How to hire an intranet consultant

Great intranets are rarely done solely in-house. There’s too much at stake and the intranet is far too political to not take advantage of a non-partisan intranet consultant with relevant expertise.

There are advantages to doing it yourself:
  • Costs less cash out of pocket
  • Internal stakeholders are forced to learn the ropes
  • Internal jobs are reinforced

The disadvantages of doing it yourself are obvious:
  • Lack of skill and experience
  • Lack of people to execute
  • Internal politics on what and how to do it
  • Time away from day-to-day work


The greatest barrier to an intranet’s potential is politics. Technology and budget are secondary barriers. The intranet is a political football.

Why? Most intranets don’t grab the attention of executives. The intranet is left to middle managers in communications and IT with limited budget and power. Conflict ensues and the intranet stalls – often for years.

Resolving conflict and breaking the subsequent limbo requires senior management support and participation. Where politics runs thick, a collaborative governance model is strongly urged.

Tearing down the political barrier often requires a third-party consultant with lots of expertise and no political axe to grind, but an arsenal full of best practices. If communications tries to lead the process, the other stakeholders will be suspicious. Ditto for IT and HR. If budget allows, everyone respects an experienced and capable mediator.


Building or redesigning an intranet requires a lot of work. It can take months or years. If you decide to build or rebuild the intranet, who will be minding the store?

An intranet requires:

  • Employee input (research)
  • Best practices intelligence (benchmarking)
  • Business requirements analysis and documentation
  • Strategic planning (mission, objective, goals, CSIs)
  • Functional planning (structure, content, etc.)
  • Governance model
  • Policies and guidelines
  • Business case and ROI
  • Content management & migration
  • Information architecture
  • Layout
  • Design
  • Tools
  • Staffing
  • Technology implementation
  • Network and database administration
  • Integration
  • Writing
  • Etc.
Hiring an intranet consultant will free-up the necessary time to stay on top of the day-to-day job you were hired for – the daily news, benefits enrollment, new application rollouts, etc.
Finally, does your team have the skills? Have they ever developed a governance model, an editorial policy, or an LDAP integration plan?

How to hire an intranet consultant

If you have a budget and a work culture that recognizes the value of an outside intranet expert then proceed with caution.

an Internet consultant is not an intranet consultant. A web design firm has deep creative skills, but rarely has any business acumen and intranet expertise. A big-five consulting firm has very smart people but is very expensive.

What to look for in an intranet expert:
  • Intranet client case studies
  • Detailed biographies with demonstrated project experience
  • Experienced individuals that will be assigned to your project
  • Client references with names and numbers (not just unnamed anonymous testimonials)
  • Detailed pricing
  • Corporate strength and documented financial viability
  • Proven and detailed project methodologies
Be cautious if a consultant only has:
  • Screenshots and mock-ups
  • One or two paragraph bios that focus on favorite movies and hobbies with a cute or too-cool-for-school photo
  • People on a list in some far flung office that won’t actually be working on your project
  • Unnamed and anonymous testimonials
  • Vague pricing ‘guess-timates’
  • Tiny shops with no documented financials (P&L)
  • Assurance that “they’re happy to work according to your project plan”

Identifying the right intranet consultant

Prepare a thorough and detailed RFP (request for proposal). Invite companies that have proven experience and case studies. If you don’t know one (though you should know several if you read this news blog) then look for a recommendation:
  • Ask a leading company or partner
  • Sniff around your local trade associations like IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) or PRS (Public Relations Societies)
  • Phone your IT analyst at Garner or Forrester
  • Google the phrase “intranet consultant” or “intranet consulting” with or without geographic locations (if that’s important to you)
  • Post a comment here and I or another reader will help steer you

The RFP responses from any intranet consulting firm should contain the following:
  • Line by line details of every process and deliverable
  • Intranet consulting history and overview
  • Detailed client case studies
  • Solution functional specifications
  • Consulting, licensing (if applicable) AND implementation costs
  • Project team resumes, skills overview & experience
  • Client references and contact information
  • Detailed timeline and schedules
  • Ongoing service & support commitment
  • Solution technical specifications (if applicable)
  • Product demonstration (if applicable)

A final word:

Google before you hire a particular intranet consultant or intranet consulting firm. I’m a little bias because I write a lot, have the top blog dedicated to intranets and speak at a lot of conferences, but I like to see for myself the ‘thought leadership’ credentials of the consultant. A great intranet consultant is not only experienced, but a leader with published credentials to support it.

Top intranet consulting firms:

obviously there are far more consultants than this… but actually surprisingly few that focus namely on just intranets. So yes I’ve left a few out, but this is not intended to be a consultant directory but an article (also note that the author hasn’t used his own name).

Related reading:

Why is the intranet so political?