Choosing the right intranet software for your business can be a daunting task as there are so many to choose from. For anyone entering the intranet world for the first time, I thought it might be useful to give you some background knowledge and also share my top intranet software shopping tips. If you would like to grow your intranet knowledge further, we run regular intranet showcases where you can see how other high profile organisations achieved intranet success, ask questions and meet other likeminded professionals.
What is an intranet is a common question. Intranets are a business essential. An intranet is a private network, only accessible by an organisations employees. Intranets began in 1994 and have since evolved into a core business communication and collaboration tool.
Intranets enable every employee to access non-public core information and systems in a secure way. Increasingly intranets are being enhanced to do more than just communicate and access information, they are being used to improve business processes and enable employees to access information from multiple devices and from any location.
Intranets can help organisations improve employee engagement, improve business efficiency, improved decision making and promote collaborative working. For further information on benefits read our blog on intranet benefits.
As well as the soft benefits, organisations can also see some hard benefits such as reductions in paper and printing costs, calculated time and efficiency savings.
Intranet Software Options:
Intranet software comes in all shapes and sizes. The simplest way to think about the types of intranet available are to think about the intranet triangle. Traditionally, there are Boxed products, Enterprise social networks and SharePoint & tool kit platforms.
Boxed intranet products are usually the cheapest options for delivering an intranet. They are very quick to get up and running and often provide good communication features (social collaboration for example). The downside is they deliver very restrictive functionality which is limited by the development schedule of the provider. To be effective most intranets need to adapt to your business processes and to your objectives. This is hard with a boxed product which may need to be replaced within a few years.
An intranet toolkit is on the other end of the flexibility scale from the boxed products (think Microsoft SharePoint). This provides the nuts, bolts and spanners of the intranet, letting you get on with the job of assembling it yourself. Intranet toolkits can be free or low cost from the outset but the cost quickly racks up as simple functionality needs to be developed and product licences are required.
The 3rd option is to build your own (enterprise social network). This used to be a viable choice about 10 years ago, one that we hardly ever experience these days. Most organisations that opt for this route now, either have very basic requirements or choose to use a product like SharePoint to deliver the basics and spend money on developers to build on this.
Here at SORCE we like to think that our intranet software is a hybrid of these solutions, providing a fourth option for you to consider. Our solution will deliver the same readymade applications as a boxed product but will also include the flexibility of the intranet toolkit. The advantage here is in both its ability to deliver a solution that streamlines your business processes today while adapting to your requirements as the business objectives change – all without requiring advanced technical skills. Longer term this approach delivers greater value for money.
Top 5 Intranet Software Shopping Tips:
Before you start shopping, here are my top 5 things you should be equipped with:
- Understand your business objectives. If you don’t know what objectives you need your intranet software to achieve, your shopping won’t be effective.
- Take time to understand your end user requirements. We have a free knowledge bank full of advice and downloads to help with this.
- Prepare questions to ask suppliers and attend webinars and events. These are great to ensure you are consistent in your approach and attending free events is invaluable for gaining insights into potential software solutions and meeting the team behind them.
- How much internal resource will each software solution need? If you have finite internal resources, you need to ensure that your software solution is going to be manageable.
- Have a ball park budget in mind so you can get a very top level idea of what can be achieved and ongoing costs.
I hope this blog has got you thinking about your own project. Here at SORCE we’ve experienced hundreds of intranets of all shapes and sizes and are skilled at helping uncover opportunities to improve engagement and business processes.
As intranet software and consultancy providers our software powers the intranet and extranet for hundreds of organisations. Our clients cover a wide range of sectors from finance to manufacturing, not for profit organisations (such as charities and housing associations) as well as local authorities and other public sector agencies.
If you still have lots of questions about your intranet, you might benefit from a chat with our Intranet expert Martyn Green. He runs regular free 30 minute consultation slots where he will answer any intranet questions you may have.