When introducing an Intranet in your company, you will ask yourself which product will make the best Intranet for you. That very last bit is important. It does not matter what others like or what others do. The task is to find the best solution that will satisfy your needs.
Obviously, the best Intranet is the one that satisfies all your requirements but what are your requirements? And what's with those features that you did not look for but will turn out to be really useful?
Introducing an Intranet, and particularly choosing a software tool, isn't an easy task. An Intranet will - and should - affect the work of everyone in your company. This means that you will have to involve many people in the decision process. Moreover, in the process of evaluating different solutions, you will most likely have to bring together different opinions, work-related demands, and beliefs. The task of persuading others is particularly difficult from the inside. My recommendation is to begin by choosing one or more experts who will assist and guide you in that process.
However, it can never hurt to stay informed and to preserve the ability for yourself to make a well-informed decision. A modern Intranet should not only help your management to circulate the latest news to all employees, it should also enable all employees to communicate and collaborate together. Depending on your company culture, the process to perceiving the Intranet as a social collaboration platform for the daily work can be a bumpy road. But it's definitely worthwhile to get the most out of your new platform. Getting as many employees as possible to use the Intranet for their daily work is pretty much the only way to generate broad, sustainable acceptance.
Start with defining where you want to see your companies work culture mid- and long-term, and describe the requirements for your desired solution so you can reach this goal. Here, the help of expert consultants can come in handy. Keep an eye on flexibility and extensibility of the system for future needs. Below we have summarized a few key features that we believe are critical for an outstanding Intranet today.
- Top-down communication as well as bootom-up communication features.
- Social collaboration features, such as sharing pages, comments, mentions, activity feeds, blogs, etc.
- Integration with enterprise applications such as instant messaging, Enterprise Content Management (ECM), mail & conferencing tools, as well as all other browser-based applications.
- Customization and personalization of navigation so you have quick access to your most wanted features and content.
- Personalization of information, such as individual news and activity feeds. This helps to manage the abundance of information that you are swamped with every day.
- Versioning and archiving of content.
- Extensibility through plugins, add-ons, or external gadgets.
- User- and group-level access rights management based on roles.
- Include a Killer App: Like news headlines, vacation requests or something else to bring users back to the Intranet. Killer App must be visible, easy to find and quick and easy to use.
- Enable serendipity by creating an environment where random events can take place that are inspiring for the users. When knowledge can flow uninhibited and when there is room for something unexpected to take place, then this has great potential to be inspiring in a winning way.
- Create community: Strong community increases satisfaction and encourages knowledge transfer. (discussion forums, blogging, photo albums, news articles, birthdays)
- People should be able to access the Intranet at any time from any location.
Extras you may find interesting
- Extranet capabilities to share information with third parties.
- Seamless integration with complementary tools, such as LDAP/Active Directory, task management, or a CRM tool.
- High-availability capabilities.
- Support for different databases.
A few hints and ideas to make it really successful
- Keep it open: For a successful Intranet, it has to be as open as possible.
- Everyone should be empowered to contribute content.
- Invite partners to generate new value.
- Focus on the user: The Intranet will always be judged by the quality of the user experience. It must be fun and easy to handle.
- New features on the Intranet should be tested to prevent usability problems.
- Keep it Agile: Agile software development is people-oriented rather than process-oriented. It allows for change instead of trying to predict everything in advance.
- Allow to work on content in rapid iterations and take away the fear of making mistakes.
Get to know your company's work culture and define where you want it to be some years down the road. Get help from experts - internal or external - and choose a solution that best satisfies your requirement. Don't forget to involve your key users and don't forget the acceptance factor. Try to find a system that is not only practical but also fun to use end extensible. Of course, you will keep costs in mind; somer per-user license models (e.g. Jive's pricing model) get very expensive when your user base grows. Perhaps have a look at Confluence or a Confluence-based Intranet solution like LINCHPIN from //SEIBERT/MEDIA.
This page was inspired by the following question on Quora:
What Intranet is the best?
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