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The need for an independent intranet team

The need for an independent intranet team

Research shows how intranet owners drive the purpose and direction of the intranet, and how budget holders have an overwhelming affect upon strategy.

With a trend toward hybrid governance for multi-purpose intranets, there’s a strategic need for clear governance and for the intranet team to have some measure of independence.

Obianuju Eke (aka, Uju) of Warwick Business School, interviewed intranet managers from eight organisations, and a further 73 organisations took the survey. As ClearBox helped to facilitate the research, we’re able to present the results to you now.

Intranet drivers

Which area of your organisation drives the development of the intranet?

The stage of maturity of the intranet influences ownership. Intranets that have communication as the primary purpose are often driven and owned by traditional departments, like Internal Communications.

In the study, many intranet managers said that having a dedicated budget was a powerful enabler for ensuring that the intranet is developed along strategic lines, rather than favouring a particular group’s / unit’s needs.

Without budget independence for the intranet team, it becomes very difficult for governance to be enforced.

“The person with the budget has the power basically … If I see that a part of the business is creating something through an agency which is breaking all our guidelines and I tell them, they cannot do it, they can claim it’s their money and can use it how they like. If I had the money and they had to come to me and to get approval for their requirements, then I could deal with the agency to deploy something that’s within our rules and guidelines. ” ~ intranet manager, from interview.

When the budget still sits within a particular department though, it can be difficult to take a balanced approach to the needs of the whole organisation.

“The problem with IT having the budget for the intranet is that it shifts the power balance away from the business to the technology people, whose technology strategy and goals the intranet must then adopt…” ~ intranet manager, from interview.

Not everyone agrees, as it’s not always realistic to get a dedicated intranet budget, and so the team has to be grounded in a broader department. Independence itself may not necessary, as intranet drivers can be more about how visionary and well-grounded the leadership of the team is.

The study reinforces a dilemma that many intranet managers experience: that it doesn’t sit comfortably within any single function because a good intranet covers so much of what an organisation does (see also: What flavour is your intranet?).

Maturity affects structure

As the intranet evolves from a broadcast and peer-to-peer communication system into a more capable, collaborative, digital workplace, it requires more versatile, visionary management. A multidisciplinary broader team is needed, and as such, the broader team members won’t sit within a single department.

As this table shows, the more an intranet does, the more dominant the hybrid model becomes over the centralised one.

Intranet scope
Governance modelInternal comms (IC)IC, Self-Service (SS)IC, SS, Enterprise apps (EA)IC, SS, EA, ESN



To best position your intranet team, consider the following:

  • Have a committed sponsor from within top management who can secure sufficient resources.
  • Ensure the sponsor and the intranet manager share a vision for how the intranet can strategically and tactically support the organisation.
  • The need for an experienced and multi-skilled intranet manager, with an understanding of business needs and technological progress.
  • Ensure the core and broader intranet team members are not isolated from employees. Just like the internal comms team, they want to be accessible.
  • The intranet team should have a good level of independence from other departments, which is usually achieved by having funding.

Wondering about the right operating model for your intranet? Our Intranet Consulting can help, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

Download the full report now

Uju’s report offers key points for organisations considering their intranet resourcing, evolution, and governance model.

Instant download, exclusively from ClearBox.

Wedge Black

I support ClearBox in everything we do online, and I assist clients that are considering redeveloping or replacing their intranet platform. I worked in global and regional organisations as the intranet manager as part of the comms team, before becoming an intranet consultant. I'm the founder of the Intranet Now annual conference. I’ve tweeted about intranets and comms for fifteen years now.

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