The Best Intranet: Is There Such a Thing?

When you’re ready to deploy an intranet solution for your business, it’s only natural that you should want the best intranet possible. The first question you should ask yourself, however, is this: Is there such a thing as a “best intranet?” While there are obvious choices that are better than others, the ultimate determination of the best intranet solution for your company will be based on the unique needs of your business.

Choosing the Best Intranet: Where To Start

where-toChoosing the most suitable intranet for your business is a team effort. To start, sit down with the various departments who are going to be most engaged with the system and discuss the requirements of each one. What apps does each department find essential? Which ones can be left aside? Take the time to sit down and discuss what each department really needs in an intranet solution. Keep in mind that the requirements of one department might be vastly different from that of another, so it’s important to understand the differing needs of each department before you start shopping for your ideal intranet solution. The description of “best intranet” for each of your departments might vary, but when you work together, you can find a solution that will work for everyone. Undertaking a comprehensive intranet needs assessment will ensure that you fully understand your organization’s needs and so are in a much better position to find the best intranet solution to satisfy those needs.

Apps, Bells, And Whistles: The Best Intranet May Have Fewer Than You Think

When you first start looking into intranet solutions, your first reaction is excitement over each additional feature. After all, even the ones that you don’t need now might be useful later, right? Then there’s the fact that bells and whistles can in some cases make the intranet solution look better. Here’s the problem with bells and whistles: someone has to figure out how to use them. Installing them can slow down intranet deployment, and instituting company-wide use can slow down intranet adoption and create a higher learning curve. bells-and-whistlesYour goal with your intranet solution is to choose one that will make your business day flow more smoothly, not one that will add unnecessary complications. The intranet should provide all the apps you require without adding distractions.

As you sat down with the different teams in your business who will be using the intranet on a daily basis, you probably already have a good idea of which “bells and whistles” are important to each one. In developing your shared ideal solution, you probably also developed a scope for your intranet. Some businesses require a complex solution with 50 or more apps and plenty of “extras” that keep each department in their business running more smoothly. Others, on the other hand, prefer a simple system that is designed primarily to facilitate internal communication. Once you understand the inherent complexity you need, it can be easier to discard the extra apps and features for the simpler solution you’re really looking for.

The Best Intranet Is Maintained Your Way

How do you want to handle maintenance and IT for your intranet? Do you want it to be provided by an in-house team that’s always right down the hall or managed by a cloud computing company that’s worked with many other systems just like yours? There are positives and negatives to both solutions, and ultimately, your decision will probably rest on your business’s individual setup. Do you want an intranet that is managed by your marketing department or communications department with occasional support from the outside, or do you prefer that it be entirely managed in-house, with the responsibility for deployment, changes, and maintenance resting with your in-house team? Answering these questions up front is a critical part of your decision-making process.

You should also consider who within your organization will be responsible for running the intranet. Do you intend the responsibility to rest with your communications department? Your marketing department? Or do you prefer for your IT department to take care of all of those details? The most suitable intranet for your business will be one that’s easy for the team you place in charge to use.

Are You Looking For A Custom Intranet Or Out Of The Box?

out-of-the-boxSome businesses are perfectly content with an intranet whose only customization occurs as they add content and decide which apps they want. Others want an entirely bespoke solution that includes apps and tools that have been written and developed according to their specific needs. The best intranet for your office might not be the same as the one that works for your competitors, but that doesn’t mean that you automatically have to start from scratch with your design, either.

If you design your intranet from scratch, you will have more creative control from the very beginning. On the other hand, it’s going to take a lot more time to deploy and could even cost you more in the long run. When you need to have the programs, apps, and content all written from scratch, test them in a virtual environment, fine tune them and then finally deploy them for your business, it takes longer than an intranet solution that’s already proven that it can stand the test of time. Which intranet solution is best for your business? That depends on your company, your requirements, and your timeline.

Think About Your Hosting Requirements

Do you intend to build an intranet that is hosted locally, within your building or one that is hosted in the cloud? If you plan to host your intranet locally, you’ll need to add servers, bring in and/or train IT personnel to handle maintenance and troubleshooting, and be prepared to add regular maintenance costs to your intranet budget. You will, however, have full ownership of your intranet: there won’t be a recurring monthly fee, and you’ll never risk losing access to your data because your subscription expires.

data centerA cloud intranet is, overall, much more flexible for many office environments. It’s usually ready to deploy quickly, and if you need to expand, whether to account for growth within your business or to add apps and features that weren’t considered in the initial intranet solution, it doesn’t take long. You’ll pay monthly for access to a cloud-based intranet solution, but you’ll also have built-in IT support that will take care of you whenever problems arise.

