How to provision your audience

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You have done your research, formulated your strategy and built your brand new, collaborative, personalised intranet.  Now you just need to get your colleagues to use it.

The first step is to provision them onto the new site. Should be simple: just invite them using the all company email list. Er, no. Provisioning is a complex procedure that is going to involve IT, HR and Comms. The one thing you can be sure of, is this is much more complex than every tells you.

Identity information about your thousands of colleagues may come from multiple repositories, such as Microsoft Active Directory (AD) or human resources applications such as WorkDay or PeopleSoft. An identity management system must be able to synchronize the user identity information across all these systems, providing a single source of truth. If you are using O365 then usually that will be where the source information will reside.

So establish where is the single source of truth in your organisation. This could be a number of repositories – particularly if you have acquired other companies and have not integrated payroll and HR records yet. The launch of your digital workplace can be the catalyst to get these databases merged and integrated – but it will take time, so involve IT and HR early in your planning. If you want to know the jargon when you go into that meeting bone up on Identity Access Management (IAM).  Here is a useful article from SC Media that does not get too technical.

Why personalise?

A modern intranet is a personalised intranet.  This means it knows who you are, where you work, what you are interested in and which teams you are a member of. The benefit for the user is huge. Instead of looking at a one-size-fits-all portal, everyone’s experience of the intranet will be different – optimised to their needs.

Sure, there is a news carousel (probably at the top) which carries the news everyone in the organisation should be aware of. But below that is the news that affects your own department, function and location. Also there will be the notifications from the various work groups you follow, headlining that post from a colleague about a crucial development in a project you are working on.

How this is all presented and designed is down to the Information Architecture that you have slaved over during the development of the new intranet.  But how effective it is depends on the quality of the identity management system behind your intranet.

The O365 profile is probably going to be the bedrock.  This is where your picture resides, your email, your job title, where you sit in the hierarchy and so on. But in a collaborative intranet there will be other information you will want to record – rather as in your LinkedIn profile. This will sit in the profile system of your intranet: for instance what languages you speak, your previous employment history, and special skills and interests. By recording these fields you are opening up the opportunities for improved knowledge management and will surface the unseen talent that is latent in your organisation.

Tapping into the great unwired

Another important part of provisioning is how to get those members of staff onto the network who do not have an email. You will want them on the intranet – usually through a mobile first app which is probably on their own phone through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

To provision them you will need a separate process that allows them to register a device to download your app. You can do this through a unique code delivered in a payslip. Some of the mobile app providers have systems that will provision staff via a weblink, where they only have to register once and the platform ‘remembers’ their device.

Switching on – and switching off

The key advantage of your new intranet over the shadow IT that people are currently using like WhatsApp and Slack is that it is secure.  When people leave your organisation they could well still be on a WhatsApp Group.  I mean, who remembers to clean the lists of all the groups they are running – or are admins of.  With a single authorisation database, when someone leaves a company they will automatically stop having access to all the workgroups, files and information they enjoyed as an employee.

You will need to discuss with HR and IT how you govern this process.  Are leavers still visible on the system or do they become anonymous personas? You may want to keep the conversations and links that they created when they were working for you. Some organisations keep the name of the ex-employee live on the site for 6 months and then archive them, but each business is different so put this on the governance agenda well before you go live.

What happens at launch?

If you want to launch your intranet to a distinct bunch of people (usually for testing purposes) then personalised provisioning will be key. This allows you to launch the site to – say – the IT department before it goes live to everyone.  That way you can iron out the more egregious bugs with a group that may be more able to give technical feedback that is constructive.

On launch day you will want to pre-provision staff.  This means setting them up with an account and a log-in so they can start using the new intranet immediately. Part of your launch campaign will be to encourage them to fill out their profile to improve their user experience of the site. Then encourage them to join Groups that will be useful to them. And, of course, to set up their own groups around work projects. Social groups – that is non-work groups such as the Photography Club, Running Club etc are also important as they get staff onto the site and builds trust with the platform as well as engaging staff across silos.


This advice comes to you from the simplynetwork – our new community of advice, events and networking for anyone involved in building their future digital workplace.

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