How to start intranet renewal

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There are several potential needs for intranet renewal. The technology platform may be rotting away, the intranet in its present form does not meet today’s needs, the organization has changed in mergers and acquisitions, a new strategy combines formerly independent units into one global actor with the resultant intranet needs, or the intranet has just become so stale that the best solution is to start again from scratch and launch it under a new “brand” to make it useful to the organization.

North Patrol is a consulting firm specialized in the design of digital services and information systems. We shape ideas into a vision and service concept, find the best architectural and technological solutions, design a functional user experience, and compete to find the ideal partner for implementation work. We do not sell implementation projects, nor do we sell licenses; we are genuinely on the side of the customer.

6 April 2016

Perttu Tolvanen

Typically, Communications is the owner of the intranet. Also typically, the need for renewal is first identified in Communications. How can we make the rest of the organization to see that the intranet needs change?

We are often asked how an intranet renewal project should be started and how the organization could prepare for the renewal project. What preparations could be made even before the implementation is started, or even before a pre-study? Of course, organizations work differently, and not all methods are suitable for everyone, but our typical advice includes propositions like these:

1. Assemble a core project group and get commitment

One of the most important things to realize is that it’s no use to ruminate over the renewal by yourself. It will only lead to you finishing the project all by yourself. Intranets are always created collaboratively!

Therefore, assemble a core project group. Bring it up with other units closely involved in the intranet, such as HR, IT, R&D, not forgetting business operations, and find out their view of the intranet’s present situation. Ideally, you’re already actively working with these people.

The core project group should include at least three or four committed, enthusiastic people.

2. Identify internal projects with potential effect

Find out whether there are any ongoing internal projects within your organization.

What possible effects could they have on the intranet?

How could these projects be brought to support one another?

Examples include an organization-wide strategy renewal, physical relocation of offices, changes in the physical and/or digital working environment and/or working methods, mobile-enabling internal applications and procuring mobile devices, the procurement of an HR system, consolidating and unifying user directories…

3. Define development needs

Have a discussion with your core group. Define the most important reasons why the intranet should be renewed.

What does the group think are the pros and cons of the present situation? What should be developed?

What will the renewal achieve? What are the benefits? Why do we need resourcing for the project? What will happen if the renewal is not carried out?

4. Chart possibilities and get inspired

Take your core group and get to know the intranets of benchmark organizations. Seek inspiration, sound out experiences. Read blogs. Participate in industry seminars or training events. Ask implementers to visit you with their solutions and views on the future of intranets. Look for solution alternatives to the challenges you identify. Interview colleagues. Explore technology alternatives. The world is full of possibilities! Which of them could work in your organization?

5. Prioritize development

In the core group, pinpoint the main goals of your intranet renewal.

Can the intranet renewal be connected to another internal development project, such as strategy renewal or a change in working methods? Could the projects support one another?

Which goals are realistically implementable at the first stage? Which should be left to ripen until the next stage?

6. Make a project plan

With your core group, outline the main points of the project plan: what we’re after, in which stages, on which schedule, what resources and what kind of commitment from which stakeholders is needed.

Do we need a pre-study or feasibility study? (Typically, a pre-study looks what the various personnel roles need and what they think about the development of the digital working environment, internal communications and collaboration. The pre-study also addresses alternative concepts and technologies, their applicability to the organizational processes and the IT architecture, and estimate the costs and workloads of the implementation.)

Get commitment from your core group and their managers to the drafted project plan.

7. Get a sponsor

Go visit at least the communications, HR, IT, and possibly also development/business operations management if they haven’t been included in previous stages. Tell about your plans and encourage comments.

Achieve a goal of getting at least one C-suite or management group sponsor for your renewal. If your own supervisor isn’t enthusiastic, use your meetings throughout the journey to put out feelers to find someone.

Discuss the renewal with your sponsor. What does she or he think should be the objectives? What are the development needs?

8. Get management commitment, mandate and resources

Present to management the problems of the status quo, and put forward your project plan as the solution.

Get a mandate to go forward with the project. Get support behind your project, as well as the required financing for a pre-study.

Together with management, put together a steering group for the project. Make sure you will keep the steering group in particular up to date on how the pre-study is progressing, and promise to present its results to management.

Perttu Tolvanen

Perttu Tolvanen is a web concept design and content management system expert.

Perttu consults with clients on project planning and defining requirements, and supports customers in selecting content management systems and implementation partners. His areas of specialisation include facilitating concept design workshops and selecting content management systems.

Perttu has ten years of experience with web and intranet projects, including serving as a project manager and consultant. Earlier in his career Perttu has worked in procurement and as a project manager at a large media company, a content management system consultant at a large IT company and an independent, neutral consultant at his own firm. He is also a well-known seminar speaker and blogger. Perttu is also the editor of, a Finnish blog about the Finnish internet and its creators.

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