The What, Why and How on Intranet Software
Intranet Software – 101 Guide
Evaluating intranet software needn’t be as daunting as you might think. True, there is research, planning and decisions to be made. But a well-designed and managed intranet can deliver spectacular results.
Here we address the most popular questions to help smooth the way, and get you started on the right track.
What Is Intranet Software?
Intranet software is used to create a private, secure network for employees to access and retrieve important company information.
At a basic level, it helps solve common business problems associated with:
1) employee communication
2) managing information
3) staff collaboration
4) business processes
Using intranet software, a company can develop its own internal website featuring a content management system. This serves as a central information hub for staff, which can be accessed 24/7. It typically has a company-branded home page that links to a variety of sub-pages featuring a wide range of resources to help inform employees.
Over the years, this category of software has undergone a major upgrade, in both purpose, functionality, and appearance. It has reinvented itself from being a costly, custom-built, document management portal (located on-premise), to a dynamic and affordable, cloud-based gateway where staff can collaborate, share ideas and engage.
These days, it includes many features and communication tools designed to lift company performance.
Most intranet solutions include a blend of the following tools:
- people directory
- activity/news feed
- discussion forums
- document management
- knowledge management
- policy and processes management
- instant messaging / chat
- file storage
Increased data connectivity combined with a surge in mobile-enabled devices has helped the use and popularity of business and mobile intranets. Staff are able to access important resources from anywhere, at any time.
What Are The Benefits Of Intranet Software?
There are many benefits associated with having a company intranet. At a high level, these include improved internal communications; fluid knowledge-sharing and improved team collaboration. Combined, these benefits deliver a positive employee experience which can increase engagement, staff loyalty and overall company performance.
At a deeper level, benefits include:
- Efficient onboarding of employees; great first impressions
- Everything is kept in one place; no confusion
- Important or critical information can be easily broadcast
- Staff are better connected, regardless of their location
- Internal practices are streamlined
- Audit trails are in place for version control
- Email traffic is reduced
- Compliance and regulatory practices adhered to
- Staff learning is made easier
What Is Intranet Software Used For?
Primarily, intranet software is used to share company information in a secure, all-in-one environment.
For example, an employee who is off-site can still access important policies and procedures, company intelligence, and workflows. This can be especially useful for construction, healthcare, educational, professional services and NGO organizations.
Common uses for intranet software include:
- knowledge management
- engaging employees
- training new staff
- news updates
- company blogs
- digital storage for documents, templates and presentations
- real-time communications
- workflows and automation
What Is An Example of An Intranet?
Microsoft Sharepoint used to be the market leader in this category. This was when intranets were deemed only useful (and affordable) for large corporates. However, in the last 10 – 20 years, companies of all sizes and industries have recognized the value an intranet offers.
Challenges such as knowledge management, internal communications and team collaboration are rife across every sector and every size business. As such, there’s been an explosion in intranet vendors. These providers range greatly in price, feature set and functionality.
MyHub’s intranet solution has been used across a wide variety of businesses. Here’s one example featuring news, forums, social content and a survey, all housed under one intranet platform.
On average, employees waste a third of their day looking for information
What’s The Role Of Intranet Software Within A Digital Workplace?
The digital workplace is a term that’s used to describe the relatively new concept of aligning technology, employees and business processes.
It encompasses all the digital resources staff use to do their job. In part, this has driven by the rise in business apps such as Slack, Yammer, and Workplace, as well as customer relationship management apps such as Salesforce and Hubspot.
Combined with the power of intranet software, these apps have improved communication and staff collaboration way beyond what the humble email could achieve.
As such, intranet software is at the heart of a digital strategy. It is seen as the glue that unites a company’s key business tools and applications, allowing staff to access all their applications under one umbrella, using a single sign-on.
How Is Employee Engagement Affected By Intranet Software?
Experts agree that employee engagement can drive business success. In fact, highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability according to Gallup.
Staff feel more emotionally-invested in their job if they feel connected, valued, and involved. Here’s how:
Recently, there’s been a shift in how staff engage. They prefer self-service experiences and expect everything to be personalized to them. Instant gratification with minimal effort is what gets cut through. The intranet has a role to play here.
