Sometimes there are postings on intranet discussion forums where people say “I’ve been asked to write an intranet strategy and was hoping I could have a look at somebody else’s”.
To me that’s a little like saying “I’m planning to have a really enjoyable holiday and was hoping I could come on yours”. Although seeing what somebody else does can be useful to get ideas, it is unlikely to be a good fit to your particular requirements. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two intranet strategies that look the same.
Sometimes when I ask about an intranet strategy, what I’m actually shown is a governance document, but these are not the same: governance is about managing operations; strategy is about setting a trajectory.
So while I can’t give you a template for an intranet strategy, there are certain questions that a good strategy should answer.
1. Vision or purpose: What is the intranet for?
This innocuous question can be hard to answer, but if you can get all your stakeholders to agree on this, then it stops an intranet programme being pulled in multiple directions.
Many strategies seem to state the blandly obvious, such as “To help Anyco communicate, collaborate, and work more effectively”. The acid test is: given two otherwise equal options, does the vision guide you on which route to take? See ‘what flavour is your intranet?‘ to help define what your intranet vision can support.
Ensure the vision is well communicated and meaningful to each department and stakeholder. As with the whole strategy, return to your vision statement frequently and make sure that every stakeholder is aware that it’s directing your actions.
2. Goals: What are the 4-5 main things that the intranet will do in the future?
This is where the intranet strategy directly supports the organisation’s strategy. If your organisation aims to improve customer satisfaction, then an intranet goal would be to help people serve customers, perhaps by: finding experts to solve problems; better tracking of issues to resolution; and providing more accurate information to sales teams, for example.
If your business needed to reduce the time taken to bring new services to market, then an intranet goal might be to help people collaborate more efficiently, perhaps by: providing ‘anywhere’ access to working documents and processes; automation (workflows) of review and approval processes; and structured space for problem solving and idea generation among peers.
Some goals may be more inward-looking, such as ensuring 99% of employees can access the intranet. These are worth tracking, but won’t excite anyone, and may be better under ‘implementation’ (see below).
3. Measures: What indicates that goals are being met?
It is tempting to tie intranet measures to whatever your analytics tool will tell you. ‘Hits’ can be useful for activity tracking, but don’t inform you about outcomes. For a full picture, measure both inputs to the process (e.g. how many sales people use the information on the intranet) and the outcomes that matter (e.g. how often did the intranet play a role in improving customer satisfaction?).
- number of tasks completed online
- number of resolved issues
- the value of new idea
- suggestions that have been implemented
- time to respond to customer questions
- reduction of calls to HR and IT helpdesks
4. Implementation: What will change in the next 1-3 years?
With respect to the goals and measures, your plan for implementation needs to lay out how goals will be met, and so this section of your strategy could be a very high-level summary of a programme plan or roadmap
A great part of creating a successful intranet is making it a place for people to get the work that matters done, and to streamline daily admin. Will you choose to try to get all your people using the intranet some of the time, or focus on core users directly involved with the goals?
You will also need to consider how adoption and culture issues might be addressed.
Once you’ve decided these things, I’ll be happy to tell you all about my recent holiday.