Implementing a new software solution is a big deal. The question that people always forget to ask themselves before they start is strangely a pretty obvious one: Do I even need this thing, or nah? In this post, we give you an easy and foolproof way to answer this question.
It's easy to be led into trends. We all end up doing it at one point or another. Take all the guys who got mullets in the 80's, it sounded like a good idea at the time, not so much afterwards. That's not a very costly mistake (depending how you see it), but they can get pretty bad in the workplace. Here at Igloo, we are obviously at the forefront of the age of social collaboration, we hype it even. We think it's the next step to making companies more efficient and productive. That's why we built a platform to facilitate that behavior. However, we realize that implementing things like an intranet can be costly, especially if they don't get used to their full potential.
We've explained in the past how ROI is difficult to calculate for a collaboration solution, and in turn calls for special measures to understand its impact and to ensure successful adoption. Another thing you'll want to do, is to figure out if you actually need a platform for collaboration in the first place. With all organizations, you'll want to take a good look at the way the employees around you work. Sure you're coordinating this project, but you don't own it. If the model you choose doesn't fit with the way people work, they just won't use it. Would you change your way of working for reasons that you don't fully understand because of "long-term goals"? No? I rest my case. Maybe your company runs fine on just email and Post-Its. There's nothing wrong with that.
Get on it.
The best way to figure out the workflow of your company is yet another low tech method, most closely associated with a high-tech process: the user story. What does that mean? It means you have to go talk to people. Start thinking who would be the power users of your hypothetical intranet. Who would be in charge of managing it? Who would represent a typical user, someone who uses it day in and day out, but lightly overall? Make as many categories as you need, and then book 15 min meetings with these people. Prepare a few questions related to the project, but also leave time for them to just talk about what they would like to see. Take notes, obviously.
Now comes the important part, analyzing this data. You want to find a framework that works for you, and break down every interview into it. I've included a version that is fairly general, inspired by our own agile methodologies, but it gives a good example of what it should look like. It describes the type of user, what they want to achieve and why, distilled down to one sentence. It should be quick to scan and retain, and it should be written from the perspective of the user. Again, the outcome might be that people don't have any particular pain points, and a solution isn't needed. However, if you are in any sort of process at all, it's probably because there are problems.
Do the thing.
This whole process is useless if you don't act on it. This sheet isn't something you shelve. It's the baseline for the whole project. Bring it to meetings, use it as data, as proof of what you are saying. Your superiors won't be able to disprove words that are coming right out of their workers’ mouths. It will be a very valuable tool during your journey, from building the business case to setting the requirements. Remember to be humble about the whole process, collaboration platforms are always about the greater good. Oh and if you do end up needing an intranet, give us a shout, we're pretty awesome. ;)