Raising engagement levels – and sustaining them – is a long play, which takes commitment and creativity. Also important is investing in the right technology to underpin this ambition.
A well-managed intranet can support decision-making, learning goals, and a way for staff to contribute ideas and express their opinions.
Is There Such Thing As Free (or Open Source) Intranet Software?
There are a number of free software solutions that can potentially build a company intranet, of which WordPress and Drupal are probably the most recognized. However, these open-source platforms are not ‘out-of-the-box’ intranet solutions: they typically require significant customization, developer resource, along with (paid for) plug-ins before they add value. That’s where the hidden costs lie.
Security is also a major concern for open-source options, with many such intranets being easily hacked or broken.
Most businesses realize the value in ready-to-go intranet platforms, where the core features are built-in. These are typically supported by specialist intranet customer success teams, experienced at achieving the desired outcomes.
What Is Social Intranet Software?
A social intranet is the next evolution of the traditional intranet. It introduces exciting ways for teams and individuals to share information and collaborate.
Two-way communication is a major plus over its predecessor – which suffered criticism as being a static environment where top-down information was literally ‘pushed’ onto staff.
The new intranet breed is focused on providing a positive user experience (b2E) for the employee and comprises consumer-grade social features such as commenting, liking, Q&A, @mentions.
As per other popular social media apps – think Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat – social intranets also feature powerful tagging and search capability. Staff are empowered to post, update and comment on content. They can create and share multi-formatted information, including imagery and video, and take part in forums and blogs.
How To Choose The Best Intranet Software
When researching the best intranet software for your company, check the following:
- Ease of use – this will affect the adoption rate amongst staff, and is one of the biggest factors for long-term success. Check search functionality, navigation options and structure.
- Easy to manage – uploading content, targeting users, and reporting must be straightforward
- Integration with your other business applications – for example, synchronizing with an active directory, Salesforce, GSuite and other business-critical tools
- Flexible formats – YouTube videos, podcasts, infographics, and imagery are far more appealing to staff than walls of text and PDFs. Ensure your intranet can accommodate a variety of media.
- Two-way communication – making it easy for staff to participate is key. Check if your employee intranet has instant messaging; the ability for staff to like and comment on content; and to even create their own blogs and #channels.
- Analytics – you’ll want to know how your intranet is performing (or more importantly, if staff are engaging). Data insights that show high and low-performing content, key internal influencers, and employees who are not consuming content can all help improve your intranet.
- Customer Support – as with any new software, getting to grips with your new intranet software may take some trial and error. Ensure your chosen vendor has a good track record. Check if it’s real human support or bot-based. Ask for references.
- Budget – prices vary enormously, with many intranet providers targeting enterprise markets. Check the small print as to whether prices are per user, or capped, and if there’s file storage restrictions. Check which features are included in the standard package.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to compare intranet solutions is to book a demo with each provider.
Have a wish-list of the key requirements you need, and ask for a walk-through on how content across different modules is published. This will uncover how easy the cms system is to use, and what the interface is like.
Intranet Software Case Studies
Legal firm Turnbill Hill Lawyers created a custom-built solution using MyHub intranet software. It provides a central knowledge management portal for staff. Content includes correct internal procedures, policies and the latest training support materials.
Moreover, its automation functionality has enabled key yet monotonous tasks such as staff expense reimbursements to be processed quickly and easily. Read the legal firm’s intranet case study here. Other popular intranet uses that law firms similar to Turnbull Hill have built-in as part of a project’s workflow include conflict of interest checks and approval processes.
Professional services provider, Sass, uses its intranet as an extranet solution. Its main purpose is to share information with its clients, saving staff time and the need to repeat instructions. Read the case study here.
Is There Intranet Software For Non-Technical People?
MyHub Intranet Software has been designed for the non-technical buyer.
It requires no coding skills or IT experience.
Being cloud-hosted gives companies peace of mind about future-proofing their intranet investment. New product features and enhancements are applied automatically as soon as they’re released.
MyHub is simple to set-up – and fun to use!
Useful Resources For Learning More About Intranet Software
MyHub has developed a range of free resources to help businesses create the best intranet.
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