Microsoft SharePoint offers an array of tools to create fantastic intranet sites for your organisation. Moving your intranet to SharePoint Online in Microsoft 365 might take a while, particularly if you already have extensive intranet content. We look at how to get ready for your SharePoint intranet and making sure you see a return on your investment.
What’s possible with SharePoint?
With SharePoint, any user can create highly functional intranet pages quickly without the need for writing code. These sites look great on any device or screen and provide deeply engaging experiences for your users. If you’re currently using a legacy version of SharePoint for your intranet, you’ll find SharePoint Online to be much easier to work with. Responsive, dynamic pages are easy for anyone to create, and the requirements for IT to build and maintain custom solutions are much less.
As a first step, to see examples of what’s possible with SharePoint, we recommend that you review the SharePoint look book. The look book provides a variety of examples about how to include news, events, resources, and personalized content in SharePoint sites that anyone can create and maintain. For an understanding about how the different parts work together, Microsoft also provide a Guide to the Modern experience in SharePoint which can help in your understanding.
Understand current business goals and key stakeholders
The most successful intranets don’t just look good, they are primarily focused on helping people get work done and often on promoting engagement. The look book can help inspire you to think about how your content might appear, but your business outcome goals are important to understand what content and functionality are most important for your users and your organisation.
All organisations have important strategic goals that drive behaviour and investments. If you want to be sure that your intranet is successful – and gets the right level of funding – you need to ensure that it is aligned with these goals. You can also use these goals to help prioritise your intranet initiatives. You want to focus on the intranet initiatives that are most closely aligned with your organisational priorities and key business stakeholders.
We also find that carrying out an internal survey is a great way to identify pain points or things that are working well.
Understand your audience
A good place to start thinking about your new intranet is what it will be like when the intranet is in place.
It can also be helpful to create personas for your key users. A persona is a fictional but realistic description of a typical intranet user (for example, new starter/new employee, knowledge worker, field worker, sales rep, people manager, or content author). You’ll want to do some research to engage with people who represent these different personas to understand their information requirements. You can’t build an intranet without an understanding of the people you’re building it for. Site owners alone are not enough – their perspective is what they want to publish. That is often not the same thing as what their users want to consume.
Think about governance
If this is too much irrelevant content within your intranet, this can indicate a governance problem. Before you think about your new intranet project, think about how you will govern the architecture and the content. These are decisions that are a lot easier to make and enforce if they are decided early in your intranet project. For example, you will want to think about:
- Who can provision new sites and when they are provisioned, what is the process to ensure that sites are discovered in navigation or as key bookmarks in search?
- Do you want all sites to follow a similar pattern so that users can easily find key content as they move from site to site?
- Who is accountable and responsible for the content on sites? How often does content need to be reviewed?
- Is content management for intranet sites in the performance goals or job descriptions for people with edit or owner permissions?
- Does intranet content need to be retained based on your retention policies or classified based on its sensitivity?
You do not need to make every governance decision up front, but if you don’t have a plan for how you will govern your new, intelligent intranet, it can quickly become difficult to find information you need to achieve your business goals.
These are just some of the top tips we believe are key to get you on your way to a successful intranet within your organisation. If you’d like to find out more about a SharePoint intranet for your organisation, get in touch with our team or download our SharePoint guide below.