All About Employee Intranets

Engage employees and see your company thrive

A well-conceived company Intranet empowers employees and helps companies thrive. Your company Intranet can be one of the most powerful tools that connects and engages employees, improves efficiencies, makes content (documents, resources, etc.) findable and supports your company's culture. 


Why you need a great intranet

An employee intranet is designed to allow information to be quickly disseminated to employees, to make common internal business processes more efficient and to provide a sense of community within an organization. Intranets connect employees, broadcast communications, provide easy access to resources, and support collaboration. They are designed to foster engagement, increase productivity and extend company culture. Global (to the company) information and resources including news, announcements, knowledge bases, self-serve IT support, training, management communications, tracking compliance, etc. Local to an office, department, cost center or project including announcements, tasks management, document management, collaboration tools, wikis, discussions, etc.

 

employee intranets promote company culture

 

FACT: a well-executed Intranet engages employees and improves the bottom line #employeeintranet

Intranet concepts to factor into the solution

Depending on the size and geography of a company, you need to consider these aspects of your employee intranet:

  • Portal (company-wide) vs. teamsite (department or project) vs. external communities
  • Global vs. local (location-specific) and language
  • Office-based vs. in-the-field

Think of the portal as the "public" parts of the Intranet, the content, documents, videos, news, FAQ that are available to all employees and help communicate what and who you are. Teamsites are more "private" parts of the overall Intranet eco-system and provide a closed space for the internal activities of a department or project team. Collaboration is a big aspect of teamsites.   

Global means global to the company and includes information and resources like news, announcements, knowledge bases, self-serve IT support, training, management communications, tracking compliance, etc. Local means local to an office, department, cost center or project team. Content includes announcements, tasks management, document management, collaboration tools, wikis, discussions, etc.

Location has a couple of considerations. Where is the employee? Are they in an office, inside the firewall or out in the field where Intranet access is likely via phone or from their home? Understanding how these concepts of scope and audience work at your organization feed directly into the design of your content and Intranet delivery platform.

 

Getting started with your employee intranet

Intranets are typically complex, multi-year efforts. Our recommendation is to start with a roadmap that formalizes scope and prioritizes requirements so that a project plan and budget can be developed. After this phase, a budget and timeline can be generated for each phase of the project.

Plan the project and get buy-in from key stakeholders to ensure success #employeeintranet

A roadmap provides a shared vision of project goals and how to get there

The roadmap is one of the best ways to get everyone on the same page. The project team, key stakeholders, IT (yes IT will likely be involved) and of course, the project sponsor. The roadmap document includes:  

  • Features and capabilities (audit, surveys, interviews)
  • Interface framework (high-level site map, navigation)
  • Technology (hardware, software, hosting)
  • User access (SSO, AD, permissions, roles)
  • Rollout (implementation phases) 
  • Governance (self-service, document retention, sharing)

Roadmap artifacts include a high-level timeline and budget. Project phases are defined based on feature priority and cost. Remember that this is a multi-year project that requires cross-department involvement. Be sure that you have a complete roadmap so that you can get approval and buy-in is needed at all levels.

Creating the roadmap is the beginning of engaging employees. The roadmap team needs to understand pain points. One of the best ways to do this is to ask the users via surveys and interviews. Reviewing current usage (analytics and anecdotes) also provides insights into what is and isn't working (if there is a current intranet) or what is needed if you are starting from scratch. 

Formalize features and capabilities and then based on priority, develop phases for implementation. This information also provides the interface framework for the information architecture and technology parameters. Map out general phases based on biggest pain points, effort, timeline and cost.

Roadmap artifacts include a high-level timeline and budget. Project phases are defined based on feature priority and cost. This is a multi-year project that requires cross-department involvement. Approval and buy-in is needed at all levels. Before you start, management must provide the leadership and vision to drive the project to success. Now that you have approval...

 

Effective home page strategies communicate and engage

It turns out that having an effective home page gets down to these basic concepts:

  1. Keep content current (news, events, announcements)
  2. Engage employees (recognition)
  3. Keep navigation simple and clear
  4. ​Deliver relevant information 

Personalizing the experience is critical to success, from a preset filter to a customizable template. Make it easy (one-click) to get to what employees care about, e.g., My communities, My applications, and My team/project sites. Feature company news that matters (to everyone) and my team/department news and events.

 

Don't miss out on these top requested features  

Across, the board, the biggest pain point is “I can’t find what I’m looking for.” This means that the top goal for your employee intranet is Findability. Make sure to include an Employee directory. Don't forget to recognize employees, in fact let them recognize each other with a Twitter-like employee shout-out feature. If your company has a wellness program, make it easy for employees to engage and share their health and wellness success. Good IA site structure and content metadata help deliver finability and power your intranet search feature.

Integrate social media to engage employees and make your intranet great #employeeintranet

Employee engagement requires incorporating familiar social media into your intranet. This includes features like staff blogging, discussion forums, IM (texting) via Yammer, Slack or Skype. Encourage a dialogue by posting polls and surveys. Add like features to news, recognition and blogs. And don't forget to link to public social media channels.

 

Technology plays a role in the experience

The intranet can and should become a one-stop portal for employees. This means providing easy access to all of the tools, information and training that help employees succeed. It means making it easy to go from one application to the next. It means providing a user experience (UX) that is fast, pleasant and intuitive. Here are some points to consider as you are planning the  technology of your intranet:

  • Business applications – link or embed, API
  • Interface strategies – current UX/UI best practices
  • Single sign-on – integrate with Active Directory
  • Company branding – extend existing guidelines
  • Ongoing maintenance strategies – budget for CMS upgrades and feature enhancements

 

Intranet platform options span the possibilities

SharePoint is an industry standard platform with a suite of products and capabilities that will meet a large portion of your requirements. With Office 365 and SharePoint Online, Microsoft offers a user experience that is beautiful and responsive. That said, there are still significant differences between SharePoint Classic UI, which is a fully functioning Intranet suite, but not 100% mobile) and SharePoint Modern UI (part of the Office 365 suite) which is 100% mobile but lacking many of the features needed by most company Intranets.

For larger organizations, we have found that a hybrid approach allows our clients to deliver excellent Intranet experiences while Microsoft continues to round out the Modern UI feature set. We believe that a hybrid model can be used to leverage the best of SharePoint’s out-of-the-box features and deliver a powerful Intranet that employees will embrace.

For those companies that require a more robust internal communications and publishing platform, we recommend a best in class Content Management Systems, like Kentico, to have the most flexibility in design, content creation, and content management. Kentico’s ASP.NET CMS gives you easy page management, fully customizable forms and page templates, and multisite functionality in a single UI. Kentico’s Web Content Management solution leverages features such as ready-to-use Web Parts, Widgets, Multilingual Support, and mobile previews and device detection, to develop mobile-ready sites for your business.

 

Start building a great employee intranet today

At 2 Plus 2, we specialize in helping enterprises like yours build terrific, fully-realized SharePoint intranets. If you are interested in working with our team to learn how to unlock the power of a great employee intranet, go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.

 

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