Intranet Solutions | How To Solve The 3 Biggest Intranet Problems
Choosing the right intranet solutions for your business
In the digital age, intranet solutions have become a cornerstone for fostering internal communication and collaboration within organizations. These digital platforms serve as the central nervous system of a company, providing a secure and efficient means for employees to share information, manage documents, and work collectively on projects.
Out of all the intranet solutions for small businesses to enterprise level organizations available today, selecting the right one for your business is a pivotal decision that can significantly influence its success and the level of adoption within a company. The process begins with a thorough assessment of business needs, which entails identifying the key challenges and requirements specific to the organization’s operational context, and involving stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive understanding of these needs. This collaborative approach is crucial as it garners insights from different facets of the company, leading to a more informed decision-making process. The next step involves a meticulous comparison of different intranet platforms, where features, scalability, and user feedback are evaluated to determine how well they align with the identified business needs. Additionally, a careful analysis of the total cost of ownership and the potential return on investment is essential, as these factors will have long-term financial implications for the company. By addressing both the functional and financial aspects of the intranet software solutions, businesses can select a platform that not only meets their immediate requirements but also supports their growth and evolution over time.
There are a few common problems that we see when working with our clients, whether a company is using one of the best intranet solutions on the market or if they’ve got one that’s ten years old.
Before we discuss these common problems, let’s break down the intranet basics first.
Understanding intranet solutions
The history and evolution of intranet systems have seen a remarkable transformation from their inception as basic networked systems designed for simple internal communication to becoming comprehensive digital workplaces that are integral to the operational infrastructure of modern businesses. Initially, intranets were housed on on-premise servers, requiring substantial investment in hardware and IT resources. However, there has been a significant shift towards cloud-based solutions, which offer greater scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, allowing organizations of all sizes to leverage the power of intranets without the need for extensive physical infrastructure. Today’s intranet software solutions are characterized by their basic components that streamline internal workflows, but also fostered a more connected and productive workplace environment.
Intranet solutions for small businesses versus enterprises
When comparing intranet solutions for small businesses versus enterprises, the scale and complexity of the organization’s needs play a pivotal role in determining the right fit. Intranet solutions for small businesses are often cost-effective, easy to deploy, and require minimal customization. Small business intranet solutions also tend to prioritize user-friendly interfaces, straightforward collaboration tools, and basic document management systems that support their agility and foster direct communication. On the other hand, enterprises demand intranet solutions that can handle a larger scale of operations, more complex security requirements, and a diverse array of integrations with existing enterprise systems. These solutions must offer extensive customization to align with varied departmental needs, advanced document management capabilities, and robust scalability to accommodate a growing number of users and complex organizational structures.
##Key features of effective intranet solutions
Effective intranet software solutions distinguish themselves through key features that not only enhance the user experience but also bolster business processes. At the forefront is the user interface and experience, which prioritizes intuitive design and navigation, personalized dashboards for individual users, and ensures accessibility across various devices and platforms, making the intranet a versatile tool for the modern workforce.
Collaboration is facilitated by tools that allow for real-time document editing and sharing, dedicated project management workspaces, and social networking features that integrate seamlessly into the work environment.
Document management is another pillar, with secure storage, easy retrieval, version control, and audit trails ensuring that documents are both safe and well-organized, while also adhering to data protection regulations.
Customization and scalability of intranet software solutions are also crucial, allowing it to be tailored to the specific needs of a business, grow in tandem with it, and be flexible enough to accommodate a range of user roles and permissions.
Lastly, the intranet must have modern integration capabilities, providing a seamless connection with external applications and services, synchronizing with enterprise systems like CRMs and ERPs, and offering a unified search across all platforms.
Let’s look at three different considerations for creating effective intranet solutions:
Intranet Solution 1: Make it Mobile
According to StatCounter, mobile usage overtook desktop usage worldwide in October of 2016. Mobile usage has continued to rise, and employees expect to be able to use their phones to access information. If your intranet is several years old, mobile probably wasn’t a priority when it was built. For clients who are not ready to build new intranet solutions, we’re often asked to create mobile and responsive templates to update their existing systems.
