Updated: 30 August 2022

In this guide, we’ll explain what an enterprise intranet solution is and how it can benefit your company.

Imagine you’ve decided to invest in new enterprise intranet software. 

Your company has spent quite a bit of time and money deploying it. Not only that, but you’ve had to jump through some hoops along the way such as checkpoints like getting executive approval and heavy customization for specific company needs. And then, after all that time and money spent, your employees don’t even want to use it. 

The software’s interface is clunky, and its functionalities feel limited. Your IT department is fielding questions and complaints from employees every single day, wasting time and lowering productivity across the board. Sounds like a nightmare scenario, right? 

That’s why it’s worth putting the time in to do research before you select an enterprise intranet solution. You don’t want to end up like this unhappy reviewer on Capterra

In this guide, we’ll explain what an enterprise intranet solution is and how it can benefit your company. We’ll also cover what to look for when researching intranet solutions, so you can find one that’s right for you.

What Is an Enterprise Intranet Solution

What Is an Enterprise Intranet Solution?

Before we start digging into the details of choosing the perfect enterprise intranet, here’s a quick primer on what an intranet is.

An “intranet” is a closed network shared between you and other company members. It’s a digital tool to help you exchange information within your organization.

It’s important to note that intranets have changed a lot over time. The earliest intranet solutions were little more than simple lists of links. 

As time went on, companies began to build in more features, things like document directories, employee engagement surveys, and internal social interest groups.

Why Have Intranets Evolved so Much?

Intranet solutions have evolved to meet modern employee expectations and new HR developments. 

Employees want a familiar social experience that’s engaging but useful. While HR as a function has shifted towards a more data-driven vision of what work looks like. For example, the growing popularity of people analytics has led to an explosion in the HR tech space. You can read more from world-renowned HR analyst Josh Bersin here.

But why should you invest in an enterprise intranet platform that’s people-centered?

Not only do they help centralize data and make it easy to share information with employees. But even more important is the sense of community and belonging they facilitate. 

This is especially important in today’s world of work, where not everyone is at the office. Because of the hybrid nature of work, loneliness and isolation can be challenging.

Intranet solutions that are engaging and easy to administer are more likely to increase engagement and productivity. In fact, McKinsey highlights that productivity can increase by 20 to 25% from social tech.

Social intranets are great for belonging at work

The Benefits of an Enterprise Intranet Solution

Next, we explore the potential uses of intranet solutions specifically for small businesses and HR professionals. Before we do, here are the benefits of having an enterprise intranet solution within your business, regardless of size or industry.

1. An enterprise intranet solution can improve communication and collaboration among employees.

In fact, it is one of the primary benefits of having an enterprise intranet solution. When employees have a central place to communicate that’s convenient and immediate, they are more likely to do so. 

If your enterprise solution is designed to work just as well on mobile devices, it’s an added bonus, as frontline employees will feel as included as those working at a desk. 

This improved communication can lead to better collaboration and a more cohesive work environment. 

2. An intranet can help to manage and store company data securely.

When data is stored in a central location, it is less likely to be lost or stolen, particularly if your intranet solution complies with strict security controls.

Having all of the company’s information in one place makes it easier for employees to find what they need. 

A centralized location to store your data can also benefit your employees. If you need to find out who heads up a particular department or location and then need to send them an email or message, a place to store organizational information is always helpful. 

3. Intranets can teach you valuable information about your employees. 

Some intranet solutions will include tools that analyze and measure employee behavior. 

This feature is a great way to understand what kind of information employees find useful or entertaining and gives you insights into what employees need. 

4. Employees will appreciate the convenience of an intranet solution.

If someone can send a quick, informal message without opening up an email, quick answers are facilitated, and productivity improves. 

Finding an enterprise intranet that integrates with the software your business already uses, like Zoom, Slack, Office, or the Google Suite, enables people to work more efficiently. 

5. Intranets are affordable and easy to maintain.

By choosing an out-of-the-box, cloud-based enterprise intranet solution, you ensure that the whole team can access the same great interface wherever they are. 

