I built an intranet and now I’m a consultant!
We’ve long said that you should never consider your intranet finished. It’s always a work-in-progress, constantly evolving to meet the constant evolution of your business, employee needs and technology capabilities.
Your personal development is also never finished. And as an intranet practitioner, so much of your personal development can be achieved, working through all the various tasks of an intranet development project. Be it a waterfall big bang or an agile approach, practitioners can learn about platforms, project leadership, content and stakeholder management, budgets and much more through the active delivery of a new intranet (or part thereof!)
And yet we’re seeing a shift best summed up in this tweet from Wedge.
— Wedge ⬛️ (@Wedge) May 12, 2015
This is a very concerning trend and one we have been noticing for the past couple years. To call yourself an intranet practitioner, you’ve really got to experience the development and the business-as-usual phases. You can’t bail out six months or a year after you launched an intranet.
Why is that?
- An intranet is for users: if you’ve never seen how users use it, how can you act for them during development?
- If you’ve never used an intranet, how can you ensure that the back-end build is as user-friendly as you hope the front end is?
- The ROI for the development is only ever realised during the maintenance phase. If you’ve never worked on that, you’re a cost centre never a value-adder.
By building a career on intranet launches you may be well versed in the development of an intranet, but you are no expert and shouldn’t be saying you are. Experts dedicate themselves to be knowledgeable in all aspects of their field. They put themselves on a path of continual improvement and build their extensive knowledge or ability based on research and experience.
Or, are you actually a contractor?
There are those exceptions when it is time you move on from your current role due to internal politics, colleagues, budget or personal situation. Creating a one stop shop consultancy isn’t necessarily the next career step. It may be attractive to repeat the tasks you know well, but like all addictions it can become an unhealthy obsession. If you have only launched intranets are you really fit to consult a company vastly different from your experiences on a major change programme?
Don’t be a one-trick pony
Intranet launches may get all the glory, but the true reward lies in the minefields of maintenance. Staying at an organisation to see the full life cycle of your intranet is not only challenging and rewarding; it’s where you are about to learn something invaluable. It will not be easy, it will actually test you, your skills, your endurance and your passion. You may find colleagues who were once your biggest advocates will have no time for you. Your sponsors will change. Your governance framework will need to evolve. You will need to completely change the information architecture whilst still trying to crack the search rubik cube all with zero budget and no resources.
It may sound awful but you will learn more than you could ever dream because you kept with it, you didn’t give up and you reinvented your intranet.
We are here to help
If you are considering leaving your current role because intranet maintenance doesn’t excite you, take another look. All four of us have experienced the highs and lows of intranet maintenance and we can say that you haven’t even begun to get to the good stuff.
To encourage more people to stick with intranet maintenance Intranetizen will be publishing posts over the next few months about the life cycle of intranets and our handy list of tops and tricks to keep you sane.
What do you want to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below.