Thinking about creating or modifying your corporate intranet portal? Although exciting, it can easily become an overwhelming endeavor taking up time and resources. With so many stakeholders and opinions, it can sometimes be easier to avoid taking on any changes. But don’t fret, there are ways to make the process easier and more efficient. This article is meant to give you tips and strategies to prepare your organization for a corporate intranet implementation or re-design based on Abel Solutions’ experiences developing intranets for the past two decades.
Three key words to keep in mind, both while reading this article and while planning for an intranet solution, are preparation, communication, and organization. Each of the strategies outlined below contain components of these three keys.
The Right Implementation Team(s)
Particularly for larger organizations, the practice of having well-formed implementation teams can be one that streamlines the preparation process. At its core, the idea is to have a group of stakeholders with decision making power representing their respective departments during the intranet preparation and implementation phase.
Here are a few ideas on how to leverage implementation teams:
- Functional teams with employees that know specific areas in each department to guide requirements gathering and implementation.
- Beta test groups to do user acceptance training (UAT) and be advocates for their area of expertise.
- Marketing teams to create excitement for the intranet and rollout-related communications.
No matter how you decide to use implementation teams, the goal is to make sure that every department feels that they have a voice and are included in discussions and decisions that will affect them. This will drive user engagement and adoption across the entire organization.
Often, one of the hurdles faced when preparing for an intranet solution is lack of a clear starting point. Whether that’s because your current environment is very complex or it is your first time implementing an intranet – a great way to begin to become acclimated is to go with a phased approach. A good starting point would be to huddle with stakeholders in your organization (a pre-implementation team, perhaps) to identify priorities as potential starting points. Documenting them in an organized way, such as using a requirements matrix pictured below, will ensure that all the relevant information is captured and easily sharable.
Requirements Matrix Template – Gathering Requirements for a Department Site
Once the first phase has been implemented, use the feedback given by end users to shape how the next phase will be done. Doing this will assure your end users and implementation team that everyone is on the same page as well as driving adoption which is ultimately our end goal.
Document Management & Permissions
As any SharePoint or IT Administrator knows, document management can be a major pain point. Something that Abel Solutions highly recommends to our clients is deleting out-of-date documents, archiving important ones, and imposing an organizational structure on current ones.
Consider using built-in SharePoint organization tools like document sets, folders, content types, tagging files with metadata, and using columns (both site columns and library columns) to filter information in libraries and lists.
Germane to any discussion of document management is the question of permissions – who can access which documents. The advice here is to see if it is possible to create permission groups. These groups can be given permissions to read, contribute, edit, or simply view documents in a library or items on a list. Consider using a spreadsheet like the one pictured below to organize permissions information.
Gather your security requirements by creating a Security Matrix
Since these groups can be leveraged across multiple sites and the libraries within them (if created at the site collection level), it becomes a more effective way to make sure the right people have access to the right documents.
With years of experience in creating intranet portals, we at Abel Solutions know firsthand how difficult the process can become. We also know how much value can be added to an organization by utilizing an intranet. That’s why we developed Share|Net, a solution accelerator designed to give companies a head start on the implementation process.
Whether you are a large organization with a well-defined structure or a rapidly growing company that is more flexible, using the strategies outlined will help make preparing for an intranet implementation more streamlined, efficient, and organized.
This article was written by Associate SharePoint Consultant, Dushyant Raichur.