How to avoid failing when you roll out your intranet

eXo Platform Blog

Over the years, we have seen several projects go bust because of a failed roll-out. Of course, an intranet project can fail for any number of reasons. However, even a sound intranet project can fail just because you roll it out to everybody in your company at once or over a period that’s too short. Obviously, “too short” can mean very different things depending on a company’s size and maturity.

A sudden roll-out does not allow proper user training and onboarding, technical and functional back and forth, or content migration. Users can dislike your intranet because of very minor usability flaws or a lack of training, but once they dislike it, the tide is difficult to turn even if you revamp everything.

Deploying your intranet project overnight with all your users and thinking the project will sell itself are sure ways to ensure that your adoption will fail before you even get started. Instead, design a gradual roll-out plan starting with a small group of users and teams.

SMB roll-out strategy

This strategy will suit companies of a relatively small size (less than 250 employees) structured around one main business line.

Start with a panel of 20–30 power users representing your different functions. Help them map their usage to the tool, train them to use the tool for their tasks, and get their feedback. Make several “feedback–change implementation” iterations. When the project gets sufficient maturity with the power users group, roll it out to the rest of the company, leveraging your power users.

There are no rules regarding the roll-out timeline, but in most cases, a project can be rolled out to 80–100% of the company by the end of the first year. Selecting your power users at the beginning of the project and keeping them in the loop during the entire project greatly improves your chances of quick adoption.

Intermediate-sized companies

This strategy will suit companies with 250–5000 employees serving several business lines.

Outside support functions that might be centralized and support the whole group, most intermediate companies function like a sum of SMBs. Your roll-out plan should start with one business line (think of it as one SMB) and proceed as above. Once you secure your first pilot group, roll it out to the next one (or several if you feel confident), using your first success as an example and leverage. When the tool has been rolled out to the entire  company and successfully used for work tasks and collaboration, promote cross-layers in the form of global company communications, transverse multifunctional projects, etc.

Rolling out your project to 50% of your staff in the first year is a very ambitious target that is rarely achieved in practice. Depending on your company’s size and complexity, you should aim at a 25–50% roll-out in the first year, representing one to three business lines.

Large companies

This strategy will suit companies with more than 5000 employees.

Large companies include several business lines and several support functions and they often function as separate companies, locations, and brands operating under the same umbrella. In that case, it is likely that your intranet project will focus on one particular subcompany, geography, business line, transverse business function, or usage. An enterprise social network for the whole company, a human resources intranet for the HR function, and a company intranet for your European location can be treated as independent, intermediate-size projects.

What was your roll-out strategy? Do not hesitate to share your tips

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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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