Don’t fail your intranet project: avoid these 4 common pitfalls

If you are about to sponsor and lead an intranet project in your organization, you have probably read up on the subject. You know about the main phases of such an endeavour, and you may be expecting some difficulties and delays along the road.

However, our experience shows that intranet sponsors usually do not expect what ends up going wrong. In this blog post, we focus on some common pitfalls for an intranet project.

Missing knowledge on user requirements

The single most common and most damaging pitfall for an intranet project is not fully capturing and expressing user requirements. All the business and financial benefits of a successful intranet are conditional upon users adopting the system. If employees do not see the value of the intranet, it will just be another forgotten tool that nobody uses or consults.

The surest path to a failed intranet project is to ignore the end users and use the sponsor team’s specific requirements as a general guideline for the new intranet. However, even when the project team realizes the necessity of consulting users and the project schedule includes a consultation phase, the results land far from the mark. Small and restricted panels, short timeframes, evolving requirements throughout the project, and feature escalation are all things that can go wrong when expressing user requirements. Some say that expressing users’ requirements is not a science but an art.

Focus on features instead of integration

Due to the lack of knowledge regarding user requirements, most intranet projects focus on features rather than the overall user experience. In the budget and timeline tradeoff, teams choose to treat the intranet as a separate service instead of putting it at the center of the employee experience.
Most of the time, you will not be able to produce a compelling intranet without some integrations. For example, if half of the staff members at your insurance company use an actuarial calculation tool every day, you will need to integrate that tool into your intranet. Otherwise, you will fail to convince 50 percent of your workforce of the intranet’s benefits.

Over-ambitious roll-out

It’s no exaggeration to say that an intranet project can fail because you roll it out to everybody in your company at once or over a too-short period. A sudden roll-out does not allow proper user training and onboarding, technical and functional back-and-forth, or content migration.

While a gradual roll-out appears to be common sense, most intranet project leaders tend to accelerate their roll-outs because of internal pressures. The technical team focuses on delivering the technical part as fast as possible, and the business owners are in a hurry to reap the communication benefits. In most cases, however, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to intranet roll-outs.

Insufficient change management

In our experience, the human factor in an intranet project is always underestimated.

Most project managers expect that with attention to making the user interface easy to use and with proper user training, the intranet will be a success. Most vendors claim that adoption will happen as long as the client invests in training all the users.

In reality, you must remember two things. First, change management and adoption constitute 80 percent of a project’s success or failure, and they must be considered from the beginning. Second, the best consultants and trainings cannot make up for a lack of focus on internal change management since no one knows your business processes better than you do.

I hope you found the above information helpful. We will give some pointers on avoiding the above pitfalls and minimizing their impact in future posts.

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I am eXo’s chief operating officer, ultimately responsible for all operations ensuring client acquisition and success. In this blog, I write about modern workplaces and their benefits to organisations and their people. Occasionally, I also blog about my personal areas of interest, such as communication, personal development, work–life balance, sustainability and gender equality.

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