How to launch an intranet in a way that brings the highest possible ROI to your organization?

If you are in the process of launching your first intranet or replacing an existing solution, this blog will help you prepare for the process and implement a successful project. 

While every organization is different and may have different business needs, the following steps apply to every organization and are a one-size-fits-all guide for launching a social intranet. 

Intranet Pre-launch Phase

There are certain steps to go through before you launch your organization’s intranet. Let’s take a closer look. 

Define your goals

During the pre-launch phase, it’s important that you define intranet goals and expectations

You can define your goals based on the current challenges your organization faces. For example, if you know that employee engagement is low at your company, one of the goals can be to increase employee engagement. 

Furthermore, many employees today face challenges caused by information overload. According to Gallagher, it’s the number one problem in internal communications. Workers spend hours every week looking for information they need to do their jobs. According to McKinsey, an employee spends roughly 2 hours per day searching for information. That’s a lot of wasted productivity. So another example of a goal may be to boost employee productivity by improving information search. 

information-search-intranet

Some other goals can be to increase the sense of belongingness in the workplace, improve the digital employee experience, or improve the overall organizational alignment.   

According to Harvard Business Review, as much as 95% of employees report not understanding the company strategy, and intranets can help employees align with the ultimate business goals.

Build or buy?

Now that you have set your goals, it is important to decide whether you want to build an intranet in house or buy a ready-made solution

Because of its cost and complexity, most organizations choose not to build an intranet from scratch. 

According to research, on average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time, while delivering 56% less value than predicted. Software projects run the highest risk of cost and schedule overruns. So the real question is: Are you ready to take these risks and build your homegrown intranet?

Another important consideration in the build or buy intranet debate is that building a custom solution such as SharePoint, can, according to Nielsen Norman, take at least fourteen months (sometimes even years), with a commensurately slower time to value.

However, when companies realize a need for a solution such as an intranet, very few can afford to wait for months until implementation. 

On the other hand, ready-made intranet platforms can be implemented within days or weeks, depending on the company size.

Learn about why large organizations choose Haiilo intranet!

Choose the right provider

If your decision was to buy an intranet, in this intranet pre-launch phase you need to evaluate different intranet vendors and choose a solution that is the most likely to help you achieve the set goals and objectives

There are plenty of different solutions out there so peer review sites such as G2 or Capterra can help you find the best providers that meet your expectations. 

Some other helpful resources to help you with research are ClearBox and SoftwareReviews reports. The former focuses purely on the functionality of intranet software, while the latter takes into consideration the customer experience and the relations providers build with their customers.

Intranet Launch Phase

So what should the intranet launch phase look like? 

Now that you have chosen your intranet provider, it’s time to prepare for the launch. Let’s take a look at the important intranet launch steps. 

Branding

Hopefully, your intranet vendor allows you to brand the software to match your organization’s visual identity. You should be able to at least adjust the colors and use your company’s logo in the intranet. 

Matching your intranet’s brand identity with the organization’s corporate brand can create a greater sense of belongingness to the organization and create emotional connections which, in return, usually results in higher user adoption. 

Integrations

U.S. employees change through an average of 13 apps 30 times per day, according to Asana’s Anatomy of Work Index 2021 report. And 26% of surveyed employees say app overload makes them less efficient at work. So integrating your intranet with other tools employees use is critical. 

Off-the-shelf intranet solutions come with pre-built native integrations with the most popular workplace technology on the market, which provides flexibility to shape your platform the way you want. They also offer open APIs if you need custom integrations. Some may even go a step further and influence their product roadmaps based on your integration needs. 

When it comes to intranets, most organizations require integrations with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace

Roles, permissions, and workflows

Role-based rules and permissions are an important part of the intranet launch phase. Setting up appropriate access controls is critical for ensuring that only the right people have access to the right intranet functionalities

For example, you probably don’t want to allow anyone besides internal communications departments to publish content, while you may only want to allow your IT department to delete or deactivate users. 

In this step, it is also good to define and set up workflows and approval processes to streamline your internal comms campaigns and make your team more efficient. 

intranet-launch-approvals

Ideally, your intranet provider integrates with your LDAP and Active Directory so that setting up all of these rules and role-based permissions is easy and follows your company’s hierarchy and structure. 

