7 tips for a new intranet manager

New Year, new job? The start of the year can often bring a new professional challenge and maybe yours is a new venture into the world of intranets. If you’re the new head honcho of intranets at Anywhere Inc., or maybe you just want to take a long hard stare at the role you’ve been doing for a few years, here’s our top 7 tips for intranet managers.

Other Tips for New Intranet Managers are available and are also well worth a read.

Tip 1: Listen to — and watch — your users

Any product manager anywhere — except, famously those at Apple — should listen intently to their users. As an intranet manager, your users are your fellow employees and you should invest great efforts in listening to their needs, their gripes, their likes and their wishes.

Listening will elicit the problems they are aware of, watching will help you understand how they really ‘ use’ things. Take time to walk the office and observe. This is the kind of thing you can’t learn from metrics; seeing what people avoid using the intranet for gives you a far more valuable insight into where you need to improve than studying user journeys in Analytics will.

Create the structures to ensure that listening is an active and continuous process, such as online surveys, focus groups and feedback forms. Ensure that you tour your offices, talk and listen. Ultimately you want your intranet to be used by your colleagues. You want them to be active participants and it’s your objective to deliver something they need and will use.

Don’t forget to watch your users too because what people say they’d like and what they actually like are often very different things.  Try spending one morning a month sitting with a ‘real’ end user watching their intranet usage, noting a few key snipets of information.

  1. What are they doing?
  2.  How do they work?
  3. What do they use to help them do their work?
  4. When they do and don’t use the intranet?
  5. What are their key locations on the intranet?
  6. What barriers exist to them using the intranet?

Tip 2: Build a vision of the future and inspire others

If you don’t have a destination, there’s no point thinking about the journey. Step Two’s James Robertson advises intranet managers to keep a list of the six things you want to improve on your intranet in the next year. A roadmap setting out where you want the intranet to be in a year, two years and beyond will help engage stakeholders with the potential it has to offer, and will help you make the case for investment.

Publish this vision on our intranet and open it up for employee comments.

Tip 3: Make good friends with your IT teams

Ah, ok, sometimes it’ll feel like you’re sleeping with the devil! Truth be told, IT are the enablers in this co-operative and you’ll need to work with them to get stuff done. The only exception to this is if you’re in a situation when your intranet is perfect and you have no plans to change it.

In a discussion with a Head of IT for a global company, we learned that IT departments don’t want to be viewed as blockers but often they aren’t told of projects early enough. Befriend key people within the department and ensure the lines of communication are constantly open. They will thank you for it.

Tip 4: Build the right team

For success, you’ll need the right team of people around you to assist you in delivering intranet excellence. There are three types of intranet team — an operational day-to-day team, a developmental intranet enhancement team and a broader governance structure. Each of these will the the topic of a future intranetizen post, but for now, take great time to understand the strengths and skills of the people around you because you’ll need them to get anything done.

Tip 5: Measure everything you can about your intranet

Facts are friendly. Take time to review your analytics as it will give you great insight on how your intranet ticks. Is it well visited? Where do people go? What are the results of their visits? For some further thoughts on intranet measurement, see our post on intranet outcomes.

Tip 6: Get clued up legally

There are lots of laws covering your corporate intranet and it’s wise to get clued up on these before you go too much further. See the ever-popular 10 intranet laws post for more details.

Tip 7: Join the intranet networks

Being an intranet manager can be a lonely place. Given that most companies have just one intranet, you’ll likely find that you’re one of a kind. No one else to bounce ideas off. No-one else to kvetch with. No-one else who really understands the real you.

Bit lonely isn’t it?

Don’t worry, you’ll find that the intranet manager community is very large, vocal, knowledgeable and in the large part, really helpful. There are lots of great intranet networking ideas.