Gimme! Gimme! Gimme my intranet page!

You received a call, or an email, or someone stopped by your desk (neatly ignoring the submission form you have on your intranet), asking you to create them a page or team/project site. And, they don’t just ask for a page, they demand it!  Disinterest may be an intranet manager’s biggest challenge, but over-enthusiastic demands run a close second.

Let’s not be too cynical; it’s great news that colleages see the intranet as important. You might also, for a brief moment, feel a small glimmer of hope that they really thought this through. In reality, your colleague (or, more likely, their manager) has decided they need a page and they need it NOW, but they don’t really know what they need it FOR.  As the intranet manager it is your role to ask the hard questions; to challenge their request. But, how do you go about this without squashing their enthusiasm?

Did that sound like a typical scenario to you? Have you experienced this on numerous occasions? Sometimes the request is easy. Within two minutes you already know this page or site is needed on the intranet and should be added right away. Those are the no-brainers where everything just clicks and your content owner and you are on the same page.

But, what happens when a colleague comes to you and they have it all wrong? They want a page for the sake of a page and they really haven’t thought through the purpose or goals or how it fits into the overall strategy of the intranet. This is where you come in – you’re the intranet expert, and you can’t really expect many your colleagues to think this way. That’s your job. How do you start?

Rather than lecturing them on how far off the mark they are (because no one likes a smart-ass), begin the conversation by asking some questions. Here’s some questions the Intranetizen team put together to help start your conversation:

What has changed?

What event has happened, or is about to happen, that warrants this new content?  Is it entirely new or related to (or replacing) something that already exists. Ask questions like:

  1. Why didn’t we have this page before?
  2. Is there an area on the intranet that is similar to this initiative/topic?
  3. Where have we published things like this in the past?  Did that work?

Who cares?

Try to find out if anyone will ever read or use the content. Unread content is better unpublished.  Does the content meet any user goals? Ask:

  1. Who is the primary audience?
  2. What business unit and/or region does this affect?
  3. Has anyone ever complained they can’t find this information? Is there evidence people are searching for it?
  4. What will this page allow people be able to that have haven’t been able  to before?

What’s in it for the business?

Is there a business case? Does this content meet any business goals? Does it drive a desired behaviour? Ask:

  1. What is the purpose of the page/site?
  2. What information do you want to display?
  3. What is the call to action?
  4. Does this fit into the intranet vision and strategy? (your colleague may need your help on this)

Do you promise to love and care for this page?

Every new page on the intranet makes the rest of the intranet worse. More pages mean more clutter. The search engine has to struggle more and the navigation gets a little longer or more complex.  If there’s a good reason to add something, make sure it doesn’t outstay its usefulness. Ask:

  1. Who is the business owner? Who is the content owner?
  2. Who will be managing the area after launch?
  3. When can we set an expiry date or archive date for this content?

By asking the above questions you are not discounting your colleague’s request, but evaluating the best course of action. You may want to scream back, ‘No, that is a stupid idea!’ but you can’t. Or, we wouldn’t suggest it. Put the pressure back onto your colleague. If they push back and aren’t willing to answer your questions, then they really don’t need that page. If they do take the time to answer the questions and debate them with you, then you know with a bit of work you can create an area on the intranet that achieves what your colleague wants and what your end users need.

Have you tried this approach before? Is there a question we haven’t asked? Let us know!


There are 12 comments

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  1. Luke Oatham (@Luke_Oatham)

    Great post, excellent advice.

    One response that we often get is “policy XYZ states that we MUST make this information available to staff”. Our comeback is “but policy XYZ doesn’t state that it MUST go on the intranet”.

    • @danaleeson

      Thanks Luke, I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      We have the same situation where I work. It is good to challenge your colleagues but sometimes you have to let it go for the greater good.

      For example, due to the infrastructure at my organisation and how our regional offices are set up, it does make sense to have policy XYZ on the Intranet (due to it being the only platform that everyone can access). This is what I have learned and had to work with.

  2. Louise

    Oh so familiar!

    We created, under much duress, a site for a department. Six months later the daily traffic was lower than the number of people in the department. Such a waste!

    These questions are very similar to the framework we started using soon after. We called it the Dogbert plan for no good reason that I can recall.

  3. Peter Richards

    Wonderful post Dana on a subject that all Intranet Managers would be familiar with. I like the idea of having a formalised questionnaire prepared for anyone who wants an information section or team site created. The answers received can them be compared to a set criteria and if the criteria is not met then the intranet may not be the best place for the content. This strategy only works for the Intranet Manager who has excellent management support and the ability to say NO.

    • @danaleeson

      Very true Peter.

      Thankfully if an Intranet Manager has done their research and can back up their arguments with facts and figures then they have a stronger leg to stand on. Saying that, an Intranet Manager also has to recognise that even the best arguments can be lost due to politics. Sometimes we just have to roll with the punches.

  4. Zeb

    Great post 🙂 One of the ones I always get is “X leader wants this because it’s strategically important to them.” To me this is horrible because they’re using management to push across their agenda. I do all of the above, but sometimes it’s a case of who can shout loud enough.

    • @danaleeson

      Ha! Too true Zeb. In one meeting I actually had to say, ‘I am not the enemy, we are on the same side.’

      It’s hard because we are all passionate about our intranets and don’t want silly politics to ruin what we have worked night and day on. I hope you don’t have too many meetings where you need to shout! 😉

    • @danaleeson

      Lol, sorry Peter! Now you know what song was stuck in my head when I was writing this post!

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