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Does Your Intranet Work?

posted Oct 1, 2009, 10:05 AM by Matt Lankford   [ updated Mar 23, 2010, 10:14 AM ]

Years ago, if someone asked me to build them an intranet I would usually give them a smart ass remark akin to "why don't I just take a pile of your cash and help you put it in the fireplace?"

I have built many intranets in the past. They were all "technically" great but would never get used. After hard work is poured into something, it is a real disappointment when people don't use it.

Today, I put intranets together without even thinking about it. All the technology is just there, I don't have to worry about security. I don't have to worry about technology. Someone else that I trust handles all of that.... and they do it for next to nothing.

The key is to keep things as simple as possible and have useful information in it right from the start. The way to do this is to just start using it. Then I let others have access slowly so that people WANT to have access.

It's funny how just the little change of me using something and treating it as something important that others are not allowed to see.... makes them want to have access.

Another big step is to keep things where people without technical skills can update the information without hassle. If it becomes a pain to update.... it will not get updated.

Building intranets this way is very natural and they get used for what they are best at... keeping the private corporate information accessible to those that need it and out of the hands of those that don't.

It also helps by eliminating the feature creep that comes into the "planning" stage... that time when nothing exists and talk of grandiose things turns what should be a simple, useful thing into an impossibility.

If you need an intranet for your company, my advice is to start by putting in commonly used information... have one person that is responsible for keeping it current, give them the needed time to get that job done before anything else.

Adding new features should be done one at a time. This will make sure that the whole thing will not stall because it is too big to know where to begin.