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The intranet is not an IT project

IT plays a major role when it comes to the intranet. But technology is only one half of it. The other half is structure, culture and communication.

Current studies – including our survey on internal communication (IC) – show that many companies are currently addressing or planning the further development of their intranets. Since medium-sized companies rarely have a department for internal communication, the project is often assigned to IT. After all, most of the work during a relaunch is done here. In addition, the new intranet – keyword Digital Workplace – must fit the digitalisation strategy. Also for budget reasons, all other departments are happy when the IT-department is responsible for the relaunch.

Of course, the IT department must play a major role when it comes to such an important internal tool as the intranet. But an intranet launch or relaunch is never exclusively an IT project. From our point of view, there are four reasons why the intranet should be treated as an interdisciplinary project and various other players should be brought on board.

1. Technology needs rules to function properly

There are many great IT systems and apps that simplify collaboration. There is one thing they can’t take away from us: we need to work as a team to define how we work with them. This is especially true for the intranet. Rules help to answer the most important questions: is everyone allowed to write news or is there a central editorial office? Who can post articles? Who approves them? Where do enough topics come from, but not too many? How do we deal with (critical) comments – or do we not allow them at all?

An intranet relaunch is a good opportunity to revise and further develop old processes. It often happens that a new (social) intranet is implemented – but only a few employees contribute relevant content because the rules and processes are not clearly defined and communicated.

2. Technology must incorporate the actual and target culture

What does our corporate culture look like today and how do we want it to be in the future? The answer to this question has a decisive impact on the design of an intranet. For example, if the company has a very hierarchical organisation, a social intranet “from everyone for everyone” will trigger fears rather than enthusiasm – both on the part of managers and employees. And especially with a social intranet, acceptance and active cooperation are crucial, otherwise it remains a nice, but empty shell.

At the same time, the intranet offers the possibility of accompanying a desired cultural development like no other tool. If, for example, cooperation is to become more open and communicative, appropriate formats can be played via the intranet. One example is the gradual expansion of dialogue formats. The first step could be to allow comments and to deal constructively with critical questions. Later on, the employees could be encouraged to participate step by step – first with entertaining contests such as a photo competition, and later also on critical topics.

3. Intranet must be part of the overall concept

The intranet is not the internal communication – no matter how good it is. In addition, there are usually other channels that need to interact with intranet communication – from personal communication, meeting structures and staff meetings, to posters, monitors and newsletters, as well as printed or digital magazines for employees. The interaction with MS Teams or an employee app is particularly interesting in this context. It must be clear which information is communicated on which channel and in which order.

By the way, an intranet relaunch is also a good opportunity to test the entire IC concept and adapt it to current requirements.

4. Relaunch must be accompanied by communication

In some companies there is an intranet relaunch and nobody notices it. For the technology to be used in a way that it pays off for the company’s goals, it needs communicative support before, during and after it is introduced. This can involve training – in this case not only technical, but also editorial training. But an internal advertising campaign is also useful to encourage employees to use the intranet and to fill the technical tool with life.

Conclusion

When you consider these requirements, it becomes clear that an intranet relaunch must be closely accompanied by internal communications. But not only that. An intranet is usually the most important internal medium. The more employees participate, the higher the acceptance will be. In addition to an interdisciplinary project team, it is worthwhile to involve all relevant target groups via workshops, surveys, or other participation opportunities, so that in the end a functional, lively intranet is created.

Do you need support or a communicative sparring partner for your intranet launch or relaunch? Then get in touch with us! 

*Photo by @uxindo on Unsplash

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