The New Age of Intranets is already here. We're finally at the inflection point — the point at which we can see real value from the ephemeral concept we’ve been chasing for some 20 years. 

During this evolution, intranets have accumulated a ton of baggage. In fact, some naysayers have warned that intranets are on the verge of extinction.

So believe me when I tell you that when you advocate for your next intranet, speed-to-value is extremely important. Executives want to see their return on the technology investment ASAP.

And let’s be honest: that’s true of all technologies, even ones without the baggage that intranets carry. 

Let's look at four ways to enhance speed-to-value for your intranet or any similar collaboration solution.

Plan Carefully

Planning is always, always the most important step. Really take the time to define your needs. Don’t do it in a vacuum, either: talk to stakeholders of all kinds. You know the drill. And remember: Do not to cut corners when it’s time to take action.

As I've warned before, “It’s all too tempting to shortcut the user research piece because you think you know it already. Yet when an enterprise takes the time to study users, they are often surprised at what they uncover.”

As part of that needs assessment, develop a growth plan. Determine the costs of status quo, and think in terms of people-hours, processing, workflows, resources (paper, filing, storage), software costs —everything. 

Do the math to get a clear idea of the baseline. That way you’ll have an easier calculation of the value of subsequent projects.


I’ve talked myself blue about the ROI of usability. Remember:  

Creating a great user experience is about solving user pain and driving efficiency in the enterprise. But even if you could care less about your users, there’s still a good reason why you should pay attention to UX starting right now: the rule of thumb is, every $1 that is misspent up front in the design phase costs $10 to correct in the development phase and $100 to fix after the project has gone live.” 

Whatever solution you decide to implement, make it usable. This helps in two ways: first, time saved in ramp-up for your users, and second, in driving adoption. You’ll get more users happy fast, requiring less training and less friction as your users make the switch.

Just Say No to DIY

Unless you have a team on-hand that specializes in intranets and other collaborative technologies, your homegrown solution is not going to provide optimal speed-to-value.

But there is good news. With the advent of the cloud and abundance of products that live on it, you don’t have to develop a fully custom solution (unless you want to, which could be the right call for some).

These days, however, intranet products should adapt to your environment, and get you most of the way there (see No. 4, below). In fact, if done right, you should be up and running in a day.

As you know, when you’re launching an intranet, loading all the reams of existing content can be a hassle.

However, the provider of any decent intranet product will help with the loading and other consulting services if needed. The expense for those professional services may well get compensated for in time saved.

Do your math before you decide whether to forego any additional onboarding services.

The 80/20 Rule

When it comes to speed-to-value, getting 80 percent of the way to your perfect solution could be enough.

Do you really want to waste time on that last challenging 20 percent? Even if you decide that final 20 percent is worth the effort, don’t let that fractional piece stand in the way of speed-to-value.

You can make it part of your overall plan and schedule it in phase two of the project. That way, you can start driving your value more quickly.

Focus on what’s most important, and map out a plan for the rest. Doing something custom will limit your flexibility in upgrading and expanding your presence down the road, think hard before you go with a professional services or custom engagement. 

The cost of having a so-so solution is greater than having no solution at all, because in both cases, no one is using it.

To avoid that waste (and a solution is a terrible thing to waste), you first take the time to really understand your needs deeply. Then you work towards a solution that is highly usable and more efficient than the status quo.

When you do that, leverage experts and industry best practices for products and solutions and take a phased approach that lets you capture the solution efficiencies quickly, then you are on your way to addressing your need for speed.

This really is just the start. Value is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. What are you doing today to capture solution value faster?

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Stig Nygaard.