Strategic Approaches for Today’s Intranet

Considerations for your Intranet Strategy

Many things are important to consider when building your Intranet strategy.  A few of the primary drivers include the size and makeup of the project team, and the general approach you’ll take to develop the Intranet.  These two decisions will drive much of the strategy.

Intranet Project Teams

According to the Nielsen Norman Group’s 2018 Intranet Design Annual, the average Core Intranet team is 14-people (in-house) and taps into 2 outside agencies or consultant groups for support. According to their formula for team size relative to staff size, regardless of organization size, there is a minimum of 10 headcount committed to delivering a first-class intranet experience.

Minimum Team Size
regardless of organization size

This is a huge commitment that an organization has to make to get a great intranet. I’m sure these statistics accurately reflect the award-winning intranets the Nielsen Norman Group studies, but I’m unable to view this without bias. Based on my discussions with peers, and my own experience, I just don’t see this as real-world or achievable.

Amy Pohler says what? animation

Most businesses, especially those in the mid-market of a thousand people or less, are not able or willing to commit this level of resources to their intranet.

So how can the rest of us produce a knock-out intranet without having to commit this level of overhead?

The Nielsen Norman Group

The Nielsen Norman Group ( is a very well respected organization that focuses on all things UX Research. They conduct regular studies and produce great reports and articles about Intranets. Their annual design review recognizes the best Intranets of the year. Their published information is the only consistent visibility the industry has into successful Intranets.

Approach Options

Most organizations need help simplifying the new Intranet maze. You know what an intranet does, you know what it can do for your business, you just need a kick-start so you can move forward quickly.

Let’s take a look at the support that most organizations consider.


Added technology and financial layers

Intranet in-a-box solutions are expected to be bullet-proof and they do a good job of attaining that. To achieve this, they tend to lag quite a bit behind the current release of SharePoint. While some are quicker to adopt new functionality than others, in general it seems like they are taking about a year to take advantage of emerging features.

These solutions insert a layer between you and SharePoint, including another layer of financial commitment and another layer of technology to learn and manage. These factors inhibit some organizations from exploring this approach.


Funding can be a challenge

Consultants are an attractive option to help fill-in the gaps, but given the length of time these projects take, and the financial constraints in business today, funding isn’t always available at the level required. As a result, consultant support through the full scope of these projects may not be an option.

An additional challenge for small- and mid-market businesses is access to A-team consultant resources that have the deep understanding and experience implementing the new SharePoint framework and approaches. Just like our internal teams, many consultant teams are challenged with adopting the new way of thinking about SharePoint, and challenged with keeping up with the pace of change.


Staff experience gaps matter

There’s a lot of DIY solutions as well. Many of us have developed the skills to build it on our own, but we often have gaps.

DIY teams often don’t have the right skill make-up for a successful outcome. They tend to be staffed by a strong tech team without the strategic support needed. Teams that have the strategy covered, are often challenged with connecting the vision to the technology, and the deeper technical skills. This is particularly true for mid-sized businesses as they require a less specialized, generalist focus to support the business. They just don’t have the technical headcount required for specialty focus.


Having a Strategy is Critical

It’s mandatory for any business over the size of around 50-people to have an Intranet. It isn’t a choice, it is just a standard business reality. In the modern business world it is like providing pens and paper to your staff.

photo of office supplies

Decision-makers do not have the time to read hundreds of pages or attend week-long courses. Internal team members are too busy running the business…which creates a dilemma: How can you get up-to-speed to make good decisions and ensure your critical technology is positioned for the undefined future.

rushed business person looking at their watch

It takes a long time, and a full-time commitment to understand the vision Microsoft has for SharePoint, Office 365 and Intranets. SharePoint is a technology that has undergone a complete transformation and that progress is going to continue.

lightbulb on a blackboard representing future vision

All of the industry’s attention is on the sizzle of the incredible new functionality that has been introduced, such as Teams, Hub Sites, and Spaces.

artist figure struggling with stones

Unfortunately, the basics haven’t been part of the conversation. Many of us have the technology, we’re struggling with the foundation elements, distracted by the advanced functionality, and sent into cycles of analysis paralysis.

Straighten the Maze is working to simplify intranets by building standards for the CORE things we all do. We’re focused on the common foundational items that are complicated, easy to get wrong, and that every business creates from scratch.

By delivering prescriptive standards to modernize and simplify this process, we’re helping get the basics out of your hair so you can move on the truly unique things your business needs.

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