The feature fix

When people want to create a new Intranet, what they really want is to solve a problem

However you identified the problem, through surveys, feedback or followups, you’ve discovered that staff engagement is low, that they’re frustrated with the current Intranet and it’s not performing as expected. When that problem becomes big enough or annoys the right senior stakeholder, a project is initiated.

Initial thoughts may be the Intranet is incapable of doing what you want. You don’t think it’s up to the task, so you look to the Internet for demos and solutions rather than consider the purpose of the intranet in the first place. As the project lead or manager you begin to invite intranet software suppliers to come and present how they would solve your problem.

The suppliers demo their technology and highlight areas that they could help often based on ‘similar’ companies they have worked with. This leads to more requirements not always referring to your problem, but the perceived generic problem. Suppliers highlight capabilities that they can offer and best suit their software.

Herein lies the biggest danger. Seduction by software, or the ‘feature fix’ as I like to call it. The problem is you, and they quite quickly lose sight of the original friction point. It’s great to understand what is available and how others have used their solution but you should always keep in mind your original objectives, not the other way around.

In my experience, speaking with people is the only way to get your requirements right. This can only be achieved by speaking with the representatives from within the business that actually face the problem you are trying to solve. Interviewing stakeholders to understand their journey to the information they seek.

By understanding this you should seek intranet software that actually facilitates, or hopefully improves the process you are trying to fix, instead of throwing more capabilities and features at your intranet audience. It removes the massive risk of thinking ‘you are the user’ and the whole intranet audience. It will enable you to measure the success or failure of your project by the processes improved and goals achieved rather than the features that are implemented. Remember your intranet software is just the enabler!

If you are looking to understand your intranet requirements I’ve recorded some videos that guide you through the process of interviewing your stakeholders and conducting a requirements gathering workshop.