Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who owns the Intranet?

The question Who owns the Intranet? was asked on Twitter by @danasml from the UK recently and my instant response was “The Users own the Intranet !” . While I am sure most Intranet managers would agree that Intranets are there for the benefit of users, what @danasml was asking was who is financially responsible. What part of the business funds the Intranet? Who has the task of taking any proposed redevelopment business case to the board for consideration? What division is responsible for including money in their budget for the operation and development of the Intranet?

In my case over the past five years the Intranet and its management has been in the IT division, the HR division, the Shared Business Services division and currently the Internal Communications division. I’m sure that if the question was asked of all the Intranet Managers out there that the answers would be just as varied.

The fact is that regardless of what division I have fallen under and who is funding the Intranets operational expenses, I have been able to maintain a kind of autonomy. I know from discussions with other Intranet managers around Australia and abroad that this is not always the case. Some divisions feel that if they fund it, they own it and have the right to use it push their own agenda.

I strongly believe that the Intranet MUST be there for everyone. It is not purely a communication tool for the communicators or a policy and process delivery tool for HR. It is not just a repository for technical documentation or launch pad for the latest browser based applications for IT. The Intranet is all of these things and more and it needs to be managed in a balanced and unbiased way. Wherever in the organisation the Intranet manager sits they need to be an impartial facilitator for all parts of the business.

I think you should try to develop your Intranet over time so that it is a business tool for everyone in the organisation from the executive group to the workers on the coal face. If you can make sure that there is at least one or two specialised functions that each staff member can use to assist them perform their specific role and more importantly ensuring that they are made aware of these tools and how to use them, when it comes time to put your hand out for money it will be less difficult to justify. Regardless of what division is submitting the business case or funding request both the requestor and the approver should have first hand experience of the value of the Intranet as a business tool.

Sound like a big ask? Not possible in your organisation? I would be very interested to hear your thoughts, observations and experiences on the subject.