Designing a good intranet system: collecting requirements

Designing a good Intranet is difficult, not least because ‘good’ means so many different things to different organizations. Some are looking for a collaboration tool, a means to share work and ideas.

Designing a good intranet system: collecting requirements

For others it is all about documents, how they are stored, and how they are filed. Others still want something more like a traditional Intranet, with news, department sites and so on.

So how do we ensure that at the start of a project we are collecting the right requirements for these very different systems? There are numerous means and methods, but the number one rule we always stick to is this:

“Make sure you are talking to the right people.”

Our requirement gathering process can take many forms depending on the problems we are trying to solve. We often run workshops, tackling subject areas like 'infrastructure,' 'metadata,'  and 'content migration.' These workshops could involve shadowing people or systems, round table discussions with a particular group, or one-on-one interviews.

But no matter the method, no matter the system being designed, it is imperative we are talking to the correct people.

Let’s look at an example:

A classic company Intranet system - It is easy, on these types of projects, to spend a lot of time with the ‘project board’ and the senior management team. The first group have been set up to deal with the project and the second are invariably paying for it. Both will have strong views about what the Intranet needs to do. It is important however to focus requirements gathering on the majority of normal staff, the people on the ‘shop floor,' who will use the Intranet day to day. It is these people that have the best insight into what the Intranet should (and shouldn’t do), simply because they are the primary users.

Martyn Perks Head of Customer Insight

Martyn is a business consultant with wide ranging experience in both public and private sectors. His expertise is in helping world-wide and small organisations improve how they communicate, share knowledge and innovate internally — aiding their growth and competitiveness. He works with senior leadership to front-line staff advising and mentoring them with compelling insights, recommendations, prototypes and business cases. Because his background is in design, he uses these skills whenever possible to help make complex ideas simple, in tandem with tangible and insightful analysis.

In addition to his consultancy work, Martyn regularly speaks, produces debates, and writes about a wide variety of topics including about privacy, big data, social media, innovation, design, 3D printing, behaviour change, usability, architecture, and artificial intelligence. Publications he has written for include The Independent, International Business Times, Telegraph business, the Guardian, Big Issue, Core77, Design Week, Netimperative, spiked, Web Designer Depot and CMS Wire. He co-authored Winners and Losers in a Troubled Economy: How to Engage Customers Online to Gain Competitive Advantage (2008), contributed a chapter on online communities to The Future of Community: reports of a death greatly exaggerated (2008); founded the Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for Innovation; and conveyed the Big Potatoes: Manifesto for Design group.

He has spoken at debates across Europe and in America including at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Battle of Ideas festival, Design Exchange at the London Design Festival, Anglo Israeli Association in Jerusalem, Zurich Salon, Dublin Salon, Hellenic American Union in Athens, London College of Fashion, and at the private members club Home House. He has appeared on R4’s PM radio news programme debating whether blue-skies thinking is a management fad with FT’s Lucy Kellaway, and more recently debated whether artificially intelligent machines will take over humanity on SkyNews’ lunchtime #SkyDebate. Thankfully, he said they are still lightyear’s away from being as smart as us!

Twitter Feed

Where Next? Relevant Stories and Insights.

You don't need a SharePoint Intranet
You don't need a SharePoint Intranet
Many employees will only have a rudimentary understanding of 'the cloud' from the consumer world and services such as iCloud, Dropbox and maybe Office apps. They only know SharePoint as 'that place where we [are supposed to] store documents... right?'
How cloud & mobile support intranet adoption
How cloud & mobile support intranet adoption
There is a huge amount of interest at the moment in enabling greater access to company data and capitalizing on intranet investments. Making best use of cloud technologies in conjunction with supporting a diverse range of devices is key to this goal.
What makes an a​ward winning intranet solution?
What makes an a​ward winning intranet solution?
When looking back over the last few years of award winners, it’s become clear a lot has changed in the world of intranets. Not only has design moved on but also technology and in turn the capability within the sites. This sparked the question of how do these companies go about building an award winning intranet?