Today, there are dozens of intranet software options available on the market and choosing the one that best suits your company can be a challenge, especially if it is your first time using this type of solution.
The selection process, therefore, should start by trying to understand exactly what your employees’ needs are. Are they looking for a better way to collaborate online? Are they tired of having to log in to three or more different portals to manage their tasks?
It is extremely important that you spend time finding out what the main pain points are that they are facing so that you can create a priority list to guide your final decision.
After knowing the main requirements of your intranet, you will have to choose from the variety of software you will find. Most will be in one of the three categories that currently exist, and narrowing down the choices to one of these categories will simplify your decision process.
If you don’t have an intranet in your company yet, your team will probably be using some set of tools and applications found online to make their work easier. This set might include, for example, storing notes in Evernote, scheduling meetings with Doodle, sending larger files through WeTransfer, or other productivity applications.
For companies that do not need an intranet immediately, encouraging the use of this type of standardized tools is a good alternative. In this strategy, what is necessary is that you choose the tools that best adapt to the needs of the employees and the company and that you ensure that everyone has access to them.
Today, many of these online work tools offer the possibility of integrating with each other. Sometimes a set may seem more attractive and easier to manage than an intranet – especially if your team only needs a dozen tools and there are no conflicting requirements. But what if this is not the case in your company and the activities are more complex?
The ready-to-use standard solution
A “ready-to-use” intranet software is ideal for those companies that have certain basic needs that cannot be solved by a set of tools alone, but that are not so complex that they need more customized development either. In this scenario, an intranet software with standard functionalities would be the perfect solution.
Some of the most typical features found in standard intranet solutions are
- Home page and custom news feed
- Ability to add videos
- Document Library
- Flow of activities
- Group Pages
- Employee profiles and blogs
- Have a mobile version enabled
This is the ideal solution for companies that do not have time, money or many resources available to develop a custom intranet. Building an intranet is one thing, but maintaining it is something completely different.
Ready-to-use intranets need fewer resources to keep them up to date, however there is also the risk of being more dependent on the supplier and any decisions you make as a manufacturer regarding the software’s functionality.
In addition, these standard solutions usually require you to adopt the functionalities as they are, without offering the possibility to adapt them to the reality of your company. This can be a good thing if the design of the user experience is something new for your company. Imagine having to create your own internal version of Facebook from scratch.
Are you willing to make all the decisions involved in creating a social platform? The use of standard tools as standard in this type of intranet ensures that you get to control a website without having to have a very high knowledge of user experience or make a large investment. On the other hand, if these benefits are not enough, you can always look for something that suits your needs.
The customized platform
The latest category of intranet software is customizable platforms. This type of solution is ideal for large companies with more complex needs. Usually these are also companies that belong to a specific market segment, such as a bank, which will need some typical functionalities used by employees in the financial sector. These platforms demand greater commitment, but it can also be said that they are more complete and efficient than a standard intranet.
For example, intranets created on customizable platforms are better equipped to carry out more complex business processes. A Diagnostics Laboratory has built a customer portal and intranet in order to improve the cumbersome process of ordering and tracking medical tests.
To enable their employees to track results, their intranet needed to integrate functionality they had never had before, such as synchronizing postal service databases, tagging patient data through the diagnostic lab, and facilitating physician login and access to results.
As this lab was one of the few (perhaps the only one) to create a digital solution for all the processes involved in patient testing, there was no alternative intranet that could meet these needs, so it was necessary to build one.
The platforms that can be customized have more flexibility than other intranet software. Ideally, your company’s intranet should be the extension of your company’s culture, and customizable platforms allow you to align these two elements to be present from the home page.
Let’s say your HR team wants to launch a fitness challenge where employees must set a goal of steps they take each day. To do so, it would be necessary, for example, to create a discussion forum where you can publish phrases and content that will encourage such a challenge, as well as an agenda -for those who want to meet and walk together-, a mobile application, a classification panel, among other ideas that may arise.
There are countless possibilities for companies that want to invest and create an intranet that offers a better experience to their employees.
Increased flexibility is also critical in organizations whose requirements are constantly changing and need to adapt quickly. QAD, an ERP software provider, has to include some business requirements in all projects uploaded to its intranet.
Since the IT team decided to invest in a customizable intranet, it is possible to quickly create these new requirements as they arise, through a single tool used by their employees.
Finally, if your company wants to incorporate new technologies in the future, such as Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of things, in your intranet, a customizable platform will allow you to plan how you are going to implement them in your infrastructure.
In the case of standard solutions, for example, this depends on the provider, and not you, deciding that it is worthwhile to include these technologies. Building a custom intranet will give you much more power to make the decisions you want for your business.
START WITH WHAT YOU NEED
Whether you’re building an intranet for the first time or updating one you’ve been using for a while, it’s best to start with what you know you need. Often, the real challenge of intranets is convincing your employees to use them.
When you focus your strategy on the applications and tools that you know they use on a daily basis, you will be able to choose the software that will address your company’s main pain points, while also ensuring greater commitment to their use by employees.