Intranet redesign: building a business case

An intranet is not a website. In fact, its shocking how many executives and companies treat the intranet as nothing more than an internal website. I had one head of HR tell me, of a regional – municipal government in Vancouver, Canada, once tell me, “I don’t see why we even need an intranet — we have a website, email, and a phone.” I won’t even repeat what the CEO of this loser culture told me….

When properly executed, the intranet is an all-encompassing business system — a nearly equivalent, and compatible business ecosystem. Technology is only a supporting component; the success of an intranet has more to do with people in process.

Understanding the role of people and the employees begins at the top of the organization. In Leading an intranet redesign I espoused the importance of having an executive champion. Like a political campaign, an intranet redesign requires the support and vote of those that count – particularly senior management.

Truth be known, when it comes to execution of the site information architecture, layout and site design, your target audience is far more important. Employees determine the ultimate success of your intranet.

If you build it they will not come. It’s not enough just to build it; you must build a system that is engaging, intuitive and bestows tangible value for the employee. If it is not enticing and easy to use, then your intranet is doomed to die a slow death until the next redesign.


Employee requirements and input must be built into the blueprint of the intranet long before any attempt at redesign an intranet or portal’s ‘look-and-feel.’

Engaging employees for feedback on their opinions and feedback can be simple to complex; qualitative to quantitative. My personal preference is a combination of user survey and focus groups. However, one-on-one interviews, usability testing, and feedback tracking all have their own value.

In short, there are both qualitative and quantitative tools for engaging employee users. If it is in fact a full redesign, then usability testing serves limited value. Usability testing is best employed when testing a working prototype prior to going live. A combination of survey and focus groups allows both quantitative and qualitative measurement.

For a complete comparison of employee research techniques please read When to use what research tools.


Not to be forgotten in the process of building a business case and a blueprint for your redesign is the needs and requirements of the business itself.

Since the business can’t speak for itself, senior managers are the voices of choice to speak for the needs of the organization. Of the senior managers that matter most, there are those that represent the ‘big three’:

  • Corporate communications
  • Human resources
  • Information technology (information services)

In most organizations, the key players often represent those three disciplines. However, other key stakeholders could include:

  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Business units

Senior managers are however extremely opinionated. And they must be heard. At the outset of any redesign, key managers should be interviewed one-on-one. Resist the urge to do a focus group for initial consultations; senior managers deserve your unequivocal attention.

Keep reading….Intranet Redesign

1 thought on “Intranet redesign: building a business case”

  1. Writing -or building, if you prefer, a business case is a matter of stacking up the benefits (tangible and intangible) against the costs (of creating, operating, managing and maintaining !! the system over a meaningful number of years (intranets – maybe 1-2 years into the future).
    I agree with Toby – build it and they will not come……. unless the business case successfully answers (for the users) the killer question “What problem is this intranet solution fixing ?” Of course, if nobody gives a rat's arse about the problem, nobody will care about the solution.
    A negative business case ought to kill off the project (excellent for getting rid of unwanted pets) – but a sound and positive business case not only provides the justification for spending the cash – it also names and prioritises the deliverables (i.e. the benefits) and therefore helps in planning the project and later – in evaluating whether the project has been sucessful.

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