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How to Implement a Best in Class Intranet 2.0 Site

How to Implement a Best in Class Intranet 2.0 Site

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Published by Mark Fidelman
The days of static, outdated content on your Intranet are over. There are a myriad of vendors that provide solutions but only a handful that are next generation. While Sharepoint leads the pack, the tool is locked into an outdated platform which limits its Web 2.0 features. Companies like Jive, MindTouch and ThoughtFarmer don’t have legacy software to maintain and thus have been built to incorporate more Web 2.0 features. The trick for these vendors is to build Web 2.0 applications that work within the enterprise.
The days of static, outdated content on your Intranet are over. There are a myriad of vendors that provide solutions but only a handful that are next generation. While Sharepoint leads the pack, the tool is locked into an outdated platform which limits its Web 2.0 features. Companies like Jive, MindTouch and ThoughtFarmer don’t have legacy software to maintain and thus have been built to incorporate more Web 2.0 features. The trick for these vendors is to build Web 2.0 applications that work within the enterprise.

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Published by: Mark Fidelman on Jul 01, 2009
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How to Implement a Best in Class Intranet 2.0 Site
 The days of static,outdated content on yourIntranet are over. There are a myriad of vendorsthat provide solutions but only a handful that arenext generation. While Sharepoint leads thepack, the tool is locked into an outdated platformwhich limits its Web 2.0 features. Companies like Jive,MindTouchand ThoughtFarmerdon’t have legacy software to maintain and thus have beenbuilt to incorporate more Web 2.0 features. Thetrick for these vendors is to build Web 2.0applications that work within the enterprise. Today’s corporate intranets are typically anemployee directory, some corporate relateddocuments and a few messages from the CEOwithout any ability to update or refresh the content unless IT got involved. Worse,IT was usually devoted to running mission critical applications with little regard tothe Intranet. Fortunately, many CIO’s are looking to bring Web 2.0 tools into theorganization because employees have either brought them inside the firewallalready or they have been demanding them en masse. There are still governanceand security challenges, but these are in theory being addressed.
First Step: Organize the Intranet Team
Executive sponsorship is important and critical to the success of your new Intranet.Select an Executive that is empowered and committed to the success of theprogram. Ideally you’ll also have one team leader from each department and aproject manager in charge of the implementation. Each team lead will define thedepartmental goals and the timeline in which they need to be implemented. Don’tunderestimate this task as it can be daunting. I’ve seen many intranets deraileddue to infighting or scope creep. Keep the discussions high level while explaining tothe team that they will have many chances to refine and change their team sites.
Second: Conduct an Internal Survey
It’s important to understand how the current intranet is being used. If you don’thave one, conduct a survey that asks employees what they would like to see in theirnew intranet. Based on the survey results you’ll see where the gaps are and whatadditional resources, experience and investment you’ll need to complete theimplementation. Unless your company employees have been surveyed 50 times inthe past 30 days, most will enthusiastically share their input. I have used tools like
 
SurveyMonkey.com, Limeshare.com and Vertical Responseto conduct the surveyseach have their strengths and weaknesses.
Third: Conduct a Needs Analysis
In order for your Intranet to incorporate some of the latest technologies, you’ll needto talk with your front line younger employees that are plugged into today’s Web2.0 tools. Your mission because you’ve chosen to accept it, is to translate the socialWeb 2.0 technologies into business technologies that help create a CollaborativeIntranet site. Your team leaders should also have given you a more refined internal“statement of work” that outlines the needs of their department. The statement of work will also include an Intranet philosophy about how the intranet will be seeded,maintainedand cultivated. Too often, and because of the unique characteristics of Intranet 2.0, the content becomes unmanageable and unproductive.Once you’ve worked through each department objectives and somehow managed tocreate an overall plan (this is a difficult task by any measure) then the search forvendors begins. Don’t think an in-house system can be built and maintained unlessyou’re an Intranet 2.0 vendor, the industry is moving too fast and it’s not your corecompetency right?
Fourth: Measure, Monitor and Dashboards
One of the primary characteristics of an Intranet 2.0 solution is the ability to applymetrics to projects, tasks, content, and etcetera and monitor them over time. Thebest solutions use Dashboards and reporting tools that give you real time updateson the metrics. This allow the entire organization to view the health of theirdepartment or if you are an Executive the capability of viewing the metrics acrossdepartments. As a result, the enterprise is nimbler and is much more competitive.
Fifth: Governance and Security
According toAIIM, one of the primary complaints about Sharepoint is that theirgovernance and security infrastructure needs a lot of work; “successful users of Sharepoint do not view security and custom development and integration as amongthe product’s strengths, and say the latter two can also cause delayedimplementations and cost overruns”. Not to pick on Sharepoint (but I am due totheir industry leading position), this should be a higher level priority for you andMicrosoft. You need to develop crystal clear guidelines for who gets to see what and how theysee it. You don’t want Johnny Hacker in IT looking at company sales data thenacting on that information in the public markets. You also want to conform toSarbanes Oxley and ensure you’re following their strict guidelines. Best in classIntranet solutions have easy to map governance tools and have tight securityaround sensitive data. Johnny should be able to exploit product holes in order toextract sensitive information.
 
Sixth: Data Integration and Collaboration
Now that you defined what you are going to measure and have implementedsecurity and governance protocols, it’s time to integrate data from around theenterprise. I often hear executives groan at this step as it’s always been difficult inthe past. Yet the new solutions being offered today make it easier to not onlyintegrate data, but allow teams to collaborate around the data in real time.Sales, Marketing, Operations, and R&D can now collaborate around data comingfrom each department to define the next generation product or service offering.For example, if my sales are off for the latest widget, lead generation reveals asignificant drop off during the past 3 months, and the Operations team is reportingan increased inventory build, the departments can examine the data collaborativelyto help R&D design Widget 2.0 In the past, this information was difficult to get inone location and was almost always out of date.
Seventh: Create an Intranet Site Map Draft
 This step displays the overall architecture of the site. Mapping the site gives theIntranet team perspective and an overall view of the layout, database connections,and governance. In this step you are confirming the structure is accurate and thatnothing has been left out. However, it’s still a draft and will be updated after thenext step.
Eighth: Issue an RFP
 Take all of the hard work you’ve done aboveand break it into a set of RFP questions.Also, make sure you’ve captured the high level Intranet goals of the organizationand that it’s clearly articulated in the Executive summary. Identify the list of vendors and then issue the RFP. There’s a whole science to the RFP process, butessentially it boils down to how well the vendors match your needs, how viable theyare as an organization, the total cost of ownership, and how strong their referencesare (yes you must check).
Ninth: Select and Implement
Ideally you have selected a vendor that met most of your high priorityrequirements. Break the implementation into phases and milestones. Bestpractices dictate that you set up an internal governance committee to monitor theimplementation of the Intranet. This can be the same group as in step one or a newgroup empowered to oversee the project. The key focus areas in this step are toensure the right people are helping to implement the solution, that they are readyto resolve the inevitable issues that will surface, and that they assign the rightresources to accomplish the milestones set out in each phase. This group shouldalso be responsible for selecting the content that will populate the initial intranetsolution.

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