Building a great intranet is not an easy task. There are many aspects to consider and a lot of expectations for an intranet these days. However daunting a task this may be, we have had excellent success building great intranets quickly by following a proven system and setting realistic expectations. Today's post will discuss some of these best practices and guide you toward your goal of a great intranet.
Like many other system implementations, the foundation of a successful intranet implementation is governance. Initially the governance team will help to make decisions related to the project during implementation. This team should consist of key players from different departments within the hospital. A typical portal governance team may consist of staff from the following departments, but this varies by organization: Marketing, Human Resources, Information Technology, Administration, Nursing, Medical Staff, and Facilities. Establish your team early in the process and you can add or remove members from different departments as needed along the way.
Here are some examples of things that will be discussed by the portal governance team:
- What are the goals for the intranet project?
- What are the different types of content and functionality we want on the site?
- What are the priorities for phase 1, phase 2, etc.?
- Who will own the content?
- What technology will we use for the intranet?
- What is our policy on intranet usage?
Of course there are many other items that may come up in the process of the implementation, the key is having this team in place to address them.
An employee communication system can mean different things to different people. Often the functionality of an intranet can be very broad in scope from basic communications to custom system integrations and workflows. Therefore, as part of the implementation process it is important to include departments and staff hospital-wide to gather requirements and requests for functionality. Once the “wish list” has been established your governance team will want to determine what functionality will be included as part of the intranet and what functionality may be better served via other systems.
After determining the initial scope of the system, it is recommended that you do a phased implementation. A phased implementation will allow you to implement manageable pieces of the project one at a time. This will ensure that you get the system up and running with core functionality in a realistic timeframe. Start with the highest priority items and any “killer apps” that will drive staff to utilize the system. Then you may continue to roll out additional features as part of later phases. In the end the intranet project is never truly complete as the system should continue to evolve with the needs of the organization.
Another key aspect of your success will be to choose the right technology platform. It’s safe to say that choosing to build an internal content management system from scratch is pretty much out of the question. With the limited resources available in most IT departments, having a resource to dedicate the time required to implement and maintain a successful intranet just doesn’t make sense. That being the case, you will need to select a system that allows you to accomplish the items discussed previously.
With the help of your portal governance team, establish your system requirements before looking at any solutions. Your requirements will be the basis for your evaluation. Make sure to get your IT department involved so they can evaluate the system from a technical perspective as well. There are quite a few options for intranet solutions so here are a few key things to consider from a hospital or healthcare organization perspective:
- Does the system offer any healthcare specific functionality?
- Does the vendor have experience with the unique needs of hospitals and healthcare?
- What type of training, implementation, and ongoing support services does the vendor provide along with the product?
- What are other hospitals using for their intranets and what do they have to say about the solutions?
You will be investing time and resources in the project and chances are you will be using the product for a long time so be thorough in your product evaluation and selection.
The intranet is NOT an IT system. This may be contrary to what you might think. Employee communication, content sharing, and collaboration are not the sole responsibility of IT but in fact a shared effort by the entire organization. IT should administer and maintain the system, but successful intranets are based on the concept of decentralized content management. Decentralized content management is the ability for staff from different departments to publish and maintain their own content on the system. This is an absolutely critical aspect to your success.
Traditionally the IT department was responsible for maintaining the intranet content due to the need for technical expertise. This led to stale intranet content, overburdened IT resources, and dissatisfied employees. Decentralized content management addresses these issues by giving end users the tools needed to publish content themselves with little or no IT involvement.
This does not mean that everyone should be editing content on the portal. Our experience shows that successful content management can be accomplished by identifying and training a few key staff from each department that will be using the system to publish content. These staff will be expected to take ownership of the content as well as adhere to the standards and policies put in place by the governance team.
The last thing you will need to be successful is a timeline. Establish realistic dates for project milestones and stick to them. Project management is a big part of the success of this and any project so be sure to select a strong project manager and have buy in from leadership. The 30 days mentioned in the title of this post may sound aggressive for getting your intranet up and running but with the correct foundation in place this can and has happened for many of our customers.
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