An intranet is an intranet, right? Not so. There are tonnes of intranet products out there offering an array of functionalities, features, bells, and whistles. So, identifying and documenting the challenges you’re currently facing with your existing (or non-existent) intranet, along with deciding what you want your intranet to do, is the first step to achieving your intranet goals.
Deciding what you want your intranet to do will help you narrow down your focus when looking for a new solution.
+ Improve Communication
Perhaps your primary goal is to provide employees with a single place to find content. You want to empower employees to create and manage content as well as reduce IT’s involvement in content management. Your aim is to bring content to where employees are – within Teams, on mobile, on screens.
+ Enhance employee equity, inclusion, and collaboration
Maybe your goal is to have a platform that provides collaboration areas and connects employees to knowledge, teams, and projects. You also want to make information easy to access for all employees (hybrid and field workers).
+ Increase productivity
It could be that your top priority is to encourage knowledge sharing and finding expertise with a joined-up people directory or more integrated search. You want to connect employees to content faster with targeting and personalisation.
+ Create a culture & engagement
Or perhaps developing cross organisational communities is your number one goal. You want to help employees to make connections and create a sense of community.
Regardless of where your focus lies, you should look for an intranet platform that aligns with your organisation’s strategic goals and ambitions.
So, keep these front and centre when comparing what’s out there. This will make it easier for you to identify what intranet tools and features are non-negotiable, and which are the nice to haves.
There are several non-negotiables when it comes to choosing a new intranet product. For example, if your organisation’s IT strategy is fundamentally aligned to Microsoft, you should rule out any solutions that aren’t built on top of SharePoint or in the Microsoft 365 arena.
In addition, you need to ensure the solution meets the following criteria:
Employee-first – so you can reach your organisation’s employees wherever they’re working.
Cloud-based – so you have the freedom and agility to manage your internal comms wherever you are, too.
Fast – so it allows for real-time comms. No one wants to wait to get their message across.
Analytics – so you can measure levels of engagement and monitor the success of your employee communications.
Modern – everyone’s accustomed to instant messaging and emojis in their personal lives using social media, so it’s important your intranet emulates this.
Targeted – as different job roles or demographics need separate and distinct messaging; your chosen platform should allow you to push comms to specific categories of employees.
Regularly updated – so your organisation can benefit from the latest, most secure technology.
What else to look for in an intranet solution
Adding to these, there are a number of non-functional elements you’ll need to consider, which your IT team should help you to evaluate.
Non-functional elements of an intranet
Look for a cloud-based intranet solution that sits your cloud environment or Microsoft 365 tenant. This means you have complete control over your tenant and the vendor will have no access to it.
Make sure your chosen intranet is secure. Check identity and access management, security controls, and data backups.
Can your new intranet access data from proprietary solutions, third-party apps, and line of business systems? This is key to having a modern, joined up intranet solution.
+ Device agnostic
Will your intranet content be accessible from any device, including mobile? Look for a solution that ensures you have the flexibility to connect with employees regardless of the device they’re on or location they’re accessing it on.
+ After care
What support or success options are being provided by your chosen vendor? The support you need once your intranet is up and running will depend on your in-house IT resource. Double check this before signing up [link to blog two for an in-house IT check-list].
Functional elements of an intranet
Many intranet solutions offer an array of functional features which, broadly speaking, fall into the following categories:
+ Content production and management
Tools to help you to publish content on your intranet in the most effective and efficient way which includes content customisation, event management, templates and reusable components, analytics, content tags, bookmarks, and information categorisation.
+ Employee communication and collaboration tools
Tools will help your employees collaborate and communicate effectively from people directories, employee profile and dashboard personalisation, to holiday management, file sharing and document management.
+ Employee engagement tools
Tools that will keep your employees coming back to the intranet and engaging with colleagues, which include social elements (emojis, reactions, gifs), social media feeds, gamification, surveys and polling.
Go back and look at the challenges you’re facing with your current platform (if you have one), alongside your strategic goals and ambitions of your company, to choose which features are must-haves, which are nice to haves.
To find out about comparing and evaluating the products on the market, plus additional resources, such as how to document your current challenges, survey your employees, and additional tips, tricks and templates, download our free eBook on Building a business case for a new intranet.