If you’re looking for a new intranet solution for your business, chances are, it hasn’t taken you long to figure out how overwhelming all the options currently on the market can be. You want the easiest intranet option available without adding on excessive expenses, but you also want to know that you’re getting all the features you need to make this system work for your company. How do you know that you’re really getting the system that will work best for you?
Sit down with all the different departments who will need to use the system on a regular basis. Then, discuss the features that everyone is looking for in the final system. Ideally, you want to be able to customize your intranet so that it will have all the features that you need without clunky additions that will slow it down, distract your workers, or create problems down the line. Discuss the features that would be “nice,” but that you can live without, and rank them in order of desirability. For example, do you want an internal search engine that will rank articles and other items based on how useful they are to your employees? Is it highly important that your company have document storage and collaboration options so that you can share documents across multiple users and workstations at the same time? Make sure that you understand the features that you need, then choose an intranet option that will allow you to customize it according to those preferences.
Not only that, you’ll need to decide how much you want to be able to customize the look and feel of the intranet to your company. Is it important that you be able to use your logo? What about choosing your own colors, headers, and other information? The actual appearance of your intranet should be just as much your choice as the other content.
Easiest Intranet Security
Different users in your organization have different security privileges. You want to be able to easily control how much access each employee has to vital information within your company without preventing them from reaching the information they do need in order to do their jobs to the best of their ability. When you choose an intranet provider, you want to know that you’re getting a service that will allow you to design it according to your unique security needs. Chances are, you want to be able to set site permissions according to job roles, manage users efficiently and effectively, and maintain internal security so that no one from the outside is able to break in and get access to your internal data.
Administrative Ease of Use vs. Everyday User Ease of Use
Admins have all the privileges. They’re the ones who are able to make changes, follow the activities of all of the other users, and determine what information is visible to everyone. They’re also among the busiest users in the building and that means that your intranet solution needs to be as easy for them to use as possible. Look over your options to see whether administrative tools are simple to use and new operations are easy to put into practice, or if it like WordPress and Sharepoint is difficult or unwieldy to master.
Everyday users, on the other hand, are probably going to be spending a lot more time actively using the system at least as long as it’s easy to manage. If it’s complicated, too complex, or provides too little information on how to handle the system, chances are, your employees will never get the hang of integrating it into their daily tasks. Look for an approach that is streamlined, simple, and easy to navigate. Familiarity is key: does your platform have an intuitive design similar to other services that your employees are already using? If so, they’ll be more likely to use it successfully.
Support and Services
What does your existing IT department look like? Chances are, they already have more than enough on their plate. Instead of piling still more on top of them, consider choosing an intranet provider with cloud-based services, removing the need for your internal IT staff to deal with any problems that might arise. Sharepoint, for example, is a highly complex service. It’s hard to set up and hard to manage. It’s been described as a service that’s “able to do anything, but nothing of them particularly well.” It requires a great deal of time, energy, and expertise with the system in order to get it up and running efficiently and that means that it’s not making your business run more smoothly or satisfactorily improving your internal communications in the process. WordPress, too, has its issues: it requires updates on a regular basis, and if you don’t have anyone with the experience to install them, you may be floundering around blind! Instead, choose an intranet solution that puts its customer first. Cloud technology is a wonderful way to ensure that you’re getting the product you need without needing to further overload your poor, overworked IT team.
Not only that, check into the technical support offered by the company. Even with the best piece of software, things occasionally go wrong. Does the intranet provider you’re considering offer the services you need in order to get things back up and running smoothly when you have an issue? Are you relegated to walking through technical support manuals on their website in the hope that you’ll be able to figure out the issue, or do they provide the support you need as quickly as possible? Better yet, do you get to talk to a live person who has the skills and experience to resolve your issue? Sometimes, a short phone conversation is all that’s needed to fix a serious problem, but you’ll never know that if you can’t work with a technical support team that will help get things back in line. Make sure that you fully understand exactly what technical support is included along with your intranet services in order to be sure your business is getting everything it needs.
Trying It Out
Only in the business world are you expected to make expensive purchases without a chance to test-drive the equipment. You probably wouldn’t buy a car without taking it out for a spin first. Why would you purchase an intranet solution for your company without having the chance to use it beforehand? Ideally, you want to work with a company that will allow you to try a free demo for your company before you dive in. Look for a company that will come in and set it up for you, preferably along with a crash course in how to make it work for your company, and allow you to use it (even a modified or limited version of it) so that you can see whether or not it will actually work for your company. You want a chance to kick the tires, do a few donuts in the parking lot, and make sure that it really is up to everything that their company claims.