Building the Best Intranet for Your Business

By Simpplr Marketing
For over 25 years, the company Intranet has been a private online network for employees and authorized users to communicate, engage in collaborative projects, and develop content. Over time, it has become the centralized source of truth and a repository for company knowledge. When leveraged correctly, it can be a company’s most powerful tool next to its own product, service, or offerings. 

Many businesses and organizations are beginning to acknowledge the significance of having a central base of knowledge and information while improving communication and collaboration more effectively. That includes using technologies such as best practice databases and social media. There are even opportunities to make your internal communications platform, whether a new install or a redesign of your existing solution, a place to promote company culture, manage events with a published calendar, and create a central touchpoint for teams. These applications and platforms are frequently implemented to support knowledge management and organizational learning, but their benefits are not always fully realized.

The same companies that invest in Intranet platforms still struggle to effectively use them to their full potential and fail to create a competitive business edge with its use. In reality, many Intranet and knowledge management initiatives fail out of the gate due to complexity, insufficient functionality, high costs, and internal misalignment. The absence of employee engagement, often due to poor user experience, confirms the lack of value and benefits. Due to the cost invested in the technology, companies are financially committed to keeping platforms that age out. So, what’s a business to do?

The first step to any problem is recognizing there is one

Right now, with disparate workforces and digital workplaces, the Intranet is more critical than ever. In this new remote reality, businesses are facing a need to either build an Intranet or, if possible, improve the existing one. Why? Many companies are not enforcing in-person work. In fact, according to US News and World Report, remote working is not going away. More companies, such as Twitter and Spotify, offer “generous policies” on remote work, while others are moving to a hybrid work environment.  

It makes sense, especially to technology companies whose employees have become more productive working from home. In a recent Forbes article, “Employees who work from home can devote more time to their families and personal lives. Daily commute time is now devoted to other important tasks. Thus, not only is work productivity increased but the quality of life is improved as well.” FlexJobs, a transformative leader in the remote and flexible workspaces, echoes this in a survey that states that “51% of survey respondents indicate that they have been more productive working from home during COVID-19, and 95% of respondents say productivity has been higher or the same while working remotely.” 

If companies recognize the benefits of remote work, are they willing to use the right remote work tools to make and keep employees in this mode of productivity? Also, can this productivity be transferred to an in-person work environment with those same tools? The beginning of a synchronous place of employment is the use of an internal communication system or an Intranet.

​Purposeful Alignment to the Employee

By now, you should know and understand that “communication is the foundation of any company’s operations, no matter the size or field of business.” Initially, internal comms purpose was to provide a place to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas. It was perfect for a global enterprise company with a vast geographic presence and a diverse workforce. It enabled connections via Intranet software and platforms. 

Although work practices and the use of Intranets may differ across organizations and vary from company to company, the task of designing appropriate knowledge management systems doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, think of it this way: your Intranet is your business ecosystem where employees obtain needed information—fast. It should be engaging, easily adopted, with relevant data and purposeful communication. In essence, your Intranet must be employee-centric. 

Today, the company Intranet has progressed beyond the point of connection for all team members aiding in internal communication, from the executive level and C-Suite to the entire staff. It has become a multipurpose tool to track projects, monitor customer support cases, and even house employee directories. It is a source for company news in real-time, and it has become the virtual water cooler, enhancing company culture

While it is already a place to collaborate and share knowledge and ideas, it has now become so much more. It provides portals to Human Resources forms, aids in applying for healthcare, helps with onboarding information, changes in employment and company policies, and takes care of employee needs quickly. It is no longer meant for large enterprise companies alone. Small to medium businesses (SMBs) are finding it useful, too. 

Another exciting point about the new Intranet is that it is intended to enhance the employee user experience while existing as a workspace tool, improving workflows and creating efficiencies. That is the sign of a successful Intranet.  If your company is not having that kind of experience or success, you must ask why not?

Simpplr has suggestions, guided steps, and best practices in designing and choosing your internal communications network, with features that will encourage use, adoption, and eventually return on investment. But you need to acknowledge that your company needs an Intranet or a better one in the first place.

Due Diligence in Planning Intranet Development and Design

The design process of implementing a corporate Intranet is something that you should give appropriate time to develop. That is why doing your due diligence is so important. Most companies offer suggestions and questions to address. However, the first thing that should be considered is the employee end-users perspective.