Content calendar

Before you even launch your intranet, it would be good to have a content editorial calendar for at least one month ahead. 

Make sure that your intranet content is engaging and personalized based on employees’ job functions, departments, locations, languages, interests, and other criteria. 

Remember that digital personalization in the workplace is critical for high employee engagement, so I hope your social employee intranet vendor allows you to create and distribute hyper-personalized content. 

Also, it is important to use different content types and formats to test what makes employees tick and engage. For example, you can create internal company podcasts, post polls, publish employee-generated videos, or simply send internal company newsletters with important updates. 

Something most internal communications professionals find extremely valuable today is AI-powered content creation. Platforms like Haiilo use generative AI to help IC departments write content 10 times faster!

Training and onboarding

Contrary to what you might think, it’s best to start with training and onboarding prior to the launch. It’s important to plan training sessions for the entire workforce

These sessions may be different for some specific roles and job titles, but the ultimate goal should be for everyone to get familiar with all the features and functionalities and understand how they are of value to them and their daily work. You can start with the core group, the admins and content creators, and progressively expand your training sessions to end-users.

Internal storytelling is a great strategy to use here. For example, you could have your own employees share their stories about how they use a specific feature or functionality in a way that allows them to be more productive. 

And the best part, running and getting onboarding doesn’t have to be limited to internal comms or HR. You can have your first adopters and ambassadors share their own experiences and best practices, or hold formal training sessions.

Internal marketing

So how to successfully launch an intranet and ensure great user adoption? In the average organization, 31% of employees don’t use the company intranet at all, according to Enplug, which makes it difficult to leverage the benefits of an intranet.  

Historically, low intranet user adoption has been one of the biggest challenges for organizations. Besides just poor user interface and lack of overall value, poor internal marketing is usually a big culprit. 

On your intranet launch date and during the following months you should have a clear internal marketing strategy to catch employees’ attention and get them interested. Without their buy-in, your project is most likely to fail!

You can have a mandatory webinar or podcast about the new solution. You should leverage your digital signage so that the intranet is always on top of your employees’ minds. To motivate employees, you could think of how to add gamification to the entire process, recognizing and rewarding those who are the most active users of the intranet. 

In your internal newsletter, you can consider implementing a section designated to intranet best practices – tips and tricks to help your employees get the most out of this new solution. 

Last but not least, make sure that you use multichannel communications to reach employees on their favorite communications channels such as Slack, MS Teams, email, SMS, or others. 

With Haiilo, managing your content calendar is easy and fun! 👇

intranet-calendar-content

Intranet Post-launch Phase

After you launch your intranet, it is important to stay on top of the usage to keep the momentum and drive higher user adoption

This is what you should do in the post-launch phase. 

Analytics

As soon as you launch your intranet you should stay close to the data and metrics and map them to the previously defined goals and metrics. 

Ideally, your intranet solution should give you valuable insights about intranet usage, readership, engagement, and other activities. 

By analyzing your intranet data, you should be able to understand what type of content best resonates with your internal audiences. These insights can help you better segment your internal audiences, create better content, and increase overall engagement

Some social intranets and enterprise social networks come with built-in employee surveys to measure employee engagement, eNPS, and other important people-related metrics. The most advanced solutions won’t give you just raw data but also valuable recommendations for improvement that can help you find anomalies and prevent high turnover and low engagement.

intranet-launch-analytics

Feedback

Three weeks after the intranet launch date you can already start collecting feedback from your employees

Use company-wide surveys to ask your employees about their intranet experiences. Here are a few questions you can use to get valuable input. 

  • How frequently do you use our newly implemented intranet?
  • How satisfied are you with the value our new intranet provides? Please explain. 
  • Do you find it easy to locate necessary company information, documents, and people?
  • Do you find the content in our intranet engaging and relevant?
  • What kind of content would you like to see more of?
  • What is your favorite thing about our new intranet?
  • What is your least favorite thing about our new intranet?
  • Was the intranet training valuable to you?
  • Do you have any other comments or recommendations for improvement?

Check out our report on the synergy of multichannel communication and employee listening, featuring Forrester!

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