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Building a developmental intranet team

It’s a common question, often asked, with no perfect answer: “What’s the right formation for my intranet team?”. The response will differ each time and is defined by many criteria, not least your budget, the size of the organisation and the skills available to you. Importantly, it’ll also depend if you’re planning a major overhaul of the site, or simply maintaining and existing site. Whilst most intranet teams wish they didn’t have an “intranet as a project” mentality, it’s an inevitability in many organisations.

In a series of  Intranetizen posts, we’ll explore the makeup of intranet teams. Today we’ll take a look at the format of a developmental intranet team, set up to redevelop an existing corporate intranet. You’ve hired the agency, now it’s time to get to work.

Getting the right team of people, with the right mix of skills, is a critical part of the process. Here are the key constituencies you’ll need.

IT

We believe it’s short-sighted to consider building a new, or re-developing an old, intranet without having your IT colleagues by your side as you’ll need them for a few key skills. Consider these key topic areas:

  • Software and software compatibility (licensing and more)
  • Hardware (servers)
  • Networking (bandwidth provision)

Change Management

It’s very likely indeed that your new intranet will be a significant change for your employees and so we believe that securing the skills of change management will be a boon.

  • Identify what’s changing (to inform communication plans)
  • Identify who’s affected (to ensure communications hit the right people)
  • Identify training needs (where simple communications will not suffice)
  • Identify people who’s role might be significantly affected by the change

Project Management

Project Management is a skill in itself. If you’ve got a big new intranet project on your hands, employ a specialist. Whilst the agency you hire (if you hire one) will bring their own project manager with them, it’s advisable to have someone inside your company to cajole your colleagues into action.

HR

You’ll need HR on your development team for one of two potential reasons. Firstly, many people consider that intranets are evolving into a digital workplace, providing access to communication, collaboration and transactional tools and information for your employees. If your intranet is becoming the gateway to HR tools, you’ll have HR on your team.

But there’s more. Call on HR to help if any of these headlines apply to your work.

  • Union issues, maybe as a result of home access
  • Any significant job changes as as result of new intranet-based processes

IT Support

Make sure representatives of IT Support are included in your project from the start as the extra head on the project board will pay dividends in the long run.

  • Provide insight during product development which will reduce service needs once launched
  • Have a ‘ground-up’ understanding of the system which will improve their ability to assist employees in need

Learning and Development

When my bank changes my online banking service, they do not invite me to a full-day course on how to use the system and nor do they send me a manual on their new product. It’s understood, by both parties, that there will be no training and that the tool they provide must be utterly intuitive.

The same holds true for your intranet. If you’re proposing sending employees on a course to help them understand how to use your newly launched intranet, then you probably need to invite some usability experts to your project board. However, L&D can be fantastically useful to your team.

  • Provide insight into employee learning styles and existing knowledge to assist with product development
  • Create on-screen prompts, run social enterprise ‘help sessions’, develop FAQs

Communications team

At some point, you’ll want to populate your new intranet with some beautiful, rich, compelling content and it’ll likely be your communications team that will take the lead here. Beyond content provision, there’s much that your communications team can do for the project before the go-live.

  • As the key users of the content management back end, they must assist with CMS development and usability
  • Clarity of navigation, section headlines and other intranet furniture – really important to remove ambiguity and improve understanding
  • Supporting or driving stakeholder communications as an output of change management

Usability, Accessibility and Design Experts – the Web Team

It’s a browser-based solution, so you had better include the web experts from the start.

  • Understand the business goals and goals of the end user.  There is little point in  meeting only one set!
  • This should lead to a vision and strategy – and hopefully some scenarios of how you want and expect your intranet to be used
  • Structure – create a place for everything and give everything its place. This would include the page layout, information architecture, navigation, etc etc
  • Do the colouring in. Make things look nice, make the right stuff stand out, stop things from appearing to be cluttered or broken, create some constancy and design rules for the future – a style guide, etc

Legal

Like it or not, there are lots of laws which apply to intranets and getting your head around them early by involving legal will help you smooth these issues over. For full details, do see our post on the law and intranets, but here are the important headlines with which they can assist.

  • Copyright, trademarks
  • Defamation
  • Privacy and Data protection
  • Equality and Accessibility
  • Monitoring and analytics

Summary

Getting the right people around you is the first step to intranet success. The focal areas we present above — IT, Change Management, HR, IT Support, L&D, Communications, Web and Legal — should ensure that you’re surrounded by the right people, providing the right expertise to deliver an excellent product for your company.

How many people you have in your team, be it one from each category or a variation, is entirely up to your budget, company needs, geography and company culture. Maybe they’re all one and the same person?

Tell us what you think — who have we missed?

 




There are 6 comments

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  1. Mark Morrell

    Great post! I think you have covered most of the key skills and experience needed. I would consider someone from Security for two reasons.

    1. Their input in vital if intranet users will be mobile or working from remote locations.
    2. If you don’t involve them they can make your life difficult at a later stage!

    Mark

  2. Martin Risgaard

    Very comprehensive list. I would consider if I REALLY need all these people to be part of the project itself or if some should be kept in the information loop.

    I miss something about system architecture. If you are trying to create a hub for all employees, you will need to find out how the intrranet fits in the bugger picture and how you create intelligent (+pragmatic) integrations. The last thing you – and everyone – want is a pile of competing ‘portals’.

    • @DigitalJonathan

      I can say from my experience that having representatives of these departments as part of the kick-off is critical. From there, the project leader can review how/when these skills should be brought in to the project. For example, change management is an important team component, but is not necessarily needed at all stages.


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