Do you want to be an exceptional Intranet Manager who accomplish wonderful things and deliver a world class intranet? Then one of the most important things you have to do is “conquer” all areas of expertise involved in the intranet.
A while ago I heard an Intranet Manager saying “I have no clue about what our IT developers do”. While this is ok at low level coding activities (you do not have to know html language), it is NOT ok on a higher conceptual level. In my opinion you must understand what they do, how they are implementing your new intranet features, how this technically relates to the existing intranet and how they are solving your problems.
Only then can you decide on the right development activities for your intranet and have an opinion about the best solution. If you do not have the knowledge you are at the mercy of your developers. And while this is not necessarily bad (most IT developers are not evil), your intranet has a much greater chance of success if you (who have overall responsibility) have a basic understanding of IT, integrations, platform choices etcetera. Because you are the one, maybe the only one, who have the potential to see the intranet’s every need, no matter which area it falls in. Technology choices are not made in isolation from everything else, they affect the “softer” parts of the solution and therefore you have to take an active part in this.
An example: We are applying responsive web design on the Intranet. I am a comms officer, but if I do not understand the basics about html, what a CSS is, why we have this on a separate asset server, how the design break points are controlled by media queries and so on, we would never get a good solution. Not because my developer lack the skills on his own (actually he is brilliant and I am really fortunate to have him!) but because without knowledge I would order the wrong things and require suboptimal solutions.
Of course this also applies to more areas, e.g. HR, comms, business development and core operations—the more you know about all this the better intranet manager you will be.
So, if you, intranet manager, have a background as a communications officer, prioritise learning about IT and other areas related to your intranet!
How to start? Easy—ask your developer the first “stupid” questions about how things really work. Soon you will ask smarter questions. Always strive to know about more than you know today. Never act as if some things on your intranet is not your responsibility, or someone else’s work. Because it is in fact your job, if you want to control just how great intranet you will deliver.