Often the employee communications team is tasked with updating the intranet because IT is upgrading to a new software version or platform, or communications wants to leverage new technology. 

This means rethinking how communications will look, feel and be executed when your intranet is migrated to a new platform like SharePoint. Yet without any idea of what that looks like, and assumptions about the processes and techniques to work with the new platform, communications teams and their internal clients often take a  “lift and shift’ approach - that is, stick to the old communications strategies, processes and methods and just apply them to the new technology. 

However, with the vast changes to the technological landscape in the past few years, and especially since COVID-19, communicators need an improved intranet strategy based on a forward-looking view of the business that takes advantage of the new features and functional capabilities of the new technology.

Here are the steps you need to be successful:

General Planning

Start by gathering a small team that knows your business needs, communications needs, and the new technology inside and out. You’re going to be asking a lot of questions, challenging a lot of long-held assumptions. Be patient. This process is going to require a lot of explanation on all sides as most people's reference point for a new intranet is only what they know from the past.

It helps greatly to use experts who know the new platform as well as employee communications. For example, sales people at Microsoft know their Microsoft 365 platform inside and out. But it's not their specialty to align that solution with your your communications to take advantage of their technology.  Instead, look for a firm that brings all key components to the table: employee communications and deep technology expertise. 

Determine how best to measure effectiveness

Once you have an idea of how the intranet will support your business and act as a communications tool, and how, specifically, you can execute existing processes using the new solution, you can then do some soul searching.

Ask yourself how you'll measure the value of the upgrade effort:

  • Will it increase employee engagement?
  • Create time-savings for your staff?
  • What about the technology costs and support to replace the old software?

Some of these metrics can be sometimes hard to pin down, but the exercise is necessary and well worth it.

Johnson & Johnson who consolidated their fragmented intranet, and Wellcome Trust, who redesigned their intranet for ease of use and search, found that they had measurable improvements as a result, from rave reviews of the new intranet to increased visits to their pages.

Develop a Clear, Compelling, Understandable Vision

Once your general project plan is in place, you need to develop a clear vision of your new intranet.

Determining where your intranet fits into the overall business is the first piece of the puzzle. Discussing your company’s roadmap with executive leadership should give you some key insights into the role that you can play.

Key goals you should consider include:

  • Defining objectives, and a clear understanding of what success would look like
  • Understanding guidelines and standards, limitations and rules
  • Roles and assignments
  • Determining important topics to communicate to employees

Once those discussions have been accomplished, you will be able to communicate the objectives as they form the foundation of the project plan for  the new intranet. 

Execution of the Vision

Your final step will be to execute the vision. Tactical teams will take your idea and make it real. Ideally, you’ll have a working version - often called an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) - of the intranet to use for ideation, feedback and process development. This is where you’ll bring your vision to life.

Expectations will be your biggest hurdle here. A member of your team should be able to take your vision, leverage the capabilities of the platform, and show you how that vision can be achieved - what success looks like. Like a good kitchen renovation, there will be lots of choices about design, placement and flow. Be patient, be open to ideas and with time and patience, you will end up with an intranet to be proud of.

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"Determining where your intranet fits into the overall business is the first piece of the puzzle. Discussing your company’s roadmap with executive leadership should give you some key insights into the role that you can play."

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