WHITE PAPER. Creating your Intranet Checklist

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1 WHITE PAPER Creating your Intranet Checklist

2 About this guide It can be overwhelming to run and manage an Intranet project. As a provider of Intranet software and services to small, medium and large organizations, we ve assisted many people just like you in determining the real business need for an Intranet, and then supporting you in delivering a successful Intranet project. This guide aims to provide an understanding of what you should be looking for in a modern Intranet. By no means is it a complete end-to-end checklist, but if you re new to sourcing an Intranet for your organization or have been tasked with finding a replacement product, then this checklist serves to position you well in comparing solutions and what you should be looking for when undertaking your evaluation. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 1

3 Table of Contents About this guide... 1 Determining your business needs... 2 What is the business pain?... 4 No unified voice... 4 Duplication of process & procedure... 4 Fragmentation of business applications is troublesome... 5 A network drive is inefficient... 5 What else can be achieved using the intranet?... 6 Common Intranet functions... 8 Security management... 9 User management... 9 Active directory integration... 9 Single sign on (SSO)... 9 Content management Web content Documents Media Metadata management Forms Workflow management Search Undertaking product evaluations & engaging a vendor The runsheet The product demonstrations The shortlist The second and final demo The engagement CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 2

4 CHAPTER 1 Determining your business needs CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 3

5 The most important step in developing an Intranet checklist is to first understand what are the key business needs you and the organization are looking to solve. We ve summed this up as: What is the business pain? What else can we leverage from the Intranet? What is the Business Pain? Implementing an Intranet won t solve all of your business problems. In order to understand the value proposition of an Intranet, you first need to determine what is the pain you re hoping an Intranet will solve. Following are common points of business pain for organizations, both small, medium and large. No unified voice Typically as organizations grow in size, or become teams that are separated over geography and even time zones, the ability for the organization to operate as a fully informed entity where every employee is on the same page as the CEO, becomes increasingly difficult. Not everything happening inside an organization warrants an from one person to another, or to many. In its most basic form, an Intranet operates like a discussion at the water cooler. In its more complex form, an Intranet harnesses ideas from the ground up allowing the executive team to improve decision making from the top down. A good Intranet allows anyone to understand what the beat of the organization is. Duplication of process & procedure Another challenge for any busy organization is the scaling of process and procedure. Without a central trusted source of truth like an Intranet, staff will usually the tools to others to get work done. This commonly results in the duplication of process and procedure. Business efficiency is quickly lost when staffs rely on the wrong tools to get work done. If an Intranet provides the correct and most up to date tools to achieve different work types across the organization, then a reduction in duplication and lost effort will be realized. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 4

6 Fragmentation of business applications As organizations expand, the need for solutions to fill more gaps in the operation occurs. Typically these requirements use to be, and largely still are, managed and provided by the IT department. However the trend is that more and more non-it departments are sourcing technology to solve operational problems. Thanks to SaaS (Software as a Service) applications being very easy to sign up and start using, staff representing HR, Marketing, Corporate Affairs and PR are now onboarding business applications to get things done. This causes application fragmentation. Departments aren t aware what each other might be using. As more organizations continue to use external applications to facilitate a need, an Intranet can solve this fragmentation by allowing the entire organization to see what other applications are being used. It can also handle the authentication to these various business applications, allowing staff to first authenticate with the Intranet and then be automatically logged into these other applications (depending on the user permissions). is troublesome The most prolific communication tool in any organization is . It s also a big problem. We all use and have watched it evolve into a communication protocol that can handle just about anything. But it s broken. Like a link in a chain, when people leave an organization, the communication chain they have created or participated in becomes broken. is the root cause of duplication. You and I can exchange the wrong documents, and either one of us can send it onto one hundred other people with the wrong action item. We can immediately cause confusion, complication, and frustration. When managed properly, an Intranet can reduce the reliance on and remove the fragmentation and inefficiency of communicating to multiple parties. A network drive is inefficient Most organizations have network drives in all corners of the network. Some are used frequently; others haven t been touched in years. In most cases there is no ability to search and understand the context of the content stored in these locations. An Intranet changes all of this. Typically a new Intranet considers the migration of some or all of this content from network drives to the Intranet platform. Once stored in the Intranet, security, metadata and search are powerful layers that can be applied and provide context to the silos of operational information that are stored within any organization. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 5

