In 2012, as director of internal communications for the software company Taleo, I was assigned to develop a SharePoint 2010 intranet in less than two months. I had no full-time staff and a limited budget but lots of hard-working employee volunteers we called the GrassRoots team.
Here are the five “absolutes” I learned:
1. Collaboration is everything. Ask for help, and be appreciative. I had an amazing rapport with my colleagues from IT, and we were a dynamite team. I could never have met my goals without them, or without the help of power users, GrassRoots members, and our SharePoint vendor.
2. You must have the support of your senior management and be allowed to be autonomous. Committees would have slowed us down and made decision-making highly difficult. We did not have time to present options or debate right or wrong—we had to move forward. We knew we could always make changes later. Indeed, the intranet must constantly evolve.
3. You need to brand your site and make it visually appealing as well as intuitive. A good intranet can change culture, reward achievement, increase productivity, and—to quote Bill Quirke—”turn strategy into action by engaging, informing, and directing employees,” but only if they read it…often.
4. Don’t underestimate training for your content owners. If you have the budget, customize it and record it. This was a time-consuming part of my job that I would have loved to outsource.
5. A grand opening or launch promotion is essential if you want to have high readership of your intranet. We held an online scavenger hunt with prizes, delivered customized thank-you gifts, created certificates for all volunteers, hung banners and posters in advance of the launch, and more. I presented at various All Hands meetings, met one on one with interested groups, and created a blog. No one in the company was unaware that we had a wonderful new intranet, and it became the most important vehicle for internal communications by far.
Mimi Garrity Denman manages Denman Communications. A version of this article first appeared on Denman Communications.