Filed under: Intranets
For the last ten years, we’ve worked with intranet teams across a wide variety of organisations, both large and small. It’s been good work, and together we’ve delivered some great intranets.
What’s been surprising for us, however, is how many organisations we’ve worked with in the last year that don’t have an intranet team at all. In an organisation of 250 staff, we get that a person dedicated to running the intranet may seem a luxury.
But we’re also seeing organisations with 10,000 or 20,000 staff that don’t have an intranet team. And we mean no team whatsoever, not even a full-time person, and in many cases, no intranet folk within the individual business units.
Where have the teams gone?
The obvious culprit is the global financial crisis, which has lead to widespread staff reductions and head-count freezes. Across all areas of organisations, staff are expected to do more with less.
It’s also a product of the cyclic restructures that occur in many firms. On the up-swing, centralised teams are established for comms, HR, intranet, etc. On the down-swing, these central teams are “devolved” to business units, with very light central resources.
Whatever the reasons, this is not good news for organisations that need to manage their information and processes better.
Three fundamental reasons for having a team
There are lots of arguments to be made relating to business value, staff efficiency, information and knowledge management, etc. At a more basic level, however, we see three fundamental reasons for having an intranet team:
- Someone has to do the work. There’s a lot involved in running an intranet, particularly in large organisations. While it’s great to have a steering committee, working party, stakeholder group, etc, someone needs to get the actual work done. Otherwise it’s “all chiefs and no indians”, and the intranet stands still.
- Information doesn’t manage itself. To paraphrase Martin White, information is only of value when it’s used. It’s easy to publish a sea of badly written and poorly maintained content, but this adds little value from an organisational or staff perspective.
- If you own it, you need to run it. It’s all very well for business areas to take “ownership”, or for a senior manager to be the “sponsor”. With ownership comes the responsibility to manage it, and not just the one slice that is of greatest interest (such as news, HR, etc).
This conversation is frequently now where we start when we engage with our clients, as there’s no point in redesigning an intranet if no-one will run it after it’s relaunched.
What should the team be doing?
It can be hard for senior managers and business owners to visualise what a central intranet team would be doing. Thankfully we’ve written a pile of articles on this: