How to avoid common mistakes when deploying your intranet
Updated: Sep 21
Dapt consultants have worked with many customers over the years to help them recover failing intranet projects or replace intranets that were poorly adopted.
We thought we should use this experience to highlight some of the common problems we have encountered and give you tips on how to avoid them in your future intranet projects.
This could be a much bigger list, but we thought we should start with our top 3 issues before we provide our top 10 tips for a successful intranet deployment.
A lack of support
An intranet should represent all areas of your organisation and contain content that is relevant to all users. It should also have the full backing of your senior management team.
We have worked with customers that had previously attempted to roll out intranets which were owned and managed by a single department. It would typically be the IT or Comms team that would take sole responsibly for the design and content creation.
In many cases, the project team had been able to gather enough content for the launch. The problems occur post-implementation when the already busy team struggle to keep content up to date and relevant. The initial enthusiasm and ad-hoc cooperation from other departments reduce quickly once the project has been delivered and people returned to their normal daily tasks.
A large proportion of these customers had problems with low adoption rates, despite the successful technical delivery of their intranet project.
In our experience, a successful intranet project includes representatives across your organisation, from the design stage, through implementation and into business as usual activities.
It doesn’t matter how technically advanced, or well-designed your intranet is if there is no one to manage content - it will fail!
Just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you should! The top priority when designing your intranet should be usability.
We have seen projects where someone in the team asks for an intricate approval process for new content. Before you know it, you have a multi-stage approval process with massively overcomplicated logic. It may sound like a great idea at the time, but in reality, it is costly to implement and difficult to use.
We have come across a lot of overly complex intranets in our time and they almost always have poor adoption rates.
We always challenge requests to add complexity unless there is a clear business case to do so.
The biggest reason why intranets fail is stale, out of date and irrelevant content. A clear content strategy is a key to success!
When users go to your intranet homepage, they want to see up to date news, key information and the latest conversations across the organisation. They do not want to see the Christmas menu from 3 years ago or a new starter that left before they started!
Make sure that you have processes in place to keep content fresh. This can include automatic expiry dates for new content and feeds from other data sources such as your website, Twitter, Yammer or any other resource that is regularly updated.
We also recommend building out pages or sites based on the amount of content that is likely to be produced. If a team or department doesn’t generate much content, don’t give them the same site design as one that does. There’s nothing worse than seeing the same 3 news items on a team landing page that have been there since launch.
Instead, create a cut-down design where only the key information needs to be maintained.
Our top 10 tips for a successful intranet deployment
With the above items in mind, here are our top 10 tips to deploy a successful intranet:
Get executive sponsorship to support your intranet and ask them to assist with comms and content creation. A CEO blog, for example, is a great way to engage your users
Have clear business objectives for your intranet
Build a team of intranet champions and content authors, with representation across your organisation
Provide ongoing support and guidance
Replace individuals that leave or change role
Involve them in the decision-making process for future development
Don’t rely on a single team, such as IT or Comms, to produce all of your intranet content
Keep the content authoring process as easy as possible
Avoid having complex permission structures. An intranet should be an open platform for all users
Make sure content is up to date and relevant
Do not bypass the intranet for corporate comms by sending out company-wide emails
Always looks to simplify your design where possible
Build a sense of community by encouraging a two-way conversation through comments and/or Yammer integration