Getting started on an intranet deployment project can be hard. With so many intranet software options and providers to choose from, it’s a confusing and daunting task for anyone. And if you’re not all that confident with technology, then it can be an even more challenging prospect.
And so, if you’ve been charged with deploying an intranet for your business, or perhaps you are looking to upgrade an existing intranet, then this handy intranet software evaluation checklist will be an essential companion.
We will take you through all the issues you need to think about using easy to understand, everyday language. And at the end, we summarize all the things you need to address in a handy checklist so you can tick off all the important issues as you go along and be confident that you haven’t missed anything.
Let’s get started though with a definition of intranet software so we can be clear about what it means.
What Is Intranet Software?
Intranet software is software that allows businesses to develop a private, secure portal that can only be accessed by internal employees.
Intranet software enables businesses to maximize operational efficiencies because in a single platform it contains all the tools staff members need to get the job done. Also a great enabler of internal communications, many companies are using their intranet solution to facilitate joint working and collaboration across teams.
What Are The Different Types Of Intranet Software?
There are several options open to you. Below we examine each one in detail.
Custom Build Intranet Software
Some larger companies with a dedicated internal IT resource have gone down the route of developing a bespoke intranet from scratch, hosted on the company server. While such an option ensures the intranet is a perfect match for your operational needs, it’s not for the faint-hearted. You see, developing a custom build intranet from scratch requires a considerable investment of time and resources which are beyond most companies.
Off-the-shelf Intranet Software
With this option, you download or use software such as Microsoft’s SharePoint from the internet and then create your own intranet which is hosted on the company server. This option may be tempting for lots of companies as often the intranet software is free to download and is readily accessible. And if you already have a company server, then it’s even more appealing.
There are, however, some drawbacks to be considered before you jump in with this option. Although readily accessible and free, these types of intranet solutions can be quite complex and require considerable technical expertise. What’s more, the free core offering often needs to be supplemented by plug-ins and add-ons to achieve the functionality you require. As well as adding to the complexity, these extras can cost so that the ‘free’ intranet software soon becomes an entirely different beast.
Perhaps the biggest issue of all though is that these intranet solutions, although capable of developing an intranet, have not been created with that specific purpose in mind. WordPress, for instance, was primarily developed as a blogging or web development tool.
Cloud Intranet Software
Hosted in the cloud by dedicated intranet providers, with this option businesses can customize pre-built intranet templates to create their own, unique intranet site. Cloud intranet software is a great choice for those who may be less confident with new technology as it is intuitive to use and super easy to set up. What’s more, unlike the other options we’ve looked at, the cloud intranet provider retains responsibility for backups, updates and ongoing security. So, that’s definitely one potential major headache taken care of for you.
However, perhaps the major benefit cloud intranet software presents is in its flexibility. Hosting intranet software in the cloud means that all the great tools and features can be accessed 24/7 from any location via an internet connection. In today’s flexible workplaces, this is a significant advantage.
Which Type Of Intranet Software Is Best For My Business?
Armed with a better understanding of the different types of intranet software available in the market, let’s now turn our attention to what you want your intranet to achieve.
For most businesses, there is some issue or pain point that has arisen which has sparked an interest in intranets as the solution. Often it’s an identified weakness in internal communications. Maybe it’s a desire to break down information silos and encourage better joint working. For others, it’s a realization that employee engagement needs to be improved. Or perhaps the driving force is the need to find efficiencies in operations with automated workflow processes. Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you set clear aims and objectives for your intranet from the start. This will make the process of matching and selecting the best intranet software for your company a much easier task.
As an organization, it’s worthwhile spending time determining what the priorities are for your intranet. One way to do this is to conduct an intranet needs analysis. Ask staff for their views on what information and tools an intranet needs to have. Supplement this with more detailed consultation with a series of focus groups. Or why not consider undertaking a task analysis to really dig down into how staff are currently completing work processes in your business.
And for those companies that perhaps only have a handful of staff, then consider holding a brainstorming session with colleagues. Use their collective wisdom to examine how an intranet could support efficient and effective working within the business.
To help you get started on an intranet needs analysis, in the sections that follow we identify some of the common issues faced by different types of businesses. After all, being clear about what your needs are will help you identify the right intranet software for you.
Intranet Software For Startups And Small Businesses
Cost will be an important consideration for these types of businesses. With limited finances, a cost-effective solution is top of the list of requirements. In addition, having a small number of employees means that there is a limited amount of internal resources available. Therefore, these businesses will also be looking for an intranet solution that is quick and easy to set up and manage on an ongoing basis.
