Filed under: Intranets
It’s 2013, at the start of an exciting year for intranets, and intranet teams.
To be sure, there are still challenges that confront intranet teams: money is tight, business focus is still external rather than internal, and competing projects draw away the attention of management.
Intranets, however, have a lot going for them in 2013. New technologies, including social and mobile, offer new directions for the intranet to take. The knowledge of intranet teams has never been greater, and the intranet community went from strength to strength in 2012.
In light of this, here’s a new year’s resolution for intranet teams:
Plan and deliver three intranet “wins” in three months.
We hope that it will inspire teams to greatness in 2013, and help to deliver the sites that staff deserve. Follow the steps below over the next three months, and add your activities and ideas as comments. Let’s get going!
What exactly is a “win” when it comes to the intranet? There are many important (and worthy) improvements that can be made to intranets, but not all of them count as “wins”.
An intranet “win” is something that does all of the following things:
- helps to deliver a better intranet for staff
- recognised by staff and management as being useful
- generates ‘kudos’ for the intranet team
- helps to build the reputation (and resources) of the intranet team
- can be done with current resources, time and technology
A good way to think of this is to talk about “above the waterline” improvements, vs “below the waterline”.
Above the waterline improvements can be seen by others, and recognised as valuable. They include things such as enhancing the homepage, fixing search, implementing a frequently used online form, cleaning up the HR landing page, etc.
Below the waterline improvements are also valuable, but they’re invisible. They fix things that are behind-the-scenes, or are hard to spot by staff (and senior managers). They include things such as cleaning up old content, improving metadata, upgrading the intranet technology platform, or addressing authoring issues.
In this context, a “win” is an above the waterline improvement that helps bring kudos to the intranet team.
Step by step to success
The new year’s resolution is to deliver three “wins” in three months (February, March & April).
Follow these steps and join a hundred other intranet teams doing the same thing:
- Brainstorm your ideas and options (by January 22)
- Choose your wins (by January 31)
- Deliver your first win (by February 28)
- Deliver your second win (by March 29)
- Deliver your third win (by April 30)
- Onwards to further success!
By the end of the three months, we guarantee that your team will be stronger, more energised and better recognised. And you’ll have delivered three key improvements that make the intranet better for all.
Stage 1: Brainstorm your ideas and options (by January 22)
January is a quiet time of year for most intranet teams. So it’s a great opportunity to get together as a group and plan out the year ahead.
Start by booking a 2-3 hour session (away from your desks) in the coming week and invite the whole team (or a friend if you’re a team of one). Spend the session brainstorming all the possible improvements you could make to the intranet.
Draw on many sources:
- browse around the current intranet, and note down the bits that need some work
- revisit the to-do list that you’ve had floating around for a while
- work through the list of requests from content owners and authors
- break down the planned enhancements included in your big business case into small pieces that can be done separately
- obtain a copy of the latest Intranet Innovation Awards report, and flip through that to get ideas
- browse around blog posts and LinkedIn discussions to get some fresh ideas
Look for items that are small enough to do in a month, alongside other work. (We’re not talking earth-shattering enhancements here.) Write all the ideas on post-it notes, scribble them on a printable whiteboard, or however you wish.
Tip: invite along a handful of key “friends of the intranet” to help in the brainstorm session. These might include a particularly enthusiastic author, an engaged content owner, or a IT member who’s been a great help in the past. Having some friendly, but outside, participants can help to generate more creative energy.
Make sure you strike while the iron is hot, and get your brainstorming session done (and documented) by January 22, in preparation for stage 2.
Not sure whether your brainstorming is capturing the right sorts of ideas? Post some of your possible ideas as a comment to this post, and get feedback from us (and other readers).
Stage 2: Choose your wins (by January 31)
Once you’ve finished your brainstorming meeting, type up the list of ideas into this ideas spreadsheet (Excel).
Organise another workshop, with the same people as the first one. This will also take 2-3 hours.
Work through the spreadsheet, and quickly evaluate each idea against the listed criteria:
- Helps staff (end users). Does the improvement help staff use the intranet more effectively? Even better, does it directly help them do their jobs, even in a small way?
- Above the waterline improvement. As discussed in the previous section, is the improvement visible and recognised by others?
- Can be promoted. Is the outcome of sufficient value that you could communicate it to all via an intranet news item? Or include in a short article in the staff newsletter?
- Generates ‘kudos’ for the team. Will the improvement by liked by stakeholders, such that the team gains a little bit extra credibility?
- Can be done in a month. With three wins to be delivered in three months, can the enhancement be delivered alongside other work?
