A checklist for choosing the right intranet software for your business

13 January 2021 | Faye Waghorn

A quick guide to intranet software tools

So, you’re looking for simple intranet software, but where to begin? Well, it all boils down to your organisation’s ambitions. Any proposed new intranet solution should align with your strategic goals and be sympathetic to how your business operates.

Okay, this might seem blindingly obvious, but we often encounter organisations that go shopping for software without any accord in their team on their vision for an intranet.   

Keeping your strategy front and centre will make it easier for you to identify what business tools are non-negotiable, and the nice to haves. Do you want to improve internal communication and make your employees feel more connected? Maybe you want to transform how your people communicate and collaborate? Or perhaps you’d like an easier way to share files, especially in this era of remote working.  

Here, we take a quick tour of some of the common, and not so common, intranet software you’ll encounter. And we give you a few pointers so that you can ask your potential provider the right questions and don’t burn time and money on a system destined to flop.   

Intranet core features

When you check any intranet comparison site, you’ll find that most intranet software providers offer these features as standard: 

  • Activity/News Feed
  • Discussions/Forums
  • Content search 
  • Blogs
  • Calendar Management
  • Policy Management
  • Content Management

Of course, their look and feel – and level of sophistication – will vary hugely but you can use them as a benchmark for reviewing potential intranet systems. 

Feature-rich intranets

In a crowded marketplace, you’ll encounter a dizzying array of bells and whistles as intranet providers jostle to differentiate their products.

Much like chocolate bars near supermarket tills, it can be tempting to add them to your basket, so always keep your core objectives in mind. Unless there’s a compelling use case for a particular feature, you may introduce more complexity than you need or end up paying for stuff you won’t use.

So, with this in mind, let’s take a quick spin of other intranet options you’ll come across, and you can be the judge of their relevance and value to your organisation:   

Intranet CapabilitiesIntranet ResourcesIntranet Software Tools and Functionality 
Customisable – extending beyond mere brandingPre-built templates  Targeted content, e.g., for different job roles and locations 
Cloud-based – can be consumed from anywhereDrag and drop page buildersReal-time push notifications and alerts / broadcast critical information   
Lives in your cloud environment/Office 365 tenant – no access / traffic (in either direction) by vendor.Workflow-enabled self-serve forms (e.g., for purchase orders or HR requests)Project management and task management
On-premise intranet software Knowledge base / unified corporate library  User analytics and reports
Device agnostic; can be accessed from any device, including mobiles Learning zone, admin, and user trainingSocial media feeds  
Native integration with proprietary solutions, like Microsoft 365People directories and org charts  Social elements – emojis, reactions, gifs
Integration with third-party apps and line of business systemsLanguage translationFile sharing and document management  
ScalableSurveys and pollingSupports multi-lingual content
Identity and access management, security controls, data backups Content tags, bookmarks, and information categorisation  
  Gamification
  Event management
  Supports other content mediums, like videos and podcasts
  People search
  Employee profile and home page / dashboard personalisation
  Holiday management  
  What’s new? Updates on stuff missed

Do you want to go it alone, or work with a partner?

Are you confident flying solo with off-the-shelf, simple intranet software? Or do you want to engage with subject-matter experts who will help you achieve your long-term goals?

Some providers will help you with implementation, and quite possibly user adoption, but then you’re left to get on with it.

Be realistic about the expertise and resources you can draw from in-house. Do you have the technical capabilities and intranet success know-how to guarantee the longevity of your investment?  If not, an internal comms and intranet specialist who parachutes in once a month could prove a wise investment.

Support with your intranet

What level of support do you get, and what flavour is it? For example, set up, change management and technical support. You might also have the option of a dedicated account manager or client success manager.

Speed of deployment

Will your intranet be deployed in a matter of weeks or months?

Your sector

Does the provider get your sector and have clients in your industry to show for it?

Intranet costs

How are the costs of the intranet software structured? Is it a flat annual fee or monthly subscription? Is there a pricing scale determined by user numbers? As they say, the devil is in the detail, so be clear on what’s included and what you might have to pay extra for.   

Wrapping up

We hope this helped with some of your thinking, but there is a broader, more fundamental question. What do you want your intranet to be? Are you okay with a largely stand-alone system, or do you want to embed it as the beating heart of your organisation, connected to every artery?  

There’s a world of difference between, for example, an on-premise intranet solution and a cloud- enabled intranet which is the gateway to a modern, digital workplace. So, paint your big picture and be sure you’re joined up with your stakeholders before getting into the nitty-gritty.

Click here to book a demo of our Fresh intranet, or here if you’d like some friendly advice

Thanks for reading.

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