As more and more businesses and enterprises are learning to embrace the advantages of using a company intranet, there are many questions about how to effectively build and get the most out of the system. Almost all social business software is designed and created specifically with ease of use in mind, but this doesn’t mean that system administrators and other teams won’t experience any issues down the road. After all, transitioning to an entirely new work method or platform can be hard no matter how good your team might be.

An intranet can be a very powerful business tool. If it is designed and implemented correctly, it can be an effective way to promote communication and collaboration within the enterprise. An effective intranet can also help staff work quickly and efficiently, enhance the organization’s culture and encourage a feeling of community among employees. This will also make the staff feel more engaged with upper management who value their opinion. If it is designed and used wrong, it’ll just be a high tech phone directory, a waste of time and a waste of money.

The key to an effective intranet is ensuring that the project does not get out of control or blow out in the planning and requirements stage. Any intranet project should not turn into an IT project to modernize the entire organization. The project should be about employee communications. Go for a phased approach with achievable goals to keep the momentum up in the intranet project. It’s also essential to train your staff to use the new intranet. Investing in training will pay off in both a short period and in the long term

Image credit: www.techrepublic.com

Image credit: www.techrepublic.com

Advantages Of Implementing A Business Or Corporate Intranet

A business or corporate intranet can be described as a private computer network that allows authorized employees access to organization information. Intranets often require user IDs, passwords and other authentication keys. Intranets are used by many business organizations to upload and share documents, information and other resources for internal use. Benefits of intranets include:

  • Team collaboration. Employees can upload and download information and reports using a central location that is accessible to teams or individual employees working on the same project. It’s a more secure form of communication as compared to emails and more efficient than teleconferencing because work groups can share information across floors, states or even other countries.
  • Resource delivery. Small and large business organizations can make their applications and resources available to all employees through the intranet. Employees can download and select the tools that are useful to them.
  • Enhanced communication. Intranets enhance communication, internal conversation, idea generation and sharing. The organization can offer forums where employees can share their ideas on any topics that are related to the business. Chat rooms provide real time communication among employees or team members when working on a project.  It also allows employees who work in different locations to have a useful tool in communicating with other employees in the field.
  • Security and reliability. Companies can use different types of firewalls and other forms of encrypted technology in protecting sensitive data and internal communication from unauthorized users and hackers. Companies have their own IT team to manage the systems. As compared to using regular internet, employees will not have to worry about bandwidth limitations and accessibility when accessing intranet tools and documents.

7 Points To Consider When Developing And Building Your Intranet

Below are some things that you may want to consider when developing your intranet system. Although many companies have different requirements, the suggestions below are generally followed by most organizations and enterprises.

1. Know What You’re Trying To Achieve

When you’ve devided to implement a corporate intranet, it’s important to formulate an end goal. Always evaluate the benefits which you expect from the system for your organization. Find out whether it is feasible and if an intranet is the best way to achieve those goals. During the planning stages, examine your current position regarding intranet provision or lack thereof.

Would an intranet make it easier to update, arrange and distribute information across the floor or would it complicate matters? If you already have an intranet, how do you keep the system updated? Is there some form of Content Management System or does everything go through a central administrator? To what extent would you be able to allocate or spend on technical resources (software, hardware, tech support) in the creation, implementation and maintenance of the system?

2. The User Interface Design

Your brand should be reflected throughout the intranet to strengthen your corporate image, and remind all employees that the intranet is a dedicated company tool and resource that belongs to everyone. This will encourage everyone to use and maximize the advantages the system provides. The system should also engage users. You can do this by having an attractive design, a pleasing and simple layout, well written and interesting content and intuitive navigation. There shouldn’t be any difficulty in searching for information. Make the system as functional as possible and easy to use.

3. The Intranet Structure

Most experts agree that the most effective way of structuring the business intranet is to not reflect the organization’s structure. Although you may think of creating departmental sections, there will also be too many areas which are shared throughout the floor. It is easier to keep one section updated as compared to re-creating the section in each department. Although the organizational structure should not dictate the intranet structure, departmental home pages should be made. This will further encourage intranet use and provide each department staff with a more personalized section.

When setting up the company intranet, keep simple and concise. Provide a secure ground for future expansion, but do not add everything at once. Intranets are best when done in stages because it will ensure accuracy and the analysis of areas that need to be worked on further.

4. The People

One of the most used sections of the system is the up-to-date and searchable employee database. The system should allow the user to search and view contact information, employee profiles, departmental listings, job titles, pictures  and descriptions of all personnel. There should also be a link to a web-based customer relationship management. This will centralize the work flow and avoid any unnecessary work,  or applications.  This will make it easier for anyone who deals with customers every day.

5. User Feedback

It’s very beneficial to provide users with an easy feedback service to submit suggestions in improving the system. Send out regular email newsletters to update employees on corporate matters. You can include links to specific content or news to make it more effective. This will draw and encourage users to check any updates themselves.

Provide monitored forums or chat rooms to help improve communications and promote idea exchange across the work floor. Forums can be an effective space for specific debates and active discussions. Staff-generated content encourages employee contribution and development. Articles, info-graphics, videos or Whitepapers can be an effective marketing medium for your business.

Image credit: tuningpp.com

Image credit: tuningpp.com

6. Content

Make all content relevant and up to date. An intranet acts as the central repository of all company information, latest documents and templates. This content should also be immediately available, current and accurate. Although it’s still essential to keep old records or versions of documents, it will be appropriate to mark with version numbers and dates. If you have traditionally stored your company files on specific directories or internal servers, you should ensure that all relevant content is transferred from the old location to the newly implemented intranet. If this doesn’t happen, it will result in confusion. While you transfer content, it’s also a good time to sort out the irrelevant data and information and review any content that you still think is useful. Integrate other web-based applications for the intranet to streamline the business processes. And most important of all, do backups of any critical information that you store in the corporate intranet.

7. System Maintenance

Most of the successful intranets around the world are maintained by a central team. The management and system maintenance should be directly under the central team. The intranet management people can include:

  • Intranet administrator – the general coordinator of the team. Responsible for strategy, organization and quality maintenance.
  • Publisher – responsible for knowing and determining the information which regularly provided on the intranet.
  • Editor – manages the creation of content and formal information related to specific areas within the enterprise.
  • Webmaster – responsible for maintaining the technical side of the intranet.
  • Author – responsible for the creation of content on the internet.
Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Make sure that your company’s intranet is always up to date. All content should be regularly reviewed to check if they are still relevant and accurate. This will assure users that the information they are getting is reliable and trustworthy.

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.