Filed under: Intranets
Time and time again in my workshops, I see the same issues come up regarding the role of IT and the ownership of intranets. This is expressed in phrases such as:
“We handed the intranet back to the corporate communications team, and it was a disaster.”
“We’ve tried handing back sections of the intranet to the business, but they just aren’t interested.”
“We can’t get business areas to take responsibility for updating their own areas.”
“Once we delivered the intranet to the business, we’ve had real problems.”
These all reflect a fundamental mistake made by some IT areas, which boils down to:
Either own the intranet, or not. Then act accordingly.
To expand on this: IT has a very simple choice, whether they want to be the owners (in every sense) of the intranet, or not. The choice that is made then influences the role they have to play. Let’s explore this further:
IT owns the intranet
Great, I’m happy with that. As our earlier intranet survey identified, a lot of intranets are owned by IT. At the end of the day, I don’t care where the intranet team is located, as long as they have the right skills and focus.
But, if IT owns the intranet, then they are responsible for the intranet as a whole. This includes managing the content, setting policies, defining strategies, conducting communications, plus more. Basically, all of the things that any true intranet team are responsible for.
IT doesn’t own the intranet
I’m happy with that too. IT is responsible for the underlying technology platform, but the intranet is owned by another business area (such as communications, KM, etc). The other business area has overall ownership of the intranet, and directs IT (and seeks guidance from them) regarding technology matters.
But if this is the case, then why is IT rushing off to:
- create a brand new intranet from scratch, when no-one has asked for one
- buy a new content management system
- “pilot” or implement a new collaboration tool (such as Sharepoint)
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If IT doesn’t own the intranet, then why is it acting like it does? This is the sole cause of the problems of “handing over” solutions or activities to the business, and it should never occur. If the business isn’t ready to do something (or anything) with the intranet, then IT has plenty of other useful things to get on with.
Own or do not own
So in summary, there should be clarity about who owns the intranet. The owner should be making the decisions, setting the direction, defining the agenda. Everyone should be helping, but not trying to have the fun without taking the responsibility…