One of the greatest things about running your own business is the ability to have some choice over the kind and variety of work you get to be involved in. My most recent project is a great example of this. While presenting in Dallas about the great advancement of interactive web tools in the past decade and how company intranets need to come out of the dark ages of 1995, my fellow colleagues at Blue Hill Solutions were busy working away on a client’s external website.

Yes, my friends, it’s important that one who teaches also do. So, while my passion is internal communication, I keep my web brain sharply tuned to the trends of the capital “I” Internet by managing external web projects in addition to my work on intranet tools.

queen_bee_screenshot.jpgJust today, Blue Hill Solutions, the company my husband and I founded in mid 2006 launched a brand new shiny e-commerce site for a local accessories company called Queen Bee Creations. And the amazing part is that we all (clients, design firm and Blue Hill) worked together to pull this off in 8 weeks. Now I am not one to toot my own horn, but I am sure you are asking yourself, “How did they do it?”

There’s a magic word that I spend a lot of time thinking about when I am at work, trying to understand the person at the drive-through window or just asking my husband what he’s thinking about when we are both silent while riding in the car (I will give you a hint…I am not thinking about rockets, but he is!). Anyway, the word I am talking about is C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-I-O-N!

A successful project will always come down to a bit of a hard work and a LOT of communication. And communication comes in many forms. There are the typical ways: face-to-face meetings, phone calls, an e-mail or a hundred here and there. But what I found really helpful with our project was the use of this online tool called Basecamp. We use it inside of our company for our internal projects as well, but what really made Basecamp a critical business tool for this project was that it brought together people (clients, designers and our software project team) who worked in different locations under one roof so to speak. If we needed to track a conversation on an issue we could without digging through e-mails and forwarding them on. We tracked milsetones and we were able to share images, documents and screenshots whether we were in Portland or not — all through the cooperative power of the Internet.

And this is what I mean when I talk about utilizing the power of the Internet to transform your company’s intranet. Your intranet should be a place that employees come to get information that helps them get their jobs done or make decisions or find the right people to involve. Using Basecamp for our project is just an example of the kinds of tools that are out there waiting for you. I will try to continue to highlight Internet tools here in this space and help you relate them to communication challenges. It’s time for the intranet to be more than just a company newsletter…let’s build that vision together.