What Every Intranet Project Manager Needs to Know

Over the past 4 years, the solution delivery team at Bonzai has implemented more SharePoint and Office 365 intranets than they can collectively count on their fingers and toes. There have been many late nights, a few tears shed but most importantly many learnings on how to implement sustainable intranets that last. This is often a difficult endeavor when resources are constrained, timelines cannot be met and budgets wane. 

Despite this, our solution delivery team never fails to implement durable and effective Intranets into global organizations on-time and within budget. 

Our team got together for a “brain-dump” session to gather everything we’ve learnt and are happy to share them with you. While every project comes with their own unique set of circumstances to tackle, there are common lessons that everyone may benefit from.

Understand that Intranet Projects are Complex

It’s safe to say that 90% of the time teams underestimate how truly complex intranet projects are. Starting from scratch, migrating to a new system or redesigning altogether—all intranet projects are complex. I am not talking about sophisticated algorithms, lambda expressions, or machine learning stuff, but rather the disguised complexities humans often underestimate. Here are some of the common things that get in the way of launching your intranet on-time:

  • When project stakeholders are not brought on board from the get-go and provided with basic intranet project details—what the project is about, why it is important, how it is going to happen and why they are involved
  • When key resources are not available during important dates of the project delivery timeline
  • Sluggish decision-making processes (often due to politics or not knowing who responsibility should fall onto)
  • When project stakeholders do not have direct access to the intranet or SharePoint environments
  • When you do not know who and how many people in your organization need to be rallied so you can veer efforts in the right direction

Recommendation 1: Understanding that you have a complex project on your hands, start by writing a list of areas of where and when roadblocks may ensue. You may want to complete this with your project timeline in front of you. This way you can begin to predict when issues may arise, who you may be able to reach out to for assistance, and who you may need to inform to correct expectations if certain items cannot be delivered. Without a doubt, the more Intranets you implement, the better you will get at predicting roadblocks. Keep a journal of your own learnings to reflect on.  

Recommendation 2: Create a communication plan to educate and inform project stakeholders about the intranet project. They need to know what’s in it for them and why the initiative is not the kind that can be done off the side of their desk. Help them to understand why they have been selected as a leader on the project and how your new intranet will help them save time and improve organization-wide efficiency. No one likes to be caught-guard and thrown more work—help your people understand why this project might be important to them.

How to Get People Excited about the Intranet Project?

What works well for us is creating a presentation to share with project stakeholders. We tailor the presentation to provide attendees with as much information as possible to bring them up to speed. You will want to include:

  • An overview of the project and why the organization is taking the direction they are
  • An overview of the technologies and products that will be supporting the new intranet environment
  • A quick 5 to 10-minute demo of the product to spark some excitement of what’s to come
  • Opportunity for feedback and insight from stakeholders

How to Expedite Decision-Making

Since the intranet effects all parts of the organization, decisions on how best to proceed at critical points can get tricky. As a project manager or facilitator, it can be frustrating to witness power struggles and slow or no decision-making. Often times, a mediocre decision is better than no decision at all.

To help move roadblocks like these along faster, I recommend sitting down with project stakeholders as soon as the project kicks-off to establish an agreed upon decision-making framework. This will ensure that the group feels empowered to make decisions as a cohesive unit. It will also help to create an environment of mutual respect and collaboration. It’s very common for decisions to get held up when companies operate with cultures of blame. Individuals will refrain from making decisions in fear of being blamed or shamed. The team must understand that it is up to the group to make a good or bad decision wherein together, they will either take the heat or take the credit.

While Intranet projects are complex, they are also extremely rewarding. Good intranets help to provide a foundation for organization-wide knowledge-sharing, communication, collaboration and engagement. If you’re considering revamping your intranet or are already in the process, you may find these additional free resources useful:

It’s Time To Transform

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