The other great advantage of a cloud-hosted solution is that your intranet will be accessible 24/7 via a smartphone or tablet. This could be important if you have large numbers of telecommuters and freelancers, or many of your staff are out on the road a great deal perhaps working as salespeople or service technicians. A cloud intranet means that these staff can still log in to the intranet to remain productive and get the job done regardless of where they are physically located. In today’s modern workplace with increasing numbers of staff working flexibly and remotely this could be an important factor for determining the ideal intranet solution for your business. In fact, the latest research suggests that 70 percent of people globally work remotely at least once a week. And so, even if telecommuting is not really on your radar at the moment, the chances are that it soon will be, therefore, selecting an intranet option that is future proofed in this way could well be a wise move.

And so, whether you decide to go for a locally-hosted intranet or one that’s hosted in the cloud, you will need to make a decision early in the process of developing your intranet solution.

Intranet Security

The best intranet will have all the latest internal and external intranet security features. It goes without saying that you need to be confident that sensitive and confidential company information and data is as secure as it can be.

intranet securityWith a bespoke intranet option, however, the responsibility for intranet security rests firmly with you. So if phishing to you is something you do off the wharf on a Sunday, then this could be a very important factor to consider. And even if you do have a reasonable current grasp of online security, are you prepared to handle the responsibility of keeping your knowledge up to date on current threats as well as ensuring all your security measures are kept updated with the latest versions?  It’s enough to give even the best of us a massive headache just thinking about it!

By contrast, a cloud intranet provider retains responsibility for all security aspects. This covers external security features such as firewalls, two-way SSL encrypted connections, and single sign-on using secure web authentication. It also encompasses internal security measures such as the ability to restrict access to sensitive information based on role or team, enforced user password updates as well as intuitive management tools which make it easy to delete former staff members from the system. In fact, it’s in the best interests of the cloud intranet provider to be ahead of the game when it comes to security as their professional reputations depend on their ability to provide a secure operating environment.

Budget Constraints

budget-constraintsFor many businesses, the ideal intranet has to be determined by the bottom line. The truth is that the budget available for your company’s intranet solution is often limited. If you are looking for the best intranet and you already know that price has to be your top priority. A custom-built, locally-hosted intranet typically has a much higher up-front cost. You will have to come up with the funds to develop, pilot and refine your intranet from the very beginning. What’s more, there could be an investment required in staff training so that employees know how to get the most out of the intranet. You will also experience maintenance fees over time, particularly concerning the IT staff who will be needed to fully manage your company’s intranet.

Cloud intranet solutions, on the other hand, typically have a lower up-front cost. You’ll pay for access each month, but you won’t have a huge cost on the front end, either. Most cloud intranets charge a fixed monthly fee so you have greater cost certainty than you would with a bespoke intranet option. Furthermore, most cloud intranet providers offer unlimited data storage and users within that fixed monthly fee, which means that the intranet is capable of growing alongside your business without any extra costs or fees.

Test Before You Buy

You can’t know whether or not an intranet will work for your business without giving it a test run. The best intranet solutions allow you to try out the program before you make a final decision. Unlike bespoke intranet options which by their very nature are not so easy to test drive, cloud intranets offer a range of options to test in advance. It might be in the form of a shared screen tour, free demo or even a no-obligation free trial, the important thing is that you can really get your hands dirty with a cloud intranet before signing on the dotted line. And when you test it, make sure that you involve potential users from across the organization to experiment with the new intranet for a while. Different staff members in the various teams will be using the intranet differently so giving them a chance to work with it and see if it fits their needs is an important part of the selection process and it also means that you have a broad range of feedback on which to base your decisions. Also, these trial runs will give you a better idea of what your business really needs in an intranet solution.

The Ideal Intranet

When it comes to determining the ideal intranet for your business, much will depend on your organizational needs as well as your aims and objectives. Whatever those specific needs may be, when it comes to a future-proofed, convenient and flexible choice a cloud intranet is hard to beat.

Here are some of the reasons why a cloud solution could well be your ideal intranet:

  • easy to set up and manage
  • no technical expertise is required
  • tried and tested software which is guaranteed to do what it says on the box
  • incorporates all the latest online security and encryption technology
  • provides a broad range of work tools in one platform and with one sign-on
  • comes with a fixed monthly fee, unlimited data storage, unlimited numbers of users and support
  • high availability and uptime, typically 99.9 percent
  • automatic backups
  • automated product updates.

If you are interested in finding out more, then get in touch with the expert team at MyHub. With a free demo or 14-day no-obligation trial, you can see for yourself why the MyHub intranet is quite simply the best intranet.

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