10 Do’s and Don’ts for Launching a New Intranet
By our new Associate Verity Cash
I recently had the pleasure of launching a social intranet into a traditional food manufacturing business of more than 2000 employees, 500 of whom were based in the UK head office and the rest scattered across various sites as drivers, in our factories and our warehouses. It was a career highlight and certainly tested all of my powers of influence, communication and staying power! Along the way I learnt some great lessons about the do’s and the don’ts of launching an intranet.
Active listening should be at the heart of the project.
Focus groups, audits, engagement surveys. Why are you doing it? What’s the business need? Make sure the business case AND the employee need is crystal clear as you will need to repeat/remind those around you often as you progress through to launch. It was feedback from staff that ultimately persuaded the CEO that there was a business case to go digital. The voices of drivers, graduates, the people in factories and warehouses added much needed colour to the argument – and they were listened to
Get a steering committee.
Ensure you include IT and HR as key stakeholders. Play to each other’s strengths i.e. mine is comms not IT, and I didn’t know my cache from my cloud so I left all I.T. decisions and meetings to the experts. I led the committee but leant very heavily on my colleagues for their skills and expertise.
Find your Intranet Champions early and nurture them.
Intranet Champions will help guide the content and structure of your intranet but will also be the vital link between the Steering Committee and the employee cohort. We secured Intranet Champions to represent each area of the business and trained them very early on in the process. In this way, we knew they would take their knowledge and enthusiasm back to their department and do some of our seeding work for us.
Start as you mean to go on with collective ownership.
This approach really helped to foster adoption and engagement, with a sense of ownership and cross functional collaboration right from the start.
Secure an engaged and enthusiastic Board level sponsor.
This is particularly important if you’re working in a business that hasn’t had a social channel before. I found our Board Sponsor incredibly useful for navigating tricky Board meetings and other, more conservative Board members. This is particularly true as you get closer to launch. Suddenly, the penny drops and you will inevitably have a panicked CEO and a group of senior people realising they are about to be uber visible.
Get the Board on board.
Launching with a fully engaged Executive Team helps with early adoption and a sense of importance. We rolled out Exec training and ensured the Board’s bios and photos were up to date, plus that they were logged into and using Yammer well before the intranet launched.
Don’t try to do everything at once.
We knew it was a tall order to go from having a poor SharePoint site that was only visited to see what was on the menu that day to an all singing, all dancing digital workspace. So we decided to launch with a knowledge hub first which encompassed news, information and people. We needed some sort of digital hub that could join a disparate workforce together. But we knew this would be a much larger task as it’s as much a culture change programme as a digital project. So we phased our approach to start with a comms focus in Year 1, moving towards a Digital Workspace in Year 2.
Take the business on a journey.
Don’t just launch an intranet. Let colleagues know what’s coming, ask their advice, keep them abreast of developments. If there are company days or conferences, use these as an opportunity to share ‘sneak peaks’ of the site in progress. We used a series of articles in existing Comms channels to provide a running commentary on the build. Nearer launch, we held a ‘Profile Photo Day’ where anyone could pop into a meeting room to have a professional head shot taken. Whilst not everyone will want (or be available to attend) the buzz it creates around the business will ensure everyone is talking about the upcoming intranet.
Link the intranet launch with another activity.
This is where your Steering Committee comes into their own. By working closely with IT and HR we had sight of two upcoming initiatives which we could leverage – the company wide roll out of Office365 and a pilot of epayslips. In this way, we were able to reach employees who weren’t as engaged with pure Comms but would be touched by the other IT/HR initiatives.
Don’t forget about remote or non-desk based workers.
A third of our workforce was non-desk based (the traditional blue collar worker) and we’d heard loud and clear from employee engagement surveys and focus groups that they didn’t have a voice. But how would an intranet help? We ensured that our non-desk based workers were kept fully informed of our work and ensured that the intranet would be accessible on personal smartphones without an Office 365 license, and would be visible in communal areas such as rest rooms and canteens.
If you need help with developing and launching a new intranet, we have lots of experience in this area on our team, so get in touch!