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When’s it time to quit your intranet job?

In her post last week, Dana talked about the virtues of sticking around and seeing your intranet develop, grow and thrive. But, being the contrary lot that we are, I’m here to tell you why that might not be such a good idea.

Getting to the ‘big bang’ launch is the hardest but most noticeable part of the journey. Your users and stakeholders will visibly notice something has changed, and they’ll like it.  You might have budget for a comms campaign to tell everyone why the thing you made is awesome and everyone should use it. The big bang year is the year you’ll be the company golden child and get a decent bonus, and the year you should probably submit for external recognition.

Thereafter, things get more complicated. As Dana notes, there’s always much more to do; the real ROI for intranets can come in this later phase, when you move beyond getting the basic platform in, to those processes and tools that help people do their jobs – the kind of things often highlighted by James Robertson as making intranets essential. Improving your metadata so content is easy to find is the kind of thing that makes users happy – but not the kind of sexy achievement your CIO will make a song and dance about.

What if you’re stuck in a company where as soon as an intranet’s launched, your bigwigs consider it ‘done’ and want to move to simple maintenance?

You have two choices:

Fight

As the person who knows the intranet and your users best, it’s your job to make the case for further investment. Highlight where the intranet works well – proving your success at delivery – but also where there is more work to be done. Make the business case by sharing examples of what others have done, and how it’s delivered improved engagement/productivity. Explain why the long wow is better than the big bang, and why they need to keep on making small changes rather than falling into the ‘intranet as project’ trap.

Flight

On the other hand, you also need to take care of number one. The time when you’ve delivered a shiny new intranet is when your stock is highest, both inside and outside your company. You might even have won an award or two, recognising your hard work and skills. At this point the recruitment consultants may well come a-knocking, and you might also find that, having shown you can deliver, you’re lined up for a juicy project or role internally.

As Dana’s already made the case for option 1, I’ll focus on the circumstances in which you might want to consider option 2:

a) You have a better offer externally

You would be a fool not to at least consider it. Intranet skills are very much in demand, particularly if you’ve got experience rolling out a complex social or transactional platform. This could be your chance to bag a dream job, move sectors, up your salary (or possibly even all three), while getting a new challenge. Jumping ship could be great for your career long term.

b) You have a better offer internally

This could be worthwhile too. Many of our readers report moving from successful delivery of an internal web project to one delivering websites or enterprise services. This is many ways a perfect result – getting the pleasure of a new challenge with the familiarity and security of your existing firm. And you might well find yourself back on your first love, your intranet, before too long, as demands for new services grow.

c) You don’t have a better offer, but you like the glory of the launch phase

Really? The late nights? The endless stakeholder arguments? The arguments over what goes on the homepage? You need to have a serious word with yourself.

d) You tried option one already, but try as you might, your board is having none of it and for the next year you have a BAU budget of £25 and a piece of string

At this point you need to ask yourself what the benefits of staying might be. If there’s really no chance of further investment, then the successive couple of years you’ll move from being the person who delivers to the person who can’t. You might find some ways to improve your site at little or no cost, but without senior support your room to manoeuvre may well be limited, and before too long you cold find yourself bored, under-utilised and becoming de-skilled.

If your intranet project has recently come to an end, you need to ask yourself – what can I gain from staying and working on this some more? If you’ve got support and resources, your best bet may be to stay where you are, as you take your intranet from strength to strength with iterative improvements. But if you’re not guaranteed either, then you’re in a perfect position to find an exciting and rewarding new challenge elsewhere.




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