- Within the control of the intranet team. Does the improvement relate to something the team ‘owns’, and therefore can change?
- Doesn’t require a fight to make happen. Can the change be made without resistance from content owners, stakeholders or IT?
- Possible with current technology. Can the change be implemented on the current technology platform, without requiring an upgrade, extra modules or further development?
Keep this light! The new year’s resolution is to deliver three wins in three months, not solve world hunger. So each idea can be evaluated pretty lightly, and don’t be afraid to make the session fun for all involved.
Once each idea has been (briefly) evaluated, sort the spreadsheet to bring all the possible “YES” entries to the top.
Working as a group, select your three “wins”. Remember that
What sort of ideas should you end up with? They must be above the waterline ideas, that will be seen as valued by staff, but small enough to be easily done.
- Removing an element from the home page that proved not to be useful (such as an announcements box that hasn’t been used.)
- Cleaning up the HR landing page, to make it easier to find key policies and forms.
- Adding ‘best bets’ to the search engine for the top 50 search terms.
- Adding a new ‘how do I?’ feature to the intranet, with links to 10 common tasks.
- Simplifying the top navigation bar that appears on all pages, to get rid of clutter that’s accumulated over time.
- (you get the idea)
It’s not the size of the improvement that counts. If you’re a team of one, pick small items that will still visibly improve the intranet. If you’ve got a full team, you can afford to think a bit bigger, but still keep it light!
Congratulations, you’ve now got a plan, and you’re ready to start!
Post your three “wins” as a comment to this article. That way other teams can see what each other are doing, and can support each other as a community. (If you’re getting stuck coming up with the list of three wins, post your questions as comments.)
Stage 3: Deliver your first win (by February 28)
We’re now off and running!
February should still be fairly quiet, so the first win should hopefully be fairly easy to squeeze in. Make sure it’s clear who in the team is delivering the first win, and if necessary, clear some space in their diary.
Once the improvement is delivered, spread the word:
- Post an intranet news item telling staff about the improvement.
- Take screenshots before and after, to keep a record of the enhancement.
- Take the team out for a celebratory coffee and cake!
Add a comment to this page when you’ve delivered your first win. Celebrate with the other teams following the new year’s resolution :-)
Stage 4: Deliver your second win (by March 29)
You’re now well underway, with one win under your belt, and two more to come.
Before you start into your second chosen win, take the opportunity to revisit your list. There’s no reason why you can’t change your wins based on your experiences in February.
If you’ve found yourself fighting battles to get improvements made, don’t be afraid to pick some new items that will be easier to deliver. On the other hand, if you breezed through February, aim bigger!
Don’t forget to celebrate the delivery of your second win. We recommend chocolate :-)
Running into some hurdles or roadblocks when doing your second win? Post a comment with your call for help, and get ideas from us and other teams.
Stage 5: Deliver your third win (by April 30)
Life might be getting a bit busy in April, as the working year ramps up to full speed. The challenge can be to keep going on these incremental improvements, alongside other competing demands.
Even if you’re now working on a full intranet business case, or planning a complete rework, don’t drop your third “win”. With big projects ahead, it’s even more important for the intranet team to build it’s credibility and reputation.
If necessary, drop some of the regular maintenance tasks for one month, to give time for the last win. For example, cut back on content reviews and cleanups, in order to deliver an enhancement to the intranet.
And as always, celebrate every success, including the delivery of the third and final win.
How did you go? Post a comment sharing your experiences, and what you’ve learned from following this new year’s resolution.
Stage 6: Onwards to further success!
Hopefully the new year’s resolution to deliver three wins in three months has made a lasting impression on the intranet, and has generated renewed energy for the intranet team.
The goal of these three months has been to create an upwards spiral for the intranet team. Each win produces a little more kudos, which opens more doors, allowing further enhancements to be made.
So don’t stop now! At any given point, the intranet team should have a to-do list of improvements for the coming months, even while waiting for big projects (such as a new technology platform) to kick off. This can be as simple as a list scribbled on a whiteboard, or as fancy as an action list in a SharePoint team site.
Many readers will recognise the approach in this post as a lightweight version of our 6×2 methodology. This methodology is all about delivering carefully chosen improvements every six months (the “6”), with a plan at any given time for the next two releases (the “2”).
At the end of the day, take whatever approach that works for you, as long as it sees steady incremental improvements being made to the intranet. Regardless of whether you’re a team of one, or a fully-staffed division, the best intranet is an intranet that is always moving. Onwards and upwards!