your organization needs and help you determine the roadmap on how to get there. Ideally for more complex organizations, you'd want to start with releasing Minimally Viable Experiences (MVE) first and following on from there. There are few ways to determine MVE, our favorite approach is:

  • Show stakeholders examples of what's possible in the product
  • Determine what they like
  • Determine gaps
  • Rank items in the gap according to what brings the best value to end users
  • Determine effort required to implement those gaps
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At the end you will end up with a graphical representations of various components and their feasibility.

You home run items should be the first items to implement where these have the highest impact to the user and technical feasibility is high as well.

 

 

 

 

Launched, now what?

Enabling social tools and features on intranets spawns great engagement from employees, but you have to keep the fire going. In first few weeks of roll out, employees read, rate, and comment on content. To continue this level of engagement you need to plug in your existing organizational culture into the intranet.

It's not always clear, so here are some of the ideas to drive more engagement from your users on a consistent basis:

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  • Start a discussion surrounding a particular company event, such as internal conference, lunch and learn. This will drive interaction between employees. To facilitate the discussion you can write a Featured Article and allow people to comment on it or use tool like Yammer which bring many more social engagement features.
  • Give recognition and praise. As Lesley Crook says: one start given from a leader goes a long way. Having an area where recognition and shout outs are tracked is great. Have a weekly recognition given out by a leader, this will help encourage others and drive attention around company values and individual efforts.
  • Feature interesting content from parts of organization. For example, it can be article from a front line, client success story, "day-in life of ..." story, or story about a recent win. These are great candidates for a featured news article. The key to featured news is that it has to be consistent; once a week is ideal.
  • Survey/Poll for opinions. Poll is great for this, it give employees the ability to voice their opinion in a controlled way. One of the really good ways to boost employee engagement on a poll is to set poll expiry so that employees can cast their vote within 2 or 3 days. If you combine this with regular updates - you'll see users check for a new poll to see what's happening. Another point is to make polls relevant to what's happening within your organization, or a Featured News to make it relateable.
  • Run innovation campaign. Your employees have amazing ideas locked in their head. Having an area for them to submit their ideas is great but running innovation campaign is what creates an engagement. Combine this with Featured Story and drive innovation campaign to re-organize the process, improve tools etc. This can also be organically combined with a poll first to see what would be a great candidate for innovation contest.

Leave your comments on what are some of the things you're curious about and we'll try to get an expert insight on the topic

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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