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Intranet Solutions for Small and Medium Businesses

Aug 13, 2008
With the explosion of new technology and IT products in the marketplace, what used to be an expensive venture (customized intranet solution) has now become a very affordable product. There are several companies that will provide you a hosted service that gives you an intranet software solution. By renting the software, you are in effect, gaining the use of the software that resides on the company server that you are renting from.

They take care of all the backend stuff, things you would normally need an IT geek to do for you. Its safe, effective, and downright powerful stuff. And the pricing is affordable for even a one person operation. Best of all,you can find plenty of books at amazon or ebay on this technology so there is no excuse in procrastinating.

Obviously you need to shop around and determine what is best for your needs and how much you can afford, but for a small company with 1 to 50 users,you can find an intranet solution for under $50 month. In the big scheme of things, that less than the cost of a few magazine ads or a few weeks in a local ad. And the great thing about these rentable sites is you can have a site up and running in days or hours as opposed to months waiting for a customize site being built.

If you are convinced that an intranet is an affordable proposition, here is what you need to do to successfully create this capability. From everything I have studied and read about knowledge management and managing communities of practice sites, which is what an Intranet is, organizations that implement the capability based on a strategic plan seem to have the best success in changing the corporate culture and getting employee buy-in. So with that in mind, here is what I propose to your leadership team:

A. Build a strategic plan for intranet utilization with eight major parts:

1. Define the company business objectives for an Intranet
2. Select and prioritize functions to rollout over time.
3. Develop a metrics program (beyond just usage rate) that might include things like:
- Surveying users, real life stories, how the Intranet is adding value to the company, usage rate improvements, improving efficiency, etc.
4. Governance- an company leadership group should periodically meet to discuss the program and provide oversight and leadership to the users
- A leadership team should provide:
-- Vision (example: Intranet is the primary means of communication and data storage for Company XYZ)
-- Guiding Principles
-- Policies
-- Procedures
-- Roles and Responsibilities (sites must be managed)
- Suggestions for governance board makeup:
-- VP-HR, CFO, VP-Ops, IT rep. Business Owner, Project lead rep, etc
-- There should be an executive sponsor (recommend VP-Ops)
-- Business Owner is defined as the person managing the overall design and site functions.
5. Content Management- Determine steps to keep the sites current and not stale to encourage employee usage and viewing.
6. Rollout: (once it is rolled out, start communicating to employees about it):
- Communications- newsletters, town hall meeting, CEO memo, etc
- Training (providing train the trainer classes)
- Launch and content conversion (moving from the company shared drive to exclusively using the intranet site, or whatever percentage usage you want to use)
7. User support. Clear articulation of who provides support from the IT department and the business owner.
8. Incentive and Rewards- content management becomes part of an individual performance goal and is managed by supervisors through the performance appraisal system.

You owe to your business to protect against disaster, improve communications and efficiences with your content management and intellectual capital. Intranets are here to stay! Find out why!
About the Author
Kevin Bushey is a management consultant in Northern Virginia specializing in strategic planning and leveraging web portal technologies to enhance small and medium businesses. Claim a FREE chapter of my Intranet Strategy book at http://www.masteranintranetstrategy.com/ts1/index.html
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