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.
Intranet project failure: the common pitfalls to avoid


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.

1. 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.
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.

2. 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.

3. 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 projects 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.

4. 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.
Discover the new generation company intranet

Digital Workplace FAQs

You will find here Frequently Asked Questions about intranet with all the answers in one place.

A digital workplace is a next generation of intranet solutions or intranet 2.0 that is based on three pillars: communication, collaboration and information. In a way this definition is true but it doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of the term. Here are some definitions of digital workplace:

  • An evolution of the intranet
  • A user centric digital experience

See the full definition of digital workplace

intranet is a term used with abundance whenever the subject of internal communication and collaboration is brought up which makes defining it a bit challenging. In its simplest form, an intranet is an internal website for your organization. It is used mainly for top-down communication where employees can access corporate news, policies and announcements.


See the full definition of intranet

Collaboration is “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing”.


See the full definition of collaboration

Here are some definitions of digital workplace:


  • Team collaboration
  • Cross-departmental and interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Community collaboration
  • Strategic partnerships and alliances
  • Supply chain collaboration


Find out the different types of collaboration in business

To gather a thorough understanding of intranets and their different types, let’s walk through its history from the early days up to now:

  1. Intranet Portals
  2. Enterprise Social Netwrok (ESN)
  3. Intranet 2.0

Find out the different types of intranet solutions

The main difference between intranets and extranets lays in the target audience. Intranets typically target users from a specific organization whereas extranets is the hub that can group users from multiple external organizations ranging from partners and suppliers all the way to clients


Discover the real difference between intranet and extranet

Different types of Intranet solutions from the early days up to the intranet 2.0 (commonly referred to as digital workplace solutions) bring a host of benefits to businesses of all sizes and industries. Below is a list of benefits often associated with intranets:

  1. Streamline internal communications
  2. Connect employees and eliminate silos
  3. Foster collaboration
  4. Improve knowledge sharing
  5. Recognize and reward employees

Find out teh benefits of intranet solutions

Here are three different strategies for a successful intranet adoption:

  1. User focus strategy
  2. Global community management strategy
  3. Private communities focus strategy

Which intranet adoption strategy should you choose?

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I am the Chief Executive Officer of eXo Platform (the open source digital workplace platform), a company that I co-founded while in college and that I came back to after several years in the banking and consulting industry. I blog about modern work, about open-source and sovereignty issues. Occasionally, I also blog about my personal areas of interest, such as personal development, work–life balance, sustainability and gender equality.
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