Documents > top 10 questions on the intranet
10 things to think about before starting a new intranet
Although there is not necessary a definitive (and right) answer to all these questions, answering them might help you to avoid "another corporate failure"… Of course, with 10 years of experience in IT projects, we can help you solving these…
1. What is your long term intranet strategy, where do you want to be in 5 years ?
Think about:
  • rich media (video conference possibilities, internet2, …)
  • company’s culture
  • company’s environment (any legal aspects related to the publishing of wrong or misleading information or on the privacy and confidentiality aspects ?)
  • Employees turnover in the company (but also the peace at which employees change position), any impact in terms of knowledge sharing ?
  • Does the top management understand and support the project, do the top executives understand the impact on the company’s culture and processes the project might have (both positive and negative ones), do they understand that an “easy to use” intranet requires a great deal of commitment and less politics? (Hint: solve the politics first)
2. Do you plan to use this tool more as
  • A communication tool with guidelines (more static). If that’s your case, do you need a 2 million budget for that ?
  • A knowledge sharing tool (more dynamic). Hint: this is the future…
3. Maintenance
  • What is your maintenance strategy ?
  • How do you plan to modify, add, delete content on your intranet ?
  • Who is doing it ? (Hint: statistics is not enough… Think about the metric “hits per page”, does it tells you that the page has good content ? No. Does it tells you the page is at the right place ? No. Does it tells you who is responsible for that page’s content ? No.)
4. Search
  • What search tool will you use ?
  • Any impact on the taxonomy you use on a daily basis ?
  • Compared to Google, how does that tool works ? (Hint: you better have something very close to it, both from a functionality and usability point of view)
5. Impact on company’s culture
  • What do you plan to do to reward good content publisher / contributors / reviewer ?
  • What do you plan to do to punish the bad ones ?
6. Content approval processes
  • Do you plan to have an approval process for publishing content ?(Hint: if yes, do you really think that employees will bother going through it when they can use email to disseminate information without any approval ? )
7. Information architecture
  • What content architecture will you use in your intranet, a one that reflects the company org. chart or the tasks of your employees?
  • What will you do when the executives re-organize the company ?
  • Have you done a card sorting exercise to try to understand how employees would organize that content and what representation they have of the company’s information (mental model) ?
  • Can you clearly differentiate between intra-departmental (information that remain in the department) and extra-departmental (communicated content between departments) information ?
  • What about cross-functional information and applications ?
  • Where will you place (if you do so) restricted and sensitive information ? If that’s the case, how will you manage users passwords and the protected content they might access ?
8. Corporate processes
  • What type of typical employees tasks will you ease with your intranet ?
  • Anything that will improve their productivity, anything they will do faster by using the intranet (booking a meeting room, reserving an hotel, ordering office supplies, … ?).
  • Remember: an intranet is in competition with email and phone.
  • Hint: high return on investment & attractive to most users if useful and usable !
9. Team
Do you have the right team to do that project ? Think about the core competencies you need in terms of:
  • previous experience with former intranet project (s)
  • usability
  • technology
  • visual design
  • information architecture
  • business processes
  • knowledge management
  • project management
10. Tools & software
  • Knowing that your intranet is in direct competition with email, what would you do to make it as appealing as this tool ?
  • Hint: more appealing is giving a survival chance to your intranet
  • Have you considered open source as an alternative to proprietary solutions ?
  • In the past, did your employees used other tools, if yes, which one ?
  • Hint: if the answer is positive, you better provide them something even more easy to use and with more functionalities than the ones they picked up
And last but not least, in your solution selection, are you going to integrate the above answers or not ?
Many themes were not addressed in this paper. It is somehow difficult to summarize in two pages 10 years of experiences and more than 200 best practices related to this subject…

An other important comment: answering each of them without considering the effect of the other ones would not be wise. They must interact with each other in a global way, and in a way that make sense overall.

We will be pleased, however, to share this knowledge with you should you be interested. Contact us or visit the services section to know more…
P.S. “Avoided” themes::
  • external access to the intranet
  • navigation best practices
  • design best practices
  • geographical vs departmental content organization
  • timeframe for content validity
  • multi language sites
  • corporate acronyms