However, mobile may not be your only issue. What we’ve learned while working with over 200 companies, is that most will wait 7-10 years before they consider replacing their intranet. Intranets need regular maintenance and upgrades to keep them usable and useful over many years. While we know that building new intranet solutions is a substantial investment in both time and money; we also know that when presented with a slow, buggy interface, employees will avoid using it.
Be sure to have a regular maintenance plan for your existing intranet and budget resources for a replacement when advances in technology make it necessary.
Intranet Solution 2: Put Someone’s Name On It
There is a saying in journalism, “Names make news.” The same is true for intranets. Someone has to own the intranet (or a piece of it) personally for optimal success.
Imagine an employee wading through old documents on the company intranet, looking for the vacation policy. They click through a couple of outdated documents before giving up and emailing HR. This sets the expectation that the intranet is a waste of their time.
Buy-in doesn’t start on the consumption side but on the production side. What that means is, someone in the organization needs to be responsible for creating content for the intranet, managing that content, and curating it. We’ve found that it’s almost more important to delete old content than to create new content. According to a recent Gallup survey, only 32% of employees in the U.S. report being engaged at their workplace. Your company intranet is one touch point that can improve this metric when it’s used well.
In larger organizations, there may be a dedicated employee (or several) responsible for the content on the intranet. In smaller companies, it’s still important to have a person overseeing it even if that’s just for a few hours per month.
Intranet Solution 3: Training
You can encourage employees to use the intranet, but you can’t force them to. When you’re planning to launch a new intranet (or upgrade an existing one), you spend a lot of time designing it, planning the layout and structure, coding it, testing it, and getting it ready for launch. The big mistake that some people make is that they think they can announce the new intranet to all the employees and expect mass adoption. There needs to be a plan in place to onboard users and to show them the value of adopting the solution, which will ultimately help with getting buy-in. Nielsen Norman Group recommends identifying the employees who were most interested and engaged during the design phase of your intranet. These users can be advocates who encourage and help train colleagues to use the new site.
People who have been involved in the creation of any intranet solutions may forget that new users need training to use it effectively. The bulk of users will be read-only and may not require a lot of technical training, but some should be trained in content administration. They need to know not only how to add content, edit it, and remove it, but they also need to know when and why to do those things and what their responsibilities are. Users who are comfortable with the intranet and how it works will be more likely to use it.
This doesn’t stop at launch, don’t forget that new employees will need to be trained to use the intranet as well. Make intranet training part of the new employee onboarding process which will help new hires learn about the organization as well as set the expectation that the intranet is a relevant part of the company culture.
Best Practices for Managing an Intranet
Once your intranet is up and running, managing it effectively is crucial for maintaining its value to the organization.
- Establish clear policies for content creation, approval, and archiving.
- Assign content managers to oversee different sections of the intranet.
User Adoption Techniques
- Encourage user engagement by highlighting the intranet’s benefits and ease of use.
- Regularly update content and features to keep the intranet relevant and useful.
Security and Compliance
- Implement robust security measures to protect sensitive information.
- Ensure the intranet complies with relevant data protection laws and industry regulations.
Do you need help discovering intranet solutions?
Intranet solutions are more than just internal websites; they are dynamic, interactive tools that can transform how an organization operates. By following the guidelines and best practices outlined in this article, businesses can ensure that their intranet solutions are not only effective upon launch but continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of their workforce. As we look to the future, intranet solutions will undoubtedly become even more integrated into the fabric of our digital workplaces, continuing to enhance productivity and connectivity.
These are just three of the intranet problems that we see clients struggling with. If you have any other intranet issues that we haven’t addressed here, let us know. We’d be happy to help. Also if you wish to know about intranet design best practices to create an engaging digital workplace, contact us here.
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