The right start for an intranet

It’s the public domain that intranet isn’t quite the sexiest field of communication and marketing. There’s no gold lion or other highly acclaimed advertising awards. There might be the odd competition, but you’d most likely never heard of it. You probably won’t hear kids in the schoolyard talk of how they want to become in charge of an intranet or the in-house magazine editor when they grow up.

We could just laugh at this and tell ourselves that it’s just the way it is, however you won’t hear those schoolkids rave on about how they want to become a General Manager or Head of Sales either. The difference is that internal communication is often the most important in an organization, and it goes all the way into the Boardroom and to the managers. Few companies have any idea about how much their internal communication should cost, let alone if there’s a budget for it. Most companies would, on the other hand, know their marketing budget like their backyard. An easy philosophy to adopt is one by Anna Almberg, who says that all companies should spend 25% of their communication budget on internal communication.

To a lot of companies, internal communication might feel like a burden. Something that has to be in place, but no one really cares too much about it. The problems of putting internal communication on the bottom of the priority-list are plentiful, first of all when it’s time to buy a platform, consultant or system to handle it. Most often you have no idea what you want or what it should cost. And how then, could you possibly know what’s actually good? So, let’s go through the start position before any purchase.

The following three headlines (and nothing else) are what you should focus on at this stage before even contacting any suppliers. Without any control of these areas you’ll most likely very quickly meet suppliers who’ll offer the “best solution” for you; but how could you even tell if you don’t know what the best solution is?

What are your needs? Have you done a needs analysis? If so, did you understand it’s findings? Is it possible to implement over time, or does everything have to be in place right from start? I’ll get back to you on the subject of needs analysis as it demands further explanation.

How much time do you have before the solution has to be launched in your organization? This is crucial knowledge. If the idea is to launch within the next quarter, it’ll have certain implications as to what kind of solution you’ll buy.

What’s your maximum budget for a new solution? If you don’t have a budget, how are you going to know what’s cost-efficient? How will you know if it’s a good investment?

On top of this, you have to figure out which one of these three areas is the most important for your company. Which one of these is your top priority when it comes to a new system or a platform for internal communication? These three mixes like oil and water: not very easy and not very tasty.

It doesn’t matter that much which supplier you talk to. They’ll all want to know this about your company. If you meet a supplier that doesn’t ask these questions, you should steer away from them right away. If you, on the other hand, do have these three areas under control, including their content and priority, you’ll be able to approach any supplier with confidence: you know what you want, you know when you want it, and at what cost. Of course, other issues that you hadn’t thought of might arise and your supplier might suggest stuff you didn’t even know existed (they’re often experts with a lot of experience in internal communications and digital workplaces). You should aim to find a supplier who’ll act as a partner, not just a supplier.

A partner cares about your company, both short and long term. They grow and develop with you. This is important as internal communication is directly linked to your success as an organization as well as what kind of relationship your employees have to their employer.