Your employees are the frontline users of the company Intranet, and it is their input that is the most valuable. Consider forming a committee of representatives from various teams, departments, and organizations to present their ideas and compose a plan of action. These stakeholders will know what tools and functionalities that the user-employee is looking for. If need be, they can also be the team to Beta test different software and platforms.  Their purpose will be to distinguish content, choose an Intranet vendor, and co-plan implementation with the vendor or a third-party implementation specialist. Once knowledgeable of the product, they can also help train coworkers and monitor best-used features and tools.

Now that you organized your test team, they need to put together questions and answers around the purpose and need of your Intranet. Here are some sample questions they can answer:

  • What are the purpose and objectives of your Intranet?
  • Are there specific business goals tied to its existence, and what are they? e
  • How will it aid workflows and particular needs of the employees?
  • Will the Intranet platform provide for both internal and mobile Intranet with use on mobile devices?
  • What will the architecture of the system look like? Are there integration possibilities with other systems?
  • Can you mock up a site map showing information placement and access?
  • Are all employees allowed to provide continuous content? Who provides oversight, especially moderating forums?
  • Is there a budget? How is the money allocated for the platform itself vs. training and development?
  • Who will provide the training? Will continuing support be a part of this plan? 
  • Are there scenarios, best practices, and guides to give to employees regarding content and use? 
  • Will there be continuous maintenance provided, and by whom?
  • With confidential information a high target, what type of security measures will be in place to provide protection?

With every question answered, you now have an idea of your plan and content. The more input, the better!  So, begin your research to decide what Intranet software and platform best suits your business needs.

Choosing the Right Intranet Provider for You

After you put in the time and effort doing your due diligence in planning your Intranet design, spend as much time choosing your provider. Here are some issues to consider when choosing the right Intranet company for you.

  • Size of your business: Think about how large or small your company is and what is its potential growth rate. If your company is scaling at a fast rate and employees are onboarding faster, can your internal comms handle the changing volume of users? 
  • Is it customizable to meet your needs: Each company and its business needs are unique. The solution that the Intranet company provides should be able to fill your needs and offer flexible solutions, functionality, and tools. These attributes can be the difference between a good and a great Intranet. Another question to be studied is will the solution be custom-built, or is it an out-of-the-box offering? Something off the shelf can offer excellent options for SMBs. Take into consideration that customer-made solutions don’t scale and flex without extra integrations and work. Will the software you invest in quickly scale or pivot? And do not forget the need for Intranet security par excellence. 
  • Who hosts your Intranet and where: Some off-the-shelf solutions are only hosted off-premises. They are broad in reach, but they don’t have a depth to their abilities. Built-to-order solutions may or may not be hosted on-premises. Another part of this consideration is a cloud-based software. While this type of Intranet solution runs primarily on its own, it puts more responsibility on the provider. Every single option brings the question of administration, maintenance, and oversight.
  • Who oversees maintenance, updates, and oversight of the platform: Your team hopefully studied the idea of what would happen if your Intranet suddenly stops functioning. If that happens, who is responsible for bringing the platform back up? With many software offerings AI-driven and built to be self-serve, does that mean employees own the primary maintenance responsibilities? Who provides the initial training for this? And who makes sure that administrators have profiles and educations that are up-to-date? The job may be simple, but is there outside support for the worst possibilities?
  • Training and Engagement: Though this could be a particular aspect of choosing an Intranet provider, it must also be included in the conversation and choice. The truth is that a trained, engaged user will continue to adopt and use it. Who will provide the training, and who will sustain user support? Also, who will be responsible for the initial training, and is continuous instruction considered to be a part of a staff development program? The faster an employee understands the tools and functions of the company Intranet, the more they will use it, and your business will see a return on investment sooner. If you are concerned with employee intranet adoption, create a special education campaign emphasizing the benefits of intranet use. Some of the best methods are webinars, videos, and in-app prompts.
  • Nail the Experience: One of the keys to choosing the right Intranet is knowing what kind of Intranet experience the employee will have. An Intranet is definitely a collaboration tool, but it needs to help disparate and remote workers feel connected and less isolated. The Intranet homepage must be inviting, giving a visual welcome. It is, after all, the first thing that your employees encounter. Don’t be afraid to integrate the feel of social media. Leverage the Intranet design to inspire and motivate teams with special spaces for content, direct employees to special features, such as webinars while promoting your brand presence. You can help create a thing of beauty and usability. It can display everything from daily announcements to new content “quick links”  and blogs. You can even create focus sections on stand-out employees and their accomplishments. Don’t forget that all of this should be connected with mobile apps and mobile devices. Employees should be able to take the experience on the go.

