Create An Intranet
“Create an intranet,” they said. “How hard can it be?” they said. Creating a company intranet is a great way to improve communication within the company, increase employee engagement, and enhance employees’ feeling of connection to one another and to the company as a whole. It’s a great way to make it easier for your employees to access important documents, whether they’re within the office or on the go. Creating an intranet makes it easier for employees who are out of the office to get what they need, whether it’s staying on top of important announcements and company-wide happenings or accessing information that would otherwise require a phone call or an email. Unfortunately, there are a number of challenges that may crop up along the way. Being prepared for those challenges will make it easier to complete your intranet project.
Challenge 1: Selecting Intranet Features that Encompass Everyone’s Needs
When you create an intranet, it’s important to select features that will fit the needs of everyone within your company. Before you begin, whether you’re custom-designing your intranet from scratch or selecting from already-created software available from an intranet firm, make sure that you have a strong understanding of what is needed by everyone who will be using the intranet. Take the time to sit down with the heads of each individual department. Ask them to list the features that will make their jobs easier. For example, your human resources department might like a “quick links” section that will allow employees to easily access frequently-requested documents or policies, while your communications department might be more focused on a forum that will allow free communication between all employees. Real-time activity feeds and interactive tools are also frequently-requested features.
Challenge 2: Avoiding Excessive Bells and Whistles
The flip side to choosing features that will encompass everyone’s needs? Selecting too many features, or features that will slow down your employees’ day and their productivity instead of improving it. The difference between a vital app that will make a huge difference in your business’s productivity and a feature that is just in the way? Your business’s unique needs. While there are some features that are simply unnecessary for most intranet users, there are many features whose usefulness will be determined based on your needs. Make sure that you weed out these unnecessary features as you’re creating your intranet. Remember, the more features and apps you have, the more maintenance they’ll require.
Challenge 3: Lack of Employee Engagement
Your intranet project hinges on one thing: whether or not your employees actually use it. Your intranet needs to be designed with employee accessibility and engagement at the forefront of your plans. Include features that you know will interest your employees and keep bringing them to use your new system. Most specifically, make sure that it’s easier to use the intranet than it is for employees to return to the “old way” of doing things. If it’s easier, for example, to look up a document in a filing cabinet than it is to access it over the intranet, chances are excellent that your employees won’t bother with the intranet. Nothing is going to replace your existing email communication for ease of transmitting information to as many employees as possible, but you can design your forums to make it easier for everyone to see and comment on discussions, announcements, and projects.
To help make it easier to design your intranet based on the needs of your employees, make sure you include them in the process. This is particularly critical in the testing phase prior to launching the intranet to the business as a whole, when employees can check out the intranet and make suggestions that will help make it more user-friendly, but should also be incorporated throughout the process of designing the system. The employees within the business are the best judge of what they will actually use on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to incorporate employees from several different departments to receive the best advice.
Challenge 4: Hidden Costs
If you’re planning to design your intranet from scratch, you may quickly discover that the costs add up faster than you think. Each app or feature is additional time spent in development, and that time often costs more than you think. Not only that, there’s equipment to be added, maintenance costs once it’s up and running, and a tech team that has to be trained to run it. The easy answer to hidden costs, which can stall your intranet creation and leave you with a half-finished project if the budget runs out at the wrong moment? Consider cloud-based intranet, which often has much clearer costs available both up front and throughout the lifespan of your intranet project. While you will continue to pay for access to your intranet regularly, you’ll know going in how much it’s going to cost.
Challenge 5: Planning for Expansion
Your intranet needs to last for the lifespan of your business. You don’t want to have to start over from scratch if you experience unanticipated expansion! Instead, prepare your intranet to grow with your business from the beginning. Cloud-based intranet makes that easy: when you sign on with a cloud provider, growing your intranet is as easy as making a phone call. If you’re building your system from scratch, on the other hand, you’ll need to make allowances for growth in your plans, including planning for additional server space and IT employees to help manage that growth.
Challenge 6: Controlling Access
When you need different features for different departments within your business, your intranet can quickly become unwieldy and hard to navigate. Controlling access based on job title or management level–or, in a smaller business, controlling access by individual–can go a long way toward making it easier for each member of your team to access exactly the information they need without being distracted by features or apps that they don’t require in order to adequately do their job. Controlled access can also help separate out confidential information or prevent lower-level employees from accessing information they shouldn’t have.
Challenge 7: Managing Your Intranet
When you create an intranet, your responsibilities don’t end with its deployment. Someone has to manage the features and the information provided to employees through the intranet as well as providing maintenance when something doesn’t go according to plan. Before deploying your intranet, it’s important to decide who within your company will take on this responsibility. It might be your IT department, Human Resources, or your communications department–or you might select someone within your company on your own. Whoever it is, be sure that they’re aware of their changing responsibilities and know what will be expected of them before the intranet is deployed. It can be helpful to allow this individual or department to be responsible for deciding on features and working with the new intranet system during the trial period in order to help them gain a greater understanding of their future responsibilities.
Despite all the challenges associated with intranet creation, there are a number of benefits to designing an intranet for your business. If you’re ready to create an intranet for your business, consider signing up for a free MyHub Intranet trial. We’ll work with you to decide on the features that will work best for your company and create an effective intranet solution that will enhance communication and employee engagement within your company without creating more problems that you’ll have to deal with down the road.