Choose your enterprise intranet provider with care; a good one will provide excellent technical support via live chat or email and help you set up the intranet quickly, saving your IT team time and money. 

Intranet Software for Small Businesses

Intranets are a natural fit for large businesses where teams are spread over several locations, or both frontline and desk-based staff are employed. In general, they are an excellent way to bring large teams together. 

While you might think of intranet software as platforms only found in big companies, small businesses can benefit from them too.

To decide what type of intranet is best for your small business, think about the resources you have on hand and the size of your team.

Some enterprise intranet solutions require at least 50 users. So if you’re a smaller company, it might be best to look for alternatives. If you’re on a budget, you may consider a cloud-based intranet software rather than an on-premise one. This option will be less complicated and cheaper for you to deploy.

You could choose a free, open source intranet software. But remember that nothing is truly “free.” There are hidden costs associated with open source software, and we will discuss this later.

Choosing an Intranet Software as an HR Manager

If you’re an HR manager, you may have been tasked with choosing an enterprise intranet solution. For those new to the world of corporate intranets, this can be an intimidating task. There are many intranet software packages out there. You might even find yourself suffering from decision fatigue.

So how can you ensure you’re selecting the best enterprise intranet software?

It goes without saying that every company is different. To choose the best corporate intranet, take the time to evaluate your needs first. Before looking at intranets, you should have a solid idea of your budget and your “must-have” and “nice-to-have” requirements.

Features will vary between solutions. But there are some characteristics we think every intranet software must have.

Here are seven characteristics you should look for in an enterprise intranet solution:

  1. Modern social features
  2. Efficient technical support
  3. File management capabilities
  4. An easy way to share corporate information
  5. User analytics
  6. Easy accessibility
  7. An intuitive user interface.

Let’s dive into these characteristics in more detail. But before we do that, it’s fundamental for an intranet to tick two big boxes:

  • It needs to be useful
  • It needs to be engaging.

Watch our Senior Solutions Consultant, Robert Dumigan, in the video below. In it, he covers how we purposefully designed and built Workvivo to tick both of these boxes.

Is Open Source Intranet Software a Good Solution?

Earlier in this article, we mentioned open-source intranet software. If you’re not sure what this is, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

OpenSource.com defines it as “software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.”

Basically, if you choose to use an open source intranet, your developers can contribute to and modify it.

By nature, most open source software is “free” to use. However, this doesn’t mean it’s actually free of cost. Don’t forget that time is money, and you’ll need to pay developers to build, update, and maintain it.

While open source software can be a good temporary option if you’re just starting out, in the long term, you might want to consider using an off-the-shelf solution. Simply put, ready-made software will be easier for you to use and maintain.

So if you plan to use open source intranet software, it’s worth keeping in mind its limitations.

Many business owners are cautious about using open-source software. In an interview with CMSWire, Jed Cawthorne of BMO Financial Group had this to say:

“In my nine years as a consultant, I can say I have come across exactly one—yes, just a single one—‘enterprise’ intranet built on open source platforms. And as far as I know, that enterprise is now migrating off its homegrown open source-based solution…”

Jed Cawthorne of BMO Financial Group Tweet

7 Characteristics Every Enterprise Intranet Solution Needs

Remember those seven characteristics we mentioned earlier? This section will explain what they are and why they’re essential in all enterprise intranet solutions.

An intranet with social, mobile-first features

1. Modern Social Features

Not every intranet is a social intranet. But at Workvivo, we’re big believers in social and think it’s a must-have for any corporate intranet. Social intranets function just like social media; employees can use them to interact by liking and commenting on each other’s posts.

Why is social media functionality so key? Because employees want and expect it. Today’s internet users love social media; the average person spent nearly 2.5 hours on social networks each day in 2020. Social intranets encourage employees to engage more with their job.

In remote workplaces, keeping strong ties with colleagues is especially important. 

Gallup polls show that working remotely has a complex effect on employee well-being. While many employees enjoy remote work, they risk suffering from additional stress, loneliