Intranet: Ready, Set, Launch!

You’ve done your homework — studied users to death, created tons of content, and made sure everything works. And now, it’s time to actually open the doors of your company intranet. Hello, it’s launch time!

Before you get a panic attack, sit down and review some of your goals for launching the intranet. I’m guessing you want to accomplish at least these three things:

  • make staff aware that the company now has an intranet (or a new, improved one)
  • motivate employees to actually use the intranet
  • gather intelligence about how to improve the intranet

Now that we’re clear on what we want to accomplish, let’s take a look at what many companies have done to achieve similar goals:

What’s the Buzz, Tell Me What’s A-happenin’?

Before the actual launch day, create buzz and excitement around the intranet. This is where we can learn a lot from the way Apple promotes its products. Weeks, sometimes months before it actually comes out, you have tech journalists, bloggers, geeks and half the world already talking about it.

In your workplace, there are many things you can do to generate interest about your intranet:

  • your user research and beta testing can generate buzz
  • give regular status updates at meetings
  • organize a photo day when all employees will have their intranet pictures taken by a professional
  • have a countdown to launch day

Or make it completely mysterious. Have a countdown for “something big” happening on launch day, but don’t tell them what it is.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!

Treat the intranet like a commercial product and market it to the users. Look at your organization’s culture to decide on the best mix of media and approaches. The most common ones are:

  • posters
  • brochures
  • merchandise branded with the intranet’s URL
  • launch video
  • emails
  • contests

Contest are particularly big in intranet launches. The most common contest is the one for naming the intranet. This is an excellent way to create buzz and start engaging users with the intranet. If they name it, it’s theirs. They have ownership of it. It’s not something forced on them, but they are part creators of it.

Another common contest is the scavenger hunt, but this comes after the launch. Have users find various items on the intranet. Give prizes away. Some companies have given away vacations and such.

Whichever media you choose, always emphasize how the intranet will benefit employees.

The Launch Event

Set aside time for an intranet launch event. This may take the form of a launch party, during which time all staff are excused from their desks. Aside from serving cake and drinks, set up a live demo of the intranet.

Another thing to consider doing is getting management to declare one hour of a day wherein all staff drop their work and complete their intranet user profiles. If they had their photos taken professionally, they’ll look forward to this.

Give out starter kits, with fun items (see merchandise above) but also quick-start guides, tips for authors, and other useful materials.

Get Feedback

Every step of the way, be open to users’ feedback. Set up a help desk or support ticket system to manage users’ questions and concerns. Put up suggestion boxes, both physical and virtual, to get employees’ inputs. Designate one person per department to act as your ears, reporting back to you whatever they hear are being said about the intranet.

As you do this, be open to both negative and positive feedback. Never act defensive towards criticisms. Make it clear you want to help create the best, most effective intranet for the organization.

Post-Launch Launches

Even if you have one big launch event, keep user interest high by planning smaller promos. It’s common for users to be excited about the intranet at first, and then lose interest as the novelty wears out. Have smaller-scale promos when you introduce new intranet features. Create and promote new intranet content. Keep staff engaged.

Has this post been helpful to you in planning your intranet launch?

If you’ve launched an intranet before, how did you do it? What mistakes did you make? What did you do right?

Share your experiences and help your fellow Intranet Managers.

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