How to Create an Intranet Project Plan

Mins Read

Your new Intranet will be a place that increases staff productivity and efficiency - if you get it right, that is. IT projects are notorious for running overtime, over budget, and not delivering as much value to the organization as anticipated. If you are wanting to build a new Intranet, how can you ensure that you get it right and don’t end up with a half-baked attempt?

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We’ve worked with many diverse teams to successfully use and ensure they know what’s required from them to ensure retention and long-term success within your organization.

You can help eliminate much of the risk involved in building a new Intranet (or any other new IT project) within your organization with careful planning. Below we step through how you can create an Intranet project plan poised for success from the very beginning.

For a thorough rundown of all activities involved, download our free white paper on Creating Your Intranet Checklist.

Identify all stakeholders and get buy-in

Who are the stakeholders that have an interest in the new Intranet? There needs to be a business case that supports your decision to create a new Intranet - and gaining their buy-in helps secure project success early on.

You may be interested to discover that the stakeholders within your organization are not just the end-users. Before you create an Intranet project plan, you’ll need to get the support of all stakeholders: a modern Intranet is an investment that needs justification.

So, why do you need a new Intranet?

You likely have an older style Intranet that is fairly static and not engaging - or perhaps you don’t yet have an Intranet at all.

C-suite, the board, or your investors may still have this aging style of Intranet in their mind and wonder why you would need one to begin with. It’s your job to highlight that a modern Intranet has more in common with a social networking platform than the Intranets of yesteryear.

Modern Intranets typically include file sharing and management, news creation, workspaces, team directories, forms, tasks, personalization, and intelligent searches.

It’s a work platform rather than just an information-driven site and can be accessed using any device.

Define your goals

The main goal of a new Intranet will always be to enhance productivity and provide efficiency. But beyond this, there are some other overarching goals that all organizations should keep in mind.

  • Create a shared work experience across different geographical regions or sites
  • Deliver more effective and collaborative internal communications
  • Organize your internal information to have everything readily available
  • Digitizes workflow processes such as HR form management
  • Empower your team by providing a native app experience so that the Intranet is a natural extension of the apps they already use for work

More specifically, measurable goals include items like reducing email traffic and increasing cross-departmental collaboration.

Gathering information

There are people within your organization that will be the main drivers of your new Intranet and who will have specific goals they want to achieve. These people include Internal Communications, HR, Operations, and IT staff. You may like to workshop each team’s goals individually, then use a cross-disciplinary approach to see if you uncover any missing pieces.

This may include specific functions like an onboarding process, an enterprise social strategy, an internal calendar of events, mobile notifications for particular announcements, etc.

Ask for input from all levels of staffing who will be using the Intranet. It isn’t just the departments who will have the most feedback and use of the platform; it’s all users. This includes both technical and non-technical users, management and non-management, casual and full-time staff.

A productive activity in defining the goals for your Intranet is to take a look at what other companies are doing - so you can see what’s possible. Ensure you do this after defining your own goals. This way, you aren’t limited in imagining what’s possible. People have a tendency to regurgitate and copy the information they have learned if they research first.

You can look at our Kmart case study to see what other people are doing.

Build a rough sitemap

Once you have gathered all your information, you’ll be able to start filling in a rough sitemap of your Intranet.

Having all your functions laid out, along with flows between pages, will give some structure to your plan. You can create these types of diagrams from tools like Visio or even Canva.

Determining permissions for who will have read and write access is also a clever idea at this time. If you already have identity management in place, you will likely transfer user groups straight across.

Choose your Intranet Software

There are many ways to go about picking Intranet software to use. With your goals defined, you’ll be better guided in learning which solution is a good fit.

The Intranet software you choose should be:

  • Able to work with your current identity management system
  • Template-rich; for fast setup and reducing the timeframe for rolling out to users
  • Metadata tags; for more effective search and organizing content
  • Easy to work with; designed for use by business users, rather than only IT staff
  • Integrate; be able to connect with your existing applications to enhance productivity
  • Extensible; with the option to build out extra functionality in the future

We also recommended that you consult with your Intranet solution provider to see what they believe is the best configuration for your business. After all, these are the people who are used to seeing many different Intranet implementations - your internal experience is likely to be limited.

Consider pricing

What is your budget going to be? Out-of-the-box software costs are significantly less than a custom (or even customized) solution. Vendors have different pricing structures, either a one-off fee or, more commonly, via a subscription-based model paid each month or each year. You’ll also need to consider the cost of hosting if you are considering using cloud-based hosting such as AWS or Azure.

You may find that you’ll need extra features that aren’t supported by an out-of-the-box solution - or that you can cut features and use integrations with other software products instead.

Create your roadmap

A pilot program

As with most IT rollouts, it’s best to start with a small project, to begin with. Choosing your pilot team is a critical exercise to ensuring the success of your eventual full-scale Intranet.  

For the pilot, you’ll need to set a small, well-bounded set of functionality for your Intranet Phase One. Pick a time frame in which to do the launch, the team (around 10-20 people), define what success and feedback mechanisms will look like, and design the training / on-boarding accordingly.

Guidance for Proof of Concept Pilot from the National Archives, while focusing on ERM software, provides a comprehensive overview of how to plan and run your pilot program.

CentricMinds Intranet software has a 14-day free trial that may assist in your pilot program.

Iterative builds

Once you’ve garnered lessons learned from the pilot program, you’re able to create iterative builds of your Intranet, adding functionality and users as you go. By following an iterative approach to rolling out enables you to avoid the potential failure of an all-at-once type of launch. This type of project management is an Agile approach, which helps deliver a product faster when faced with evolving needs. It is part of many businesses’ ongoing digital transformation efforts.

When building out functions and testing on users, gathering feedback, as well as getting feedback from new teams coming online, you’re able to grow your Intranet successfully for your operation from the very start.

With iterative planning and rollout mechanisms, even when your Intranet is ‘complete,’ you will still be able to use the same approach in the future to add new functionality as your organization grows digitally.

One more step to help you drive Intranet success

You're almost there. However, there is one more critical step in your Intranet Project Plan that you must not overlook. And that step is - PROMOTION.

When we talk promotion, it means moving beyond the simple "let's get the word out." Crafting the proper promotional communication is critical to the success of your organization's new Intranet and its user adoption.

We recommend taking a strategic (top-down) and practical grass-roots approach (bottom-up) promotion strategy, which includes:

  • Identify how the Intranet will improve employees' workflow, access to information and generally make their lives easier during the pilot stage. Next, take these success stories and promote them to the organization. Create communication campaigns with your existing communication channels, such as email and newsletter drip campaigns, to build awareness.
  • Early in the project involve champions in the organization. These individuals already have a positive impact on your company's culture, behaviors, and goals — their authority aids in building rapid Intranet adoption. Include them at the start of your project in your promotion strategy. Have them share posts and valuable resources on the Intranet.
  • Empower your champions to host a Q&A session to answer any questions about the project and Intranet solution.
  • Request that your CEO make an announcement about the new Intranet or post a video to the Intranet.

Encourage leaders and managers to share a communication post with their groups. Have them post essential resources, including announcements, files, tasks, events. Doing this ensures your Intranet becomes a necessary part of everyone's daily work.

Promotional campaigns are well known for their ability to generate interest and participation. Use them to educate your users on the benefits of the Intranet. It's a critical first step towards gaining support at all levels. Include promotions in your project plan before, during, and after launch to assist you in onboarding your Intranet users as quickly as possible.

Based on user feedback, you will be able to fine-tune and adjust your project plan. And iteratively optimize your Intranet to meet your users' goals and drive even more engagement and satisfaction.