When it comes to pain points an intranet needs to address, the number one priority is often connecting with remote workers. Many startups and small businesses utilize the services of a virtual team of remote workers and freelancers. And so team communications and staying connected can be a challenge. For these types of companies, intranet software that promotes internal communications, connects employees in a social intranet and that can be accessed remotely will be essential.
What’s more, these businesses will be looking for a solution that is flexible and adaptable and can grow alongside the company. Investing in a technological solution is a big deal for startups and small businesses and they will want a platform that they can stick with in the long term.
Intranet Software For Larger Businesses And Corporates
For larger companies and big corporates, it’s often information needs that tops the list of pain points. Managing and sharing information across several layers and many teams, departments and even office locations has its challenges. These types of companies will be looking for intranet software that streamlines and facilitates the sharing of complex information and data streams.
Another potential pain point as organizations grow is the management of business processes. Reporting requirements, compliance recording and simply getting everyday things done, such as ordering supplies and equipment or even managing holiday requests from staff, requires an enormous amount of form filling and paperwork. And often these business processes are being completed via cumbersome paper- or email-based systems. The potential for important documentation to get lost or for errors to creep in is huge. Intranet software that can automate these businesses processes making for quicker and more accurate transactions will be of great interest to these types of companies.
Employee engagement is also another potential pain point for larger companies and corporates. With hundreds or even thousands of employees perhaps located in different towns and states, promoting a common company culture as well as maintaining employee engagement is often a real challenge. These types of businesses will be looking for intranet software that supports employee engagement with features such as company and team news pages or blogs, employee self-service, staff directories and profiles as well as a survey functionality.
Intranet Software Evaluation Checklist
So, you now have an appreciation of the different types of software that are available. And you also have a detailed understanding of what you want your intranet to achieve. It’s time to move on to the next stage of the deployment process.
The following handy checklist will enable you to quickly and easily compare different intranet solutions and providers and will help you make a final decision. The simple tick-box type format means that you can see at a glance which intranet software option is a match for your business.
Intranet Software Evaluation Checklist
|Intranet Software Option 1||Intranet Software Option 2||Intranet Software Option 3||Intranet Software Option 4|
|Is the price all-inclusive?|
|Is it fixed?|
|Does it include ongoing support?|
|Set Up||Is the intranet software easy to use?|
|Can you easily set up the intranet without any great technical knowledge?|
|Is there help and support readily available?|
|Is the intranet software customizable with your own brand?|
|Does the intranet software utilize pre-built intranet templates?|
|Ongoing Management||Can you easily add and delete users?|
|Is it possible to set up permission rights and restrict access to sensitive information?|
|Is it a straightforward process to create, edit and delete content, images and videos?|
|Modules & Business Tools||Does the intranet software have the right mix of tools & features to address the needs of your business?|
|Are the modules and business tools inclusive or will you need additional plugins?|
|Can you use the intranet software to create customized automated workflow processes?|
|Can you bulk upload and download documents and data?|
|Is it possible to share documents and files internally and externally?|
|Does the intranet software allow for collaboration and joint working across the business?|
|Are social intranet features inclusive with the software?|
|Are news pages and blogs an integral feature of the intranet software?|
|Does the intranet software incorporate features that will enhance employee engagement?|
|Security||Is the provider responsible for ensuring the security of company data on the intranet?|
|Does the intranet software incorporate advanced security features such as SSL?|
|Are you able to securely share files and information internally and externally?|
|Mobile Access||Can the intranet be accessed remotely?|
|Is the intranet software mobile responsive?|
|How well does the intranet software perform on smartphones and tablets?|
|Fit For Purpose||Is the intranet software fit for purpose in your business?|
Intranet Software: Fit For Purpose
The bottom line is indeed whether the intranet software is fit for the purpose you intend within your business. And this intranet deployment checklist will help you make that assessment.
For some larger organizations with unlimited resources and a dedicated internal IT team, then a custom build intranet may be a feasible option. And for others, creating your own intranet with off-the-shelf intranet software may well be the way to go.
However, for the majority of businesses – both large and small – cloud intranet software will tick all the boxes we have identified above. The truth is in terms of simplicity, ease of use and ongoing management, cloud intranet software is hard to beat. With comprehensive functionality, it also offers flexibility and adaptability as features and tools can be swapped in or out, designs can be customized to your branding and the platform can grow alongside your business.
For most businesses cloud intranet software will most definitely be fit for purpose and will, in fact, deliver so much more. Interested in exploring the possibilities? Get in touch with us here at MyHub and take a no-obligation tour of our cloud intranet software.