If you have found an Intranet solution that provides all the tools, functions, workspace, along with the experience and usability of the social Intranet, you may have found your winner. The key is to listen to your users and stakeholders continuously. They may have outside ideas that can help improve the process and choice. This motion can be a part of the testing process.

It’s Time to Test, Review, and Analyze

Sometimes, Intranet solutions never make it past the Beta testing period. If the platform is an effective Intranet, this is when its performance should shine. Begin with the Intranet homepage design. In-app surveys can reveal if your color scheme and added images create an aesthetically pleasing experience. You can also incorporate your company’s mission statement to inspire and make a connection between employees and their work environment. Including this will build a sense of community, belonging, and a more robust culture that will foster alignment.

Next, review how the Implemented Intranet tools enable employees to do their jobs better, more efficiently, and improve productivity. There must be detailed metrics that measure, track, and express what was achieved. You must perform these readings in a timely cadence to ensure that the Intranet hits its milestones and achieves its goals. 

There also must be structured feedback that informs you of what is missing from your Intranet performance. There will always be those who complain and are ultimately afraid of change. But be open to listening to proper responses that voice the needs of the employee user. The more you know and understand the basic needs and the functions they desire from the Intranet design, the quicker you can respond and change it for the better.

Purpose Behind the Intranet Design and Use

When it comes to your company’s Intranet, bear this in mind, there is always value attached to its existence. The design must be aligned with the goals and objectives of the company. Every motion has to be strategically driven, streamlining teams, organizations, and the entire enterprise. It must create alignment between all employees, even the C-suite. It must be designed and built to achieve measurable goals and create efficiencies in its use. It is all achievable when you choose the right Intranet provider. We believe the solution for you is Simpplr.

Simpplr is the modern employee Intranet that is purpose-built to align the most complex and distributed workforces. Upon entering your company’s specially designed Intranet home page, you will see that it is sleek, contemporary, stylish, and easy to use. With Android and IoS apps, your company Intranet can go with your employee, even to a home-based remote work site. There is a smart feed that distills information based on employee job titles, filters, and characteristics. That means someone in New York City at an entry-level might see what is pertinent to them, while an LA executive receives pointed and direct information.

Communication and collaboration are the foundation of your Intranet. In Simpplr, you can connect and interact with others across teams, organizations, or the enterprise. There are personalized intranet dashboards that store content that you specifically need to get the job done. You can also access company information with an advanced search option organized internally and across other knowledge and content platforms, including Google, Microsoft’s Office 365, and more. Our Sites feature offers better organization and access to content that is easy to manage and find. You can also organize Sites to be public or private, mandatory or optional.

Simpplr has a point-and-click motion that allows you to change and distribute administrative roles to anyone you please effortlessly. In our People Directory, employees can find and connect with other Intranet members in one click. And contact information syncs with your HR system revealing the most up-to-date contact information. Employees can personalize their profiles, similar to those found on social media sites, sharing personal interests, their latest life experience, and their job expertise.

Integration is the name of the game. Simpplr’s interface integrates with other apps, like Box, Salesforce, and Slack, in a central digital workspace. With over 50 connectors, employees can utilize the best-in-class cloud-based applications. All of this is protected by an identity management provider that keeps your information safe.

Content is easily created and shared without the requirement of coding. Simpplr is simple to use. Publishing and sharing information across your organization is easier than ever before. This content can be refreshed and new information added with a few clicks. Our auto governance engine is the first in the industry, automatically monitoring and surfaces unpublished, lesser-known documents to prevent stale content.

Analytics is incredibly vital to your company’s Intranet. With Simpplr’s dashboard system, you view adoption rates and find out which employees are staying engaged. It reveals actionable intelligence that guides you to what features, functions, and tools are popular and working and what needs more promotional engagement efforts.

As companies seek to grow and scale, there is a greater need to have modern and cutting-edge technology to help your employees do their jobs. Everything about Simpplr enables growth and adoption by incorporating the latest features to keep pace with demands. With our award-winning platform, we are recognized as the leading industry Intranet provider. It’s time you found out why. 

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