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Why do intranets fail? (Part One)

by Martyn Green on August 17, 2012

A common theme when I meet new clients is helping them understand why their existing intranet hasn’t met the needs of their staff and business.

Despite having the right intentions and investing time and effort into their intranet’s deployment, they are left confused as to why their project hasn’t succeeded.

Over the next three posts I will cover the key reasons why I believe intranet projects fail to take off.

In this post I’ll be discussing how your budget, objectives and timescales are tackled can have a big impact on your project’s outcome.

Unclear Objectives

Just how clear are your objectives? Without a clear set of objectives there’ll be no direction for your project.

It’s essential that you have a set of SMART goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.

I find it’s a good idea at this point to have a discussion with some of the key decision makers within your business. This will give you a thorough understanding of your organisation’s business objectives and strategy. You’ll then be in a far better position to assess how your intranet can help achieve these objectives.

As well as speaking to decision makers, a brainstorming session with a cross section of employees will give you an idea of of what their intranet requirements are.

When you create your objectives, ensure they are clear and precise. Simply saying “we want to make staff more productive” just isn’t good enough. Get right down to the specifics.

A statement such as “all staff will access training materials via the intranet within the next 6 months” specifies what you want to achieve within a set timeframe.

Once you’ve got your clear set of objectives, I recommend using them as a referral point throughout your project to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

Unrealistic Budget

Be realistic about what you can achieve with the budget that you have to spend. You may have big plans but not the funding to carry them out. In this instance I recommend that clients focus their efforts on one area of the business rather than trying to solve all the organisation’s issues at once.

Trying to do do too much with limited funds can also lead to cutting corners. One organisation I spoke to had created their previous intranet on a shoe string budget, skipping over many of the essential elements of the project. This proved to be a false economy, and as a result they have consulted us to undertake a new project.

Unrealistic Timescales

Every project needs deadlines but they need to be realistic. Trying to achieve everything at once is an easy trap companies often fall into. By creating a phased approach to your intranet you can prioritise what you want to implement and when.

What needs to be resolved now and what can wait? I recently worked with a company who needed an easy way of locating staff from around their organisation. For them, a contacts application was a high priority and it was agreed that this should be done during the first phase of implementation. Other less pressing business issues could be tackled in the next phase.

Once you’ve got your objectives, budget and timescales sorted, you can select the right project leaders, which is what I’ll cover in my next post.

Topics: 1. Learn

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