7 What else can be achieved using the Intranet? An Intranet should deliver multiple benefits. Whilst the basic principle of an Intranet is to communicate information to various audiences, a modern Intranet can be used to automate data, security and workflow tasks that greatly improve how work gets done. Consider approaching your Intranet checklist with the idea of what other business processes can the Intranet be employed to manage. This could be any one of the following: Authentication Portal The Intranet is the go to environment to securely access other business applications currently running within the organization. Instead of signing into each of these applications, authenticating with the Intranet will then determine which users have access to these other applications Business Processes Forms Turn those current paper based forms into online Intranet based forms that can capture and route information electronically to a various audiences Workflows Add workflow to form processes and command the routing of this information based on business rules, time of day, type of information, etc. Analytics Create reports on form and workflow activities occurring across the Intranet in real-time Build Executive Reporting Dashboards that enable management to view how a variety of business processes are occurring across the organization in real-time Micro Web Applications Exposing 3rd party data Connecting to and exposing data from other applications within the Intranet, and applying forms and workflow that are provided by the Intranet platform, enable organizations to create simple CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 6

8 yet highly valuable micro applications inside the Intranet. Some of these could include HR Job Boards, Asset Registers, pairing Customer Invoicing with Customer Contract documents stored within the Intranet, and much more Capturing data Using Intranet Forms enables the ability to capture and manipulate custom data, and then write this data into existing applications within the organization Social Collaboration Some Intranet platforms provide comprehensive social networking tools that support user engagement, community building and tools that enable staff to setup groups, conduct open discussions and create a voice on a range of topics CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 7

9 CHAPTER 2 Common Intranet functions CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 8

10 To assist you with creating your own Intranet checklist, the following are high-level functions that any modern Intranet should provide. Security Management Managing users within the Intranet is fundamental in defining which staff members can access what content within the new Intranet site. User Management Organizations require people, and a good Intranet supports the management of people. Managing user accounts and profiles is perhaps the most fundamental component of any Intranet platform. Some platforms do the minimum, while others have taken User Management to a whole new level. At the very least, the Intranet should enable you to define what users can view and author within the product. At the more sophisticated end, some Intranet platforms provide a LinkedIn-style profile management environment enabling users to manage their personal profiles; skills, experience, education, projects they ve successfully delivered and more. Good User Management also drives services like Staff Directories, Organizational Charts, Expertise Directories and more. Active Directory Integration Long before establishing user profiles, managing the authentication of staff with the Intranet is required. Typically this authentication is provided using a service like Microsoft Active Directory. Staff profiles are first created in Active Directory enabling staff to authenticate with various applications across the enterprise, including the Intranet. Any modern Intranet platform will support Active Directory Integration as standard. Single Sign On (SSO) Taken the concept of authentication one step further, and many organizations are treating the Intranet as the portal to other applications across the enterprise. As such, once a staff member has authenticated with the Intranet, they can then freely navigate to other enterprise applications through the Intranet. Achieving this seamless navigation is possible through SSO, or Single Sign On. Any serious Intranet platform will provide its own SAML 2.0 compliant SSO agent. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 9

11 Content Management All Intranets manage content. Whether its web content in the form of Intranet web pages (HTML), documents or media. Web Content A modern Intranet is capable of managing different content types, and web content is perhaps the most common type of all. Most Intranet authors will design and publish web content directly within their web browsers. The content authoring tools within the Intranet platform will determine how sophisticated authors can be; the most simple Intranet will only allow simple text entry with some basic formatting like bold, italicizing and underline, while more comprehensive text editors will support inline styling, rich media embedding and spell checking support. Documents Managing document content can be simply displaying a document, through to highly sophisticated document management that supports the full document lifecycle of check-in, check-out, rollback, restore and more. In some cases your organization may already have in place a dedicated Document Management System, however modern Intranets provide very good environments for managing the full document management lifecycle. The benefits of considering document management within the Intranet is that it closes the gap on common work flows that occur within any organization; allowing documents and Intranet processes to share direct context. Media Some Intranet platforms will simply display a listing of media objects, while others will provide methods for utilizing media intelligently within an Intranet in the form of embedded video players, image galleries and more. In an age where staff can capture 1080p video using their smart phone, a modern Intranet can be expected to support the publishing of multiple video formats. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 10

12 Metadata Management Metadata is data about data. In social media, we all know it better as tagging. These are #example #tags. Metadata is how content, primarily web content and documents, are tagged within an Intranet. Imagine your organization has 100 staff and each staff member publishes on average 10 documents a week, and lets propose that half of these documents are checked into the Intranet where they are version controlled and where appropriate security is applied. Within a year, that s approximately 25,000 documents being published to the Intranet. Without metadata how do you categorize, filter, search and discover this content? You will need to define a metadata taxonomy. This is a hierarchy of how you will tag web content and documents within the Intranet. A typical taxonomy might look like the following: Finance Orders Draft Release Sent Invoices Reports Marketing Local National International Branding Digital Print HR CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 11

