Most companies assume that the person who is being hired to manage an intranet should have IT qualification in html, CSS, php, network and design.
However, intranets are different from the company’s public sites. Intranets usually served as internal reference guides and hence they need to fulfill their function of usability, easy navigation, good and updated content.
In my opinion, when you need to hire someone to manage your company’s intranet, the candidate needs to:
1. Possess good writing skills- because often the person would end up writing some content or update it
2. Have good knowledge of your company’s product and services (if he/she is new, then the person must be willing to learn)
3. Have some knowledge of now to manage a site but need not be an IT programmer or graphic designer.
Do you know what type of person best fits the requirements above?
A blogger is often an all rounder. It started off with a passion to write/share that resulted the blogger starting his/her own site. Often with limited budget, the blogger needs to learn on the technical aspects of site building and work on improvising the site to attract more visitors.
Most bloggers that gets a decent amount of traffic can write in an engaging way and write for the audience in mind.
Sometimes the blogger may venture into niche sites ….possibly something that he does not know much about. But he makes the effort to learn.
I started developing my own sites as a hobby few years before I worked to update intranet full time.
Ok, it may not be exactly what you have in mind. But well, you get the idea….
What I am trying to say is that you should not be looking at programmer or a graphic designer for the intranet if you expect someone to help in content writing for the portal. Because the design implementation is only once or occasionally.
Unless the person is also good at copywriting. Then you would have yourself a win-win situation.
Even the intranet or information portal with the best design- if it is not updated…no one would use the site as a point of reference.
Or you could promote a burned out staff from customer service who happens to be an IT grad who can speak and write good English. You could use the same script that my boss used when she convinced me to take up the position twice (in the first and the second company):
“I think you are suited for the job. Just give it a try for 2 or 3 months maybe. Give yourself a chance. If you find it is not for you, then no issues, I would not hold you back. What have you got to lose?”
It was those magic words that I ended up with intranets for 10 years. One which I have no regrets because she was absolutely the best boss anyone could ever ask for (too bad she did not become my boss for long because due to her outstanding abilities, she was also promoted quickly. But I will forever be grateful to her).
Trust me, chances are, in order for information to be updated and the site to be reliable, someone is going to have to write the content. If you expect the intranet staff to do nothing by upload/download and expect someone else to provide content, then you are seriously wasting resources.
Because upload/download does not take a long time. It is the content writing that does.
And it is something that your overworked managers or product owners would not be able to give, at least in a timely manner.
As I mentioned, I have managed intranets for 2 large companies. Each time when I was brought in, I was told that I only need to do upload/download and a bit of content maintenance.
Eventually, I ended up having to write most of the content myself because no one could provide to me. If the content is not there, staff will come to the site custodian to check on info. Then the site custodian checks with the product owners and often none of the information are forthcoming.
You would be surprised, many people can really talk but cannot write well. When they sit down to write they always have mental block.
If the information needs to go out quickly (due to urgent changes or crisis management), there must be someone at a moment’s notice to be able to write the content.
Since you already paid for a full resource, you might as well make use of the staff to help with the content.
That is why I still think a blogger is suited for the job 😉 because bloggers who have established a structured site are used to writing on the go. They just look at something and then words would pour out effortlessly.
My point is, content management for an intranet is more important that the look and feel of the site. If the site is only to be accessed within the company’s firewall and using desktop, it need not even be mobile responsive.