The intranet POC: try before you buy

Launching a digital workplace is a major strategic decision for organizations. Even if you did the work to describe and find your ideal solution there might be some uncertainty left. Will the ultimate solution be feasible? What will be the ROI of the investment? Will the prospective end user communities be productive with the new way of doing things? Will it be flexible enough to meet your specific needs? Will it perform as advertised?

Yes, you can ask for a demo or a trial but even that might not give you all the answers you need.

What you need is a test drive. You need to buckle up, take it to the road and put the pedal to the medal. What you need is a Proof Of Concept (POC).


According to Wikipedia, a Proof of concept is a realization of a certain method or idea in order to demonstrate its feasibility, or a demonstration in principle with the aim of verifying that some concept or theory has practical potential.

It goes beyond a trial:

  • A trial is an opportunity to have hands-on experience with the product and to validate the features and capabilities pitched by the manufacturer in the demo. A trial typically expires after 30-60 days.
  • A Proof Of Concept is a more formalized version of the trial. It involves a more targeted and guided implementation of the product in the customer’s environment. The goal of a POC is to provide a high level of understanding of how the product may function for a specific use case. It gives the manufacturer the opportunity to more closely align the product’s capabilities with the customer’s needs and requirements.

A POC consists of 4 steps;

1) Defining the success criteria
2) Engineering the proposed solution
3) Evaluating the solution against success criteria
4) Deciding to move forward – or not.

The POC is invaluable for 2 main reasons. First, it lets you experience whether the functionality and look & feel resonate with the expectations towards a digital workplace solution. Secondly, it is proven to be the best way to gain support from all stakeholders. The bottom line is: it can help you save a lot of money.


What would you prefer: a small investment beforehand or a failed project?

Launching a new intranet is a serious project and, depending on the size of your organization, will come at a significant cost . When a project is started without a POC, it is possible that there are certain expectations of the platform that cannot be realized. To set different requirements halfway through the project or to build certain functionalities at that point as custom work, is much more expensive than if this had already been estimated in advance.

Rather than starting this all-embracing project and gradually finding out that it does not completely meets the requirements, creating a POC is the perfect way to get the first feeling about how the platform works. The most important requirements for now and in the future are set out in the demo, so you can convince the end users of the power of your new intranet.


Once the choice has been made to introduce a new intranet, it must be made clear what the preconditions are in this process. The easiest way is to start working with scenarios. When you create personas and attach certain actions to it, it becomes very concrete to test which workflow should be made possible. What if I am now an account manager and I want to quickly put some actions in the system for the operational team after a meeting with a customer? What if I am an employee who wants to submit an expence claim, which needs to be approved by a superior? By sketching situations like this, you can quickly determine whether the solution meets the requirements you have determined from your own business.

It is important that all requirements are properly discussed at the start. An intranet will last for many years and everyone in the organization must be able to work optimally with it. Therefore a POC is built for your specific organization based on a number of requirements and scenarios. This way, you can see what is possible within the standard solution and which custom-made solutions may need to be built.

What’s more; the POC allows you to see how your digital workplace supplier works. Is communication open, honest and fast? Are the requirements and possibilities carefully listened to from both sides? Is it clear which custom solutions are not built in the POC, but will end up in the final version? It is of course an intensive process that has an impact on all employees in the organization, so it is very important that there is a smooth cooperation.


The POC makes it possible to carefully examine the possibilities of the platform and investigate a possible cooperation with the supplier. If both areas are positive, there is a good blueprint for the real project.

Don’t get me wrong: a POC requires an investment in both time and money  (you would need to buy a minimal amount of licenses). When testing the POC, it is important to involve managers and stakeholders, but also a cross-section of the end users within the organization. Think of the group of people who mainly consume information, but also the group that will create content themselves or supervise on the work done by others. If all of those involved are given the opportunity to test the POC and provide their feedback, this again will be a very good blueprint for the rest of the project.

This focus group can be your ambassadors during the final introduction of the intranet. Because this enthusiastic group of people works at all levels of the organization, they easily introduce their colleagues into the new way of working. This way, part of the adoption process is immediately addressed and it will become easier for end users to get used to the new way of working.

Not sure if a Proof Of Concept for Involv is the way to go for your organization? Get in touch, we‘d be happy to discuss your options.


Tim Bogemans

Tim is Collaboration Expert at Involv/Cognit. He builds leading solutions to help people collaborate easier, faster and happier. Connect on LinkedIn.

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