How to Start an Intranet Project

April 24, 2011 by Igor Lozhkin

Like most software projects, an intranet project starts with gathering and analyzing business requirements. However, because intranet is not a standalone software application but rather an integrated information delivery ecosystem for a particular company, it is quite important during this stage to formulate what is the anticipated primary purpose of the intranet to be built? 

Most contemporary intranets start with one of the following purposes:
a) internal social networking system, or
b) data-driven information delivery system, which helps employees access data in internal operational databases and perform their primary job functions

A successful intranet will most probably evolve into a feature-rich employee portal, combining both system types, but in reality it will start as one or the other, depending on the real business rationale behind the intranet implementation project.

Regardless of the intranet type or purpose, there are two most important components, which have to be chosen for the next step. These components are the backbone of the Intranet as they glue all other parts together:

- web portal system - an integration platform
- identity management system - responsible for all aspects of user profile management, configuration, access control, activity tracking and auditing 

The second step of the selection process depends on the primary initial purpose of the Intranet, it identifies components to be used for major services, such as:

- reporting

- web forms

- links management

- mass-mailing and notification

- web-file access

- content management and collaboration, etc.


Intranet components should be dev-language neutral, communicate using HTTP/REST protocol, and should be easy to integrate with other components supporting REST. 

With quickly changing business requirements, it is hard to predict in advance what additional components/apps will be integrated into your Intranet at a later stage, but there will be others as the Intranet evolves. Thus selecting a web portal system, which was designed for integration flexibility as well as components, which may be integrated with other components is an important factor to ensure smooth and organic intranet growth and evolution.

The final step is the most exciting: it is the content which brings the life to the system and the user value to the intranet. Content development - whether it is knowledge base articles, reports, forms, data access solutions, collection of links, uploaded files, etc. will take most of the time to develop; and, in a successful intranet, will never have an end.