13 Applications January February March Onboarding Reviews Reports The best way to view a metadata taxonomy is to consider it to be no different to a traditional folder hierarchy. Forms Perhaps one of the most powerful features of any modern Intranet is the ability for non-technical authors to design, create, publish and manage forms on the Intranet. Most organizations are littered with paper-based processes where Intranet forms provide one of the greatest opportunities to replace these inefficiencies and step towards a paperless environment. Coupled with Workflow Management, organizations can start to consider the Intranet as a platform for automating true business processes. Workflow Management Most organizations deal with workflows of all shapes and sizes. If you certain documents to particular team members at certain times of the week or month, that s a workflow. If you aggregate information from various parties into a single document for distribution, that s another work flow. Using the Intranet to automate these tasks is considered as Workflow Management. Intranet platforms vary in their workflow capabilities; some offer simple triggers to influence areas of the Intranet when something occurs, while other Intranet platforms allow authors to design and establish very complex multi-step/multi-conditional workflows that effect multiple people and processes. It s important to establish if your organization is ready for change that can come with workflow automation. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 12

14 Search As Intranet s grow in content over time, the ability to provide relevancy when staff search for content is critical to the Intranet remaining purposeful and effective. Some Intranet platforms rely on 3rd party search solutions, while others provide their own integrated search. The search experience varies from Intranet solution to the next; the most simple experience is returning a list of results for the keyword or phrase entered, while others will provide weightings, highlighting of searched terms and the ability to search within search results. As most Intranets manage both structured and unstructured content, search should also be indexing within document and form data. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 13

15 CHAPTER 3 Undertaking product evaluations & engaging a vendor CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 14

16 It s highly likely you ll be reviewing multiple products as part of your evaluation process. Consider the process of buying a new car. You want to understand the price; the performance, what other customers think and most importantly, you want to take each car for a test drive. In the same way if you don t undertake a product demonstration and evaluation, then how can you possibly make the right product decision? We have seen this happen before. A potential customer chooses a product without undertaking an evaluation, only to return to the market within a short period if time to undertake the entire process again. Ouch. The Run sheet You need to be able to compare apples with apples. All products are different, but they all have their own unique way of achieving the same outcome. The best approach is to define what are the key features that are most important to your organization, and then create a run sheet around these features. You will then circulate this run sheet to all of vendors you have invited and ask them to prepare their product demonstration based on the supplied run sheet. We have developed a run sheet that you can download and modify to suit your own purposes. This run sheet can be downloaded from our website: The Product Demonstrations It s important to see every product that you have invited to respond. You may have preconceived ideas about what an Intranet solution is, or should be, but you will benefit the most from seeing all products. Assuming you ve circulated the run sheet to all vendors, ask them to prepare a minute demonstration of their product based on the run sheet. Be ready to take score as each vendor presents their software according to your run sheet. Ask lots of questions and take notes. This process will highlight how knowledgeable each vendor is about the product they are offering, and will give you good insight into how comfortable you feel in potentially working with them on the actual project. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 15

17 The Shortlist Following the product demonstrations, you will be able to confidently create your shortlist. You should know who is the preferred vendor and who are the challenging vendors. Typically a shortlist is no more than 2 or 3 vendors. In the interests of keeping momentum in the sales process, you should inform the shortlisted vendors that they have been shortlisted and ask them to provide a second and final demonstration. In the interests of keeping momentum in the sales process, you should ensure the second and final demonstration occurs within two weeks of the first demo. The Second and Final Demo For the final demonstration ask the vendor to prepare the demonstration based on their preference. This will allow you to see other aspects of each product that may not have been exposed through your run sheet. You should allocate up to minutes for this final demonstration with each vendor, and be prepared to challenge him or her on what they demonstrate and how that is of value to your business needs. You should allocate the last half hour to discussing their proposal and the commercial terms of an engagement with them. The Engagement You will know by now what is the preferred product. Do your background checks on the vendor and talk with others who are using the product. Once you re comfortable, set up a time to discuss the vendor s offering in further detail. The vendor will likely know they are the preferred vendor, so be open about what you re expectations are for the project. It s a great feeling for the vendor to be told they are the preferred solution, so if you have endorsement from your executive team, tell the vendor they ve been successful as soon as possible. Good luck with your Intranet project. CentricMinds White Paper: Creating your Intranet Checklist 16

18 ENTERPRISE DIGITAL MANAGEMENT centricminds.com

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