How to set up an intranet project in 11 steps
Setting up a project correctly is an important but often overlooked phase of any project. Successful intranet-redesign projects start before sketching, feature selection, or coding.
In light of an upcoming internal content project, the team have been conducting some research into successful intranets. In doing so, I found an interesting article about ‘User-Centered Intranet Redesigns‘. Published by the Nielsen Norman Group, the article discusses the results of an analysis that was conducted on hundreds of successful intranet projects and identifies the 11 most common initial project set-up steps.
1 Appoint a leader – Identify the person responsible for creating the project vision. Their role encompasses a wide range of activities, including uniting and motivating the project team and ensuring that stakeholders and leaders are consulted accordingly. The project leader should take a holistic view of the project and how it fits in with the wider organisation.
At the University, we are fortunate to have our own specialist team of project managers and business analysts. From the offset, the project will be appointed a project manager and a business analyst.
2 Assemble the team – Gather the initial team to support the planning of the project. During these Covid times, the team has become adept at meeting remotely. Microsoft Teams will continue to play a pivotal role in enabling the project team to communicate effectively throughout the project.
3 Identify the catalysts – Clearly identify why the project is necessary.
The internal content project will require a formal project proposal and business case, which sets out the full argument for undertaking the project.
4 Review plan and do user research – Review the existing relevant information. Identify any areas where you may lack information and plan and conduct research in order to satisfy these gaps.
The team will need to pull together data from a range of sources including user interviews, requests and web traffic stats.
5 Map out the organisation’s digital ecosystem – Review the organisation’s digital assets and identify the tools people are using or may wish to use. State what assets ought to be kept, merged, replaced or redesigned.
This is going to be a challenge for the team to systematically map out all the assets. The intranet project encompasses a large number of applications and web sites, and I am sure that we will unearth a few surprises as we go.
6 Involve stakeholders – Identify and consult with the project’s stakeholders. Plan appropriate channels of communication for each stakeholder group.
I hope that we can form a project board that will contain representatives of all the stakeholders. The team will also need to identify how we will directly engage with our users throughout the project.
7 Align with leaders and stakeholders – Increase leaders’ and stakeholders’ engagement with the project by allowing them to input ideas and suggest goals. Try to reach a consensus on the project’s future vision. Once the vision has been decided, promote the idea across the organisation.
I believe the internal content project will be widely welcomed across the University. The challenge is going to be taking everyone’s input and forming one vision of the intranet.
8 Allocate resources – Secure all the required assets for the project, ensuring they’re available when required. Ensure the project has access to all the skills necessary to complete the project.
9 Create user-centred artefacts – Formally identify and promote the project’s artefacts; these can include requirements, customer journeys, top tasks and project backlogs.
Typically, we use MS Teams, SharePoint, Trello, Jira and Git to create our project artefacts.
10 Carry out systems and operational planning – Define the processes, tools and methodologies that the project is going to use. Early in the project, we will define our workflows and procedures. We will establish how the team will work together in an agile manner and how we will track and report our progress.
11 Advertise early – Communicate the agreed vision early in the project so that people have time to get used to the idea that change is coming.
In our experience, having a few live webpages early in the project has proven to be a useful tool for illustrating ideas and encouraging engagement with the project.
Starting on the right foot is very important to the success of a project and to the harmony within the project team. It can be difficult to recover a project that started with poorly defined objectives or with a lack of support.
In the coming months, we will start the job of planning our new intranet, and it is my hope that we can apply these 11 steps as we kick off our next project.