Do We Still Need Intranet Teams?
New technology platforms are bringing intranets into the modern age, with sleek designs and increasingly sophisticated integration with other systems. Publishing tools are simpler for all involved, and much of the technical work has been stripped out.
Yet in spite of all this progress, widespread confusion remains around the role of intranet teams — including whether there needs to be a team at all! To answer this and many other questions, it’s worth going back to the fundamentals of intranet management.
Establishing Intranet Management and Governance
The starting point for talking about intranet teams is to position them in the context of wider intranet governance. Some years back, my firm, Step Two published the Intranet Operating Model, a comprehensive framework for both formal governance and day-to-day management of intranets:
To be successful, governance needs to be more than just policies and principles (the blue ‘guiding’ half of the Intranet Operating Model). It also needs to cover the operational management and support of the intranet (the green ‘doing’ half above).
With this model in hand, we’ve worked with many organizations to establish practical intranet governance. This includes defining clear roles and responsibilities for the intranet team.
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Intranet Team Responsibilities
When working with clients, our starting point is a best-practice list of responsibilities for the intranet team, which includes:
- Conduct day-to-day management of the intranet.
- Conduct ongoing improvements and fixes.
- Manage the overall intranet user experience (including site structure and navigation).
- Own and manage key areas of the site (such as the intranet homepage).
- Provide business ownership of key technologies, including the intranet platform and search.
- Receive user feedback and forward it to the relevant content or system owner where appropriate.
- Monitor the usage and health of the intranet.
- Provide training and support to content owners and creators.
- Foster the intranet community and play a leadership role in it.
- Foster relationships with business stakeholders and system owners.
- Develop intranet strategies, roadmap and plans.
What becomes clear from this list is that the intranet team conducts the day-to-day management of the intranet including making ongoing improvements and fixes. They also act as the center of excellence for the intranet, as well as using their intranet expertise to plan and deliver strategic projects.
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Where Does the Intranet Manager Fit in This?
Larger organizations, or more complex intranets, will need more than a "team of one" to manage the site. Alongside the hands-on members of the intranet team, there should be an overall manager, with the time and responsibility to manage.
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In terms of a position description, responsibilities (and skills) should include:
- Business awareness: What is going on in the organization, what is important, how the intranet can contribute to the organization’s overall goals.
- Strategy and scoping: The overall direction for the intranet, and the practical roadmap to achieve it.
- Budgeting: How the intranet, associated staff, training and operational costs are funded.
- Relationships: The relationships within the team, as well with business areas, IT, stakeholders, communications teams and general staff.
- Change management: Marketing the intranet to staff, communicating wins and initiatives and helping staff use the intranet effectively.
- Intranet trends and best practice: Keeping track of what’s happening in the marketplace.
- Technology: Understanding the organization’s technology offerings and being aware of the potential impact of any new technologies.
- Information management: How broader IM policies are met, and managing the relationship between the intranet and other systems.
- Team management: Allocating tasks to team members, and sustaining a strong team culture.
- Governance: Putting all this in place (and more!).
Alongside these clear management responsibilities, many intranet managers will also have a hand in the day-to-day delivery and upkeep of sites. This may include writing content, project management activities, technology responsibilities or UX work.
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Setting Expectations and Establishing Sustainable Practices
Every intranet team will have a specific set of responsibilities that’s shaped by the business environment they sit in. That being said, the lists above can be very useful when setting expectations and educating stakeholders about the role of intranet teams.
Regardless of the technology platform being used, or the approach to the wider digital workplace, there will always be a set of fundamental roles and activities needed to make the intranet a sustainable success.
Does there need to be an intranet team? Absolutely! Now focus the conversation on what the team should be doing to get the most out of intranet investments already made.
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About the Author
James Robertson is the originator of the global movement towards digital employee experience (DEX). Twenty years in this space, he’s one of the leading thinkers on intranets and digital workplaces. He’s the author of the books “Essential Intranets: Inspiring Sites that Deliver Business Value” and “Designing Intranets: Creating Sites that Work.”