A common question we get asked when showing Bonzai is “Is it as simple as plug-and-play?” The short answer is…not really. While all the bits and pieces are there from the get-go, it still requires some planning and assembly. How you want to configure and set Bonzai up is what turns it into the employee collaboration tool you need it to be. The second question we get asked is “How long does a Bonzai implementation take?” In short…it depends – on the current state of your intranet content, how ready you are to make the required decisions, and the availability of your key resources. With a pre-built intranet product like Bonzai, you can launch a shiny, new intranet in about 12 weeks. The truth is, the actual installation of Bonzai only takes about a day. The rest of the time, we're walking you through the vital steps involved in successfully planning for and launching your intranet. My goal is to shed more light on both of these questions below.
Before you start (week 0)
Before we even begin talking about your intranet, a couple of foundational pieces should be in place:
- Have you done your Content audit OR do you have a Content inventory? This is an audit/inventory of either your current intranet content (if you have one), or an audit/inventory of all the content you wish to have on your future intranet, and where it is stored today. All we need to know is where your content is, how it's structured, how up to date it is and whether you intend to carry it forward to your new intranet. I know that’s easier said than done, but the more we understand about your content, the quicker we can get the party started. If you're hating the process already, I urge you to push through the pain because trust me, it gets a whole lot better :)
- Do you have a SharePoint 2013 or 2016 environment? Bonzai lives on Office 365, SharePoint 2013 or 2016, so we need to build a home for it within that environment. If you’re on an older version or are just planning to roll out SharePoint, we can help with that as well.
Project Kick-off and Initiation (week 1)
Now comes the fun part when we get to know you, and you get to know us. We discuss and develop the plan that starts with today’s kick-off and goes until launch day, including all the upcoming meetings and activities. This is also the time to identify your intranet guiding principles, goals, success metrics and must-haves for launch.
Our team helps you plan your intranet strategy and overall purpose, crafting a core message that will be carried through to your communication plan, governance, roll-out and adoption strategies later on.
Technical assessment (week 1)
This is when our technical infrastructure gurus meets your technical infrastructure gurus and get into the nitty gritty details of your SharePoint environment. We'll make sure you have everything in place to support Bonzai, and plan for the anticipated growth and use of your intranet for the next couple years.
Information architecture (week 2 - 4)
Remember that content audit you loved so much? Here’s when it comes in handy. We look at how your content is currently structured, review your content needs and gain insight into how your business operates. The content structure or information architecture (IA) is a vital part of your intranet because it tells you where information goes, how it's organized and how it can be accessed. Your site map, navigation structure, labels and web parts (SharePoint widgets) all provide small windows into your intranet content and different access points.
Content Mapping (week 4-5)
Content Mapping is important because that's when you take your current content and map it to your new content structure (IA). Think of it as moving houses and deciding which new room to put your furniture in. At this stage, it's important to engage your content owners in the content mapping process.
Bonzai configuration requirements and colors (week 5)
One key advantage of Bonzai is that it’s fully functional features are ready to roll. This means that the Bonzai requirements gathering process is very light in comparison to a typical custom development project. Our requirements workshops are more focused on uncovering configuration requirements for Bonzai functionality (including colors and fonts) so we can set the modules up in a way that makes sense to you.
Rollout Planning (week 6)
This is when we plan your intranet launch – from pre-launch activities to generate excitement, to launch day and post-launch initiatives to keep the momentum going. This might include an intranet naming contest, scavenger hunt, photo contests, t-shirts and more.
Governance Planning (week 6)
The day you launch your intranet is the day the real work begins. What's required to keep the content fresh? How will the intranet team manage all the requests and feedback coming in from end users? What type of policies do you need to put in place to ensure the intranet meets the overall goals you planned and how do you mitigate any risks that may come? Risks mitigation may include ensuring information is secure, content is current, and training all content contributors on how to post and manage information.
Bonzai Installation (week 6)
At this stage, we install Bonzai your SharePoint environments. Our infrastructure lead will through the necessary steps to install your Bonzai intranet. We’ll perform or assist with the installation to your non-production environments, as well as your production environment.
Bonzai Configuration and QA (week 6-7)
Using the requirements we’ve gathered, we perform the configuration steps required to set up the Bonzai components. Then we test it internally to make sure everything looks good before you test it for yourself.
Training (week 7)
One of the most important steps is training your Power Users and Content Authors on how to maintain and use Bonzai features. Power User and Content Author training sessions are run separately for each different intranet role. In-person training and manuals are also provided at this stage.
User Acceptance Testing (week 8)
This is a fun stage where a selected group of content authors go through Bonzai and test the functionality using test case scenarios we provide. Once all test cases have passed and been approved, we're ready for content authoring. If anything requires tweaking or fixing, we will do so at this stage.
Content migration / authoring (week 9-12)
The final stage before launch is content migration and authoring. All activities up to this point have prepared us for this stage. The average time required to migrate and author content for an intranet is about four weeks. Of course this depends on the amount of content you have and how straight-forward the migration efforts are. This step is always the biggest unknown in any intranet project because there are a number of unknown or unforeseeable things that may cause the content migration and authoring efforts to slow down. The stronger your content ownership structure is, the quicker decisions can be made and the more seamless this process will be.
Happy Birthday Intranet!
Congratulations on your new Intranet baby. The day your intranet is born is an exciting one full of celebrations, launch activities and relief! I’ve covered the stages involved in successfully launching an intranet pretty quickly, but I’ll go into more detail in future articles. Or better yet, contact us if you’d like to learn more now.