June 5, 2015 | InBrief

How to create a company intranet that breaks down department silos and increases collaboration

How to create a company intranet that breaks down department silos and increases collaboration

Picture an organization that is used to sharing documents via email exchanges and hard print outs.  Team members have to contribute to a common deliverable, but are left duplicating efforts and working on outdated versions of the document because updates are made offline and then emailed to the rest of the team.  This leads to frustration and inefficiencies.  Or worse yet, imagine an organization that does not share files and is left with an information void and resources with institutional knowledge.

Many companies that operate in silos would benefit from increased collaboration within and across departments. Even companies that do regularly collaborate could benefit from implementing best practices with files sharing and creating a standardized intranet platform for the whole organization to use. 

What do I get out of it?

There are many benefits of an easy-to-use intranet site, including:

  • Improved collaboration and communication
  • Improved productivity through easier access to information and resources
  • Greater engagement
  • Cost savings

So what do we need to do first? 

  • Engage upper management and gain support of the intranet site creation initiative

  • Create a Project Management Office (PMO team) to drive the initiative

  • Identify stakeholders who will be affected by the project

Who should help out?

In general, everybody across the organization will need to contribute to make the site development and adoption a success.  But, at a minimum, you need to engage: Upper Management, the IT Department, Department Leads, and a PMO Team.  Below is a depiction of how the groups will collaborate.  

What do you need to do?

Below is a generalized list of critical steps to follow when beginning to undertake an intranet site development process:

  • Meet with stakeholders to:
  • Define goals, objectives and requirements
  • Define an initial site structure format
  • Create a requirements document outlining the site structure and content
  • Collaborate with IT to:
  • Ensure available technology can support site requirements
  • Enhance the requirements document based on feedback from IT
  • Present  the working site structure document to stakeholders and then finalize
  • Define department site owners (e.g., marketing lead, product development lead, etc.) who will be responsible for:
  • Determining the content to be included for their areas
  • Ensuring content is updated
  • Approving list of users / user groups accessing their content
  • Collaborate with these site owners to define user groups
  • Collaborate with IT to establish the user group profiles in the site and test security levels
  • Collaborate with IT to develop and test the site development
  • Roll out the site across the organization
  • Collaborate with stakeholders and site contributors to load all relevant information to their site “categories” and to continuously enhance the site

What else should you know?

To help ensure success, there a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • Engage your IT Department early and often. They are going to be a critical part of this initiative and should be included in critical meetings and conversations throughout the project.
  • Seek contribution from all departments and end-users to ensure their needs are being heard. To ensure system adoption, end-users need to influence the site design since they will ultimately be responsible for updating the content and using the system.
  • Conduct regular check-ins throughout the project (e.g., weekly status meetings) to discuss the project and track the critical activities.
  • Leadership needs to remain engaged throughout the project and should lead by example once the intranet site is implemented (e.g., when file sharing use embedded hyperlinks for people to download files from the intranet site).

So remember, if you want to begin to break down those inter-departmental silos, maybe all it takes is an easy-to-use company intranet that is developed with the end-users’ needs in mind and makes it easier to collaborate and file share!

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