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4 Key Phases to Ace Your Intranet Adoption Strategy

by Siv Rauv

15 Oct 2020

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The most successful intranet adoption strategies begin far earlier – and continue on much later – than launch day.

In our experience there are four essential phases to ensuring your new intranet is widely adopted and embraced.

Focus on these phases, and employees will be making the most of the new intranet on a daily basis – with far-reaching benefits for the organisation as a whole.

Before launch: Engage stakeholders early

Get employees and senior management on board with a new intranet early in the process, and half your engagement work will already be done by the time it comes to deployment.

That’s because an effective new intranet will directly meet the needs of the people in your organisation. If you can show that the intranet can fast-track, streamline and simplify knowledge, communications and business-critical processes for both the end users and management, it can go a long way in getting everyone on board.

How to get buy-in from employees

At its very essence, employees want an intranet that supports them to perform their roles. Your goal is to make the intranet the ‘go-to’ resource.

  • Carry out initial intranet analysis of your current system/s to see what’s frustrating employees and taking time away from their most productive moments. Is it poor search functionality? Contacting colleagues? Perhaps your file version control is currently a mess.
  • Interview and/or survey different business segments, departments and individuals to understand their pain points. See what common tasks or processes they perform, and whether these can more efficiently be performed on the intranet. A common scenario is employees using paper forms, scanning forms and emailing them to managers for approvals. An online forms and workflow tool could automate this process.
  • Interview management to understand business requirements and how to map it to your intranet.
  • Create personas. Think about which employees have common needs and perform similar activities. Determine what pain points you need to address for each persona and what features will benefit them the most.
  • Focus on these key pain points throughout the intranet project lifecycle – these points can both guide functionality in your new intranet, and help you to build excitement around launch time. It will also help you understand what features matter most to each persona and allow you to tailor your communications accordingly.
  • Build a team of intranet champions that includes at least one member of the C-suite or leadership team, who will provide ongoing feedback during the project and help create excitement around the launch.

Further reading: [Blog post] Building a Successful Intranet Strategy and Plan

Tip: Building a great organisation goes beyond providing employees with the resources they need to do their jobs. It’s about getting employees to engage with each other and the business, and building those bonds that motivates an employee to perform their best. With an intranet, you can:

  • Let employees highlight the achievements of their colleagues by nominating them with a formal rewards system
  • Let employees and managers make announcements for weddings, the birth of a baby, an adopted dog and other personal communications
  • Introduce a classifieds section where employees can buy and sell personal items to a trusted network
  • Set up informal team workspaces and communities for everything for hobbies to dealing with illness

Further reading: [Blog post] 7 Things Your Intranet Needs to Be Successful

How to get buy-in from bosses

Managers will be keen to hear about potential boosts to productivity, profitability and efficiency.

  • Create use cases for the intranet for different business segments to management have a better understanding of how it helps different areas of the business.
  • Build a compelling intranet business case to present to management – check out our useful 6-step guide to help put yours together.
  • Set specific and measurable outcomes for your intranet early in the piece; for example based around employee retention, productivity or cost reduction.
  • Use case studies and statistics to support your case. For example, McKinsey research shows that social technologies can help interaction workers increase their productivity by 20-25%. 

Further reading: [Guide & Checklist] 6 Step Guide to Writing a Compelling Intranet Business Case

At launch: Build excitement around your new intranet

So you’ve worked with your choice of intranet software providers and developed an intuitive, collaborative new intranet. There are several steps and options you can take to optimise adoption around launch time.

Launch in a way that suits your organisation

You might choose to deploy your intranet overnight, or to roll out your new intranet functionality in stages as STAR Group chose to do so staff don’t get overwhelmed.

To build excitement you might:

  • Run a competition to name the new intranet
  • Run a promotional campaign in the office or over email, focusing on how the new intranet will solve those initial intranet frustrations
  • Set up an intranet treasure hunt or contest to win prizes
  • Throw that big launch party!

Provide support and training

To help employees feel supported as they get used to the new system, you might:

  • Hold meetings to openly discuss the upcoming changes
  • Provide bite-sized and regular training for staff on new intranet functions
  • Build a knowledge bank or how-to guides on all key actions
  • Keep training, even after deployment. You could use your new intranet to provide eLearning training modules or webinars.

Tip: One of the challenges of intranet adoption is that employees don’t always understand the benefit of an intranet over existing processes and tools they use. Its commonplace for employees to be resistant to adopting new technology on top of their already high-tech stack. In your communications, be explicit about why and when an intranet should be used.

Further reading: [Blog post] Proven Intranet Launch Ideas to Increase Engagement

Following launch: Dedicate ongoing resources to governance

Your intranet is a crucial piece of IT infrastructure, and it should be treated as such. Your central system could turn into a mere shadow of its full potential without the structures and policies of ongoing intranet governance. Organisations often fail to invest adequate governance resources on an ongoing basis such as intranet content management, which can lead to an intranet that isn’t performing (or as widely adopted) as originally intended.

Essentially your new intranet will need a range of champions to be assigned with key roles and responsibilities within the organisation. This includes:

  • Executive management to guide policies, strategy and vision
  • System administrators and content managers to maintain user guidelines and content quality, and
  • Content creators to develop style guides and training materials.

There should also be regular governance reviews to make sure your intranet is meeting expectations and scaling effectively with your organisation over time.

Tip: Even though you will not need it until after launching, consider putting together your governance plan prior to launch. This will ensure that your intranet remains relevant, updated and valuable from day one.

Further reading: [Blog post] Intranet Governance Best Practices

Over the long term: Keep the focus on key objectives

To get the best ROI from your new intranet, it’s important to check back with those initial intranet objectives on a regular basis. These can help you to refine processes, workflows and resources appropriately to ensure the intranet is truly supporting employees as they search, communicate, collaborate and carry out daily tasks.

For example, you might choose to digitise more HR forms and automate more common processes to free up employee focus and meet your goal of a 20% reduction in emails. Once you meet your targets you can set and work towards new ones, always keeping these aligned with your overall business objectives.

There are also some general tips that can help your intranet remain a vital presence as time goes on.

Tips for maintaining intranet engagement over the long term

  • Always direct any external emails, comments or memos to the intranet to maintain its presence as the central communication tool within the organisation
  • Encourage the C-Suite and leaders to maintain a visible presence on the intranet, through regular news, blog posts or videos
  • Make the most of quizzes, social forums and contests to keep things interesting
  • Invest in updating your intranet’s content including knowledge base and how-to guides with current information
  • Request intranet feedback via an online form, and use this feedback to shape future intranet design and improve user experience
  • Set up Google Analytics and regularly pull reports to measure how well your intranet is performing
  • Communicate the benefits regularly. Just like customers, it can be beneficial to remind employees why the intranet is helpful. For example, letting them know that if they need to find an expert on a topic, they can use the intranet search function to search for the topic and then filter by ‘people’. The person’s corporate directory entry with their specialist skills will then come up. Again, this is why it is beneficial to group your users by pain points and understand what benefits are most beneficial to them!

Further reading: [Blog post] Intranet Content ideas to Improve Adoption Rates

At the end of the day, approaching your intranet development with a personalised approach for your organisation’s specific needs will help you not only to develop a solution that actively meets your needs and supports your objectives over time, but also ensures a robust adoption and engagement rate with employees.

Remember, the only good intranet is the one that’s used!

If you’re just getting started on your journey to a new intranet solution or you already have one in place, remember that an intranet is not a platform that you set and forget. There is always something to be improved and optimised.

Employee needs will also change over time and the intranet needs to evolve to continue meeting their needs.

Want more insights? We strongly recommended you read the guide - How to Successfully Plan, Deploy and Launch an Intranet. This comprehensive guide will equip you with best practices and insights to properly plan, deploy and launch your intranet.

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