Tactical vs strategic intranet managers – which one are you?

What are your personal priorities for your intranet and how do they influence its development? Your daily activities demonstrate your approach more than any strategy document.

Wedge Black Wedge Black, @Wedge, helps organisations improve the navigation and content of their intranet, and writes about intranet best practices for ClearBox Consulting.

Here he looks at the topic of tactical vs strategic intranet managers. I’ll hand you over to him…

Tactical vs strategic intranet managers – which one are you?

The people most involved with the intranet massively influence how it serves everyone else in the organisation. Intranet managers define their roles by their personal priorities and daily actions.

What kind of intranet are you nurturing?

(If you have a story to share about your intranet, do please get in touch – Rachel)

Tactical intranet management

When confronted with daily requests from management, stakeholders, and colleagues, the tactical intranet manager may find themselves continuously dealing with time-sensitive urgent matters.

The role might well include managing the home page, and publishing news articles. Some intranet managers sit within the Internal Communications function, and are also editors.

Business change, crisis, legislation, new projects, and JFDI requests from ‘above’ can mean that the hands-on intranet manager can spend a lot of time fire-fighting.

A great deal is done each day, but perhaps the month is lacking in obvious achievements.

Tactical intranet managers are concerned with:

  • news publishing and editing on behalf of others
  • adding menu items at the behest of directors / senior managers
  • creating project sites for collaboration
  • making HR policies ‘live’ and available
  • transforming forms from Word to online format
  • cropping and resizing photos for colleagues
  • helping people update their profiles (begging people to update their profiles)
  • responding to requests, ideas, and feedback within four hours (often four minutes)
  • supporting content owners, contributors, and champions / super-users
  • responding to and implementing requests from the steering committee
  • replacing the intranet platform.

A few years ago, these tasks were my bread and butter, as I worked to develop better intranets and devolve governance to get more people involved.

Juggling urgent tasks against long-term objectives meant that I sometimes got overwhelmed and found I needed to work from a different hot desk or from home to regain my focus.

If you want to boost your profile and career, there’s a strategic intranet workshop in May (London) that can give you a framework to take back to the office. And you can get stuck into how better to tackle the day-to-day management activities too.

Strategic intranet management

It may be obvious that your intranet strategy must support your business strategy, yet many intranets are designed, launched, and managed without a strategy.

Surely, your organisation’s objectives must be considered when developing the flavour of your intranet?

Surely the IT and HR strategies are important when designing the tools people need online?

The strategic intranet manager, whether or not they’re adhering to a formal strategy, has long-term goals and wants to make people’s working lives easier, and help the organisation achieve its objectives.

It’s perfectly possible for this person to be a little more distant from the intranet platform than the tactical intranet manager, indeed, these two people might work together. This role holder might be responsible for collaboration or digital transformation, or involved with developing the workplace strategy.

Then again, the strategic intranet manager might well be the one and only intranet manager who has cleverly developed an ‘extended team’ across the organisation – members of which manage sections of the intranet in a tactical manner.

Decentralised governance can be complicated, but it does share the workload.

Strategic intranet managers are concerned with:

  • the objectives and performance of news, reference material, and all content
  • the lifecycle of content, from need, through creation, maintenance, and to archiving or deletion
  • regular usability and user experience testing of menus and navigation aids
  • setting and improving the governance over site / section creation, use, and maintenance
  • developing self-serve and single sign-on integrations with other systems
  • researching and discovering the high-value tasks that people need help in completing
  • researching and discovering the low-value tasks that the intranet must automate or smooth out for people
  • understanding engagement levels, social contributions, and staff involvement
  • setting and maintaining the appropriate (and evolving) governance processes and people needed to manage, lead, and improve the intranet and employee experience
  • working to match technology and tools to people’s work and needs, and ensuring people have guidance.

The strategic view is not superior to the tactical view.

Getting things done on a daily basis is incredibly important.

The tactical intranet manager (as I might’ve described myself some years ago) just needs to have a strong future vision and an understanding of why helping people crop photos and upload HRM policies is useful.

Many many tactical intranet managers become strategic intranet leaders who can still fix a broken menu, unstick a workflow, and spot a typo at 50 paces. Things that a more high-level role-holder might need help doing.

Post author: Wedge Black @Wedge

Thanks Wedge. What do you think of this article? I’d love to know your thoughts. You’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

I recommend checking out Wedge’s upcoming conference, Intranet Now. It’s happening in London on 30 September and I’m attending.

Further reading about intranets via All Things IC

Fancy speaking at the Intranet Now conference?

Three ways to use your intranet to improve IC

How to structure your intranet

How to simplify your intranet

How to plan and launch a new intranet.

Learn more about internal communication – browse the latest one-day Masterclasses from All Things IC and sign up today:

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First published on the All Things IC blog 5 May 2016.

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