10 Steps to Planning Your Intranet Project

author Michael Christian, December 22, 2009

During early phases of intranet deployment, we are frequently asked by our clients “what do I need to prepare or plan in advance to guarantee a successful intranet deployment project”.

In our opinion, an intranet project is all about dialogue. It’s a dialogue between ‘us’ the software vendor with our expertise and know-how, and ‘you’ who knows the most about your business or organisation.

Step1. Setup a Goal

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The first step is determining the goals of your Intranet project. Why do you want your intranet to achieve? Some typical reasons:

  • Improving and providing a communication and collaboration tool
  • Our existing Intranet is old and dysfunctional
  • Distribute corporate news (electronic newsletter)
  • Providing self service staff contact details which are always up-to-date
  • Make our company policies and procedures available online
  • Sharing documents online instead of using shared drives
  • Enabling staff to work from home
  • Better searching and easier way finding key documents

Step2. Define the scope & audience

Have you got an answer to the following questions?

  • Is it just an Intranet for staff or it is also an extranet for partners and contractors?
  • Do you want to allow your staff access to the intranet even when they’re at home or client’s site?
  • How about mobile access?
  • Have you asked representative from each department on what they want to see or get on the Intranet?
  • How people currently finding information, which you think should be on the intranet? What are their common pains?
  • Would you like to store sensitive information on the Intranet such as payroll ?
  • What about chat and commenting? How open is your company culture?

Step 3. Build a SiteMap

Build a sitemap, using your favorite tools such as Visio or simply hand-drawn, create a draft of the Intranet’s sitemap, typically the main branch is represented by each department, you can see various examples below:

Example Sitemap with colour coded permission

Example Sitemap with colour coded permission

Example of Intranet Site Map using colour to identify launch phase

Example of Intranet Site Map using colour to identify launch phase

Step 4. What are key application you want to use?

This step is simply determining the main applications you’d like to use on the Intranet; Claromentis provides these following applications,  you can simply choose the ones you’d like to use:

News and Blog– Share and distribute company news and blog
Documents – Document collaboration with version control
Publish – Page creator, a content management system
People – Self service personnel database
Calendar – Shared company calendar
Image Gallery – Corporate image database
Bookshelf – Online Policies & Procedures
Policy Manager – Managing lifecycle of the company policies
Holiday planner – manage corporate holiday and absence
Room booking – book a meeting room and office facilities
InfoCapture – Electronic e-forms builder and workflows
Project – Manage project online
CRM – Opportunity Management

Outside these applications we have built many other bespoke applications to suit your needs

Step 5. Understanding Permissions

Permission Group & Role

Permission Group & Role

A scalable intranet should have a strong permission system, it also helps to distribute information easily. For example you may want to have an area where only the people in your department can produce or edit its content while everyone else simply views it.

This can be done easily by setting up permission, ie : Roles, Group and Sub-Groups.

To make our job easier when configuring your system, have you got a Company org-chart available?

Step 6. Create Homepage Wireframe

As you know the homepage is the first page everyone is going to see, it’s worth the extra effort to design this carefully after all it is a gateway to all other the content on your Intranet. Look at several examples for inspiration and decide what you want to see on the homepage, my advice is to keep it clean and simple.

UBS Intranet homepage wireframe

UBS Intranet homepage wireframe

Colchester NHS Intranet wireframe

Colchester NHS Intranet wireframe

Step 7. Budget & Resources

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How many users will be using the Intranet? Many Intranet software vendors  price their products by the number of users.

Hardware: who is going to provide you with the hardware?  If you don’t have any we’re happy to source this for you or you can take the SaaS model.

Have you got an internal project team?  Usually we recommend a project sponsor, an internal project manager as the main contact, a technical contact, and a rep from marketing or communication as a minimum team – smaller companies might have fewer people involved.

Step 8. Timeline

Plan your project timeline carefully.  Each company is different – an Intranet can be deployed from 2 weeks,  to a year, these are some key points worth considering which may cause delays:

  • Sourcing hardware
  • Getting access through your office network
  • Finalising design
  • Updating user list
  • Content population
  • Content migration.

Like everything else in life, execution is quick; preparation is key, so do your homework!

Step 9. Future plans (keep evolving!)

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I’ve seen many intranet projects lose momentum after the initial launch phase. A successful intranet is something that grows over time, start simple and add new features gradually. Learn from user feedback and implement user requests wherever feasible.

Small improvements can make a huge different – it’s like a breath of fresh air. Keep the original team and meet regularly for project reviews and brainstorming of new ideas.

Here are some ideas to think about once you have your initial intranet.

  • Is there any business processes which can be done electronically?
  • Such as overtime request, time cards, new hire.
  • Is there a database, which is currently in Excel, and you think it will be much better if it is an online application?
  • Any existing system, which can be better integrated with the Intranet?
  • Thinking of deploying corporate micro-blogging? Online videos?

Step 10. Do it now!

This final step is the most important of all. You can implement all of the planning you need but without execution it is still just a plan. Get the ball rolling now, gather your team, email them now, start researching or simply drop us a line to discuss your requirement, or book a private tour!

Good luck with your Intranet project!