If you want to improve how your team communicates with each other, how they share files, and how they collaborate, you’ll need to put a strong intranet in place. In case you aren’t familiar, a workplace intranet is similar to the internet we’re all acquainted with—except instead of connecting millions of devices across the world, you’ll be connecting dozens to hundreds of devices within your company exclusively, .
Historically, intranets have existed as local area networks (LAN), but thanks to cloud hosting, it’s now possible to create virtual intranets between devices no matter where they’re located or how they’re connected.
But with so many intranet options to choose from, how should you make your decision on what to purchase or build?
Key Features to Look For
Your office intranet should have these features, at a minimum:
- A space to organize relevant content. Almost any intranet will allow you to upload, store, and exchange files with your team, but not every intranet will allow you to do so efficiently. If your team has trouble finding what they’re looking for, or if there’s no clear way to label, sort, and/or search, it won’t matter how fast or secure the system is. Accordingly, your first priority should be finding a system with sufficient organizational controls. Of course, regardless of the intranet you’re using, you’ll also need to come up with a for your team to use.
- Efficient communication. A good intranet also needs outlets for efficient communication. For starters, that means a fast, easily accessible platform where your team members can exchange messages one on one. But today’s team needs even more in-depth communication options; for example, it’s helpful to have a forum-like space where team members can develop an entire conversation related to a specific point or project.
- Some degree of customizability. Most intranets come with a default, out-of-the-box state, but it’s a good idea to find a platform that offers some degree of customizability. Each business is going to have different needs, different preferences, and different priorities for how they’re going to use the intranet; it therefore helps to be able to change layouts, features, and overall organization.
- Cloud hosting, user accounts, and permissions. LAN-based intranets have all but become obsolete. Today, your intranet should be . That way, your employees can access your intranet even if they’re away from the office, and even when they have to switch between devices. For this to work, you’ll need to set up individual user accounts for intranet access, which also necessitates the ability to create multiple permission levels; for example, admin-level users might be able to add other users to the system, but a read-only user would only be able to access content already posted by others.
- Encrypted security. Because you’ll be using your company intranet to store important files and maintain confidential conversations, you’ll need to be assured that those communications and documents are safe. Check the encryption standards of your proposed intranet solution before you finalize it, and make sure your engagements won’t be visible to prying eyes.
- A fast learning curve. Some of your employees are probably tech-savvy, able to learn new tools without challenge or hesitation, but others may have difficulty picking up new tech concepts. Make sure your intranet tool is accessible to both types of employees, with a fast learning curve, and preferably, tutorials (in case they get stuck). The intuitiveness of a platform will play a significant role in how long it takes to train your employees, how consistently they use the platform, and how many issues you’ll face in the future.
- External integrations. Finally, consider which external integrations your intranet can support. For example, you might wish to integrate your intranet with a CRM platform so you can have all your customer information accessible in one spot, or you may wish to integrate it with social media platforms to give your team even more potential communication methods. There’s no right or wrong selection of integrations to seek here—it really depends on what other tools your team is using, and what other functionalities you’re looking for.
Of course, you’ll also have to consider your budget for this decision. If you find a robust solution with all the features you need and then some, with top-of-the-line security and blazing speeds, it probably isn’t going to be cheap. For the most part, a robust intranet is , but if you do have to make sacrifices to get a solution within budget, make sure you’re making cuts from the right categories. Establish a hierarchy of priorities for your system, and only make compromises for the lower items on your list.