Get the Whole Picture Before Launching an Intranet Project


Launching an intranet is a complicated project, even in the best circumstances. It requires a comprehensive business requirements review and analysis before any technical decisions are made.


Earlier this week, we discussed the need to evaluate your business goals and technical environment prior to committing to SharePoint, one of the leading collaboration and intranet platforms. But even before you reach that point in your project evaluation, you need to poll your company's team managers and users to find out what they actually want from an intranet, regardless of how it is implemented.


The Intranet Development Questionnaire, from our partners at gantthead.com, asks respondents to rate their interest in more than 30 capabilities and applications that are commonly supported by intranet projects. The responses are laid out in a grid, as you can see in the figure below, by the time sensitivity of desired implementation: now, within 6 months, or at some indeterminate point in the future.



Some of the key areas covered in the grid are:


  • Discussion groups
  • Whiteboard
  • Workflow (purchase order processing, etc.)
  • Email integration
  • Distance learning
  • Desktop videoconferencing
  • Internet Phone
  • External availability (marketing site)


The list is fairly comprehensive, and covers most any function that your company might be looking for from an intranet.


The questionnaire also asks a series of questions about your current IT environment, including issues like migrating from legacy groupware or databases and your client PC ecosystem. It also asks some cursory financial questions on budget and maintenance plans.


All in all, the 5-page survey is quite in-depth, even suggesting that you attach supporting documents such as a current Web tree and the company's annual report for reference. Once your stakeholders review it and provide the required information, you will have a good starting point in hand for reviewing the true objectives of your intranet project.


As a companion to the questionnaire, you may also want to check out the Intranet Roles Skills Matrix, also from gantthead.com. The simple Excel-based tool helps you further evaluate your team's capacities in "soft" skills areas, such as communications and general good will inside the company. After all, intranet projects can be as political and they are technical.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jul 8, 2011 11:23 AM LCSShaw LCSShaw  says:

You need to go further than using a questionnaire before any re-design or new site build I would suggest:

Strategic interviews: establish a vision with your top team

User testing: how easy is it to navigate content, complete tasks...

User survey: ask users what they like and don't like

Expert review: do your own research, read the content, try the links

Web stats: analyse your webstats and feedback

Pull it all together, highlight the recurring issues, compile a development strategy to address these issues. Build a prototype, ask a selection of users to test etc etc. Common practice?


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