Building a Global Intranet
Developing the Vision for a Global Intranet
Every digital project starts with an ambitious vision. When it comes to creating a global intranet, the vision and the solution can be worlds apart. The first step is to understand the needs of all stakeholders. The technology stakeholders likely want a lower-cost solution that is easier to manage, while the marketing team wants to improve communication across business units. The vision must be clear so that the intranet solution can effectively serve the entire organization.
When one of the world’s largest retail brands approached OPIN to develop an intranet solution to connect over 100 000 employees, there were many stakeholders involved. The IT team was managing 8 disparate intranets, using different technologies and serving separate business units. Their vision involved the consolidation of all intranets into one easily managed intranet with robust cloud hosting to back it up. Meanwhile, the marketing and communications team had an extensive list of feature requirements that would enable franchisees and employees to share knowledge, develop best practices and celebrate achievements.
The vision was ambitious, but it was clear. For each aspect of the desired solution, there was an associated business outcome. Some areas involved cost reduction, others content creation and communication, while many facets of the intranet looked to increase revenues for the organization. A complete vision involves measurable goals so that each business unit can ensure their needs are met. With the vision in place, the next step is to select the right technology for the job.
Choosing the Right Intranet Technology
The options when developing a global intranet are truly limitless. Whether building from scratch or selecting an out-of-the-box solution, researching and selecting the right technology can be daunting. Luckily, your complete vision is tied to measurable business outcomes. These same business outcomes will dictate your technology of choice.
The best way to begin is to look at your core objectives. Are you looking for a cost-effective solution? We might be biased, but open source is the least expensive alternative. Your organization will use the intranet for many years, and avoiding heavy license costs is the ideal way to save money. Another key requirement might be the flexibility to customize the intranet to suit your particular business needs or integration with other technologies that your organization uses. We like to boast that the open source Drupal CMS is the best technology for these purposes as well.
A frequently overlooked aspect of global intranets is the hosting solution. The finished product will connect thousands of employees across continents, time zones, and languages. These same employees will rely on the intranet for all of their business operations, so how can you ensure that the solution is fast, reliable and secure? When we were developing the largest Drupal intranet in the world, we needed to find the right hosting partner for the job. Acquia was the obvious choice, not only as a Drupal hosting solution but also for its best-in-class security, scalability, and reliability.
Finding Global Intranet Expertise
Regardless of headcount, most global enterprises don’t have the resources in-house to develop and maintain an intranet solution of this calibre. The logical choice is to work with an agency to bring your envisioned project to fruition. How can you ensure that your agency of choice understands the vision and the associated business outcomes you want to achieve? In this case, you need to look for a partner that has not only the expertise to complete the project, but the correct project delivery method to ensure it actually meets your needs.
In traditional project management methodologies, an agency would collect requirements from the client, build the solution and return in several weeks or months with a finished product. Doesn’t it seem unlikely that this method would deliver your desired outcomes? First, a lack of collaboration means that the client lacks insight into what is actually being created. Second, requirements change. As a project is being developed, both the client and agency can discover incomplete requirements or new ideas to be implemented. Traditional project management doesn’t account for this.
Enter the Agile project management methodology. This software development method uses an iterative approach, meaning that your partner of choice will deliver a complete piece of your solution after each phase, or sprint, in the development cycle. This means that you get to see what the project looks like, every step of the way. Global intranet projects are not completed overnight, so it’s crucial that your stakeholders are engaged at every stage to ensure that the solution actually meets your needs.
A global enterprise intranet project is no easy task, but taking the right steps will bring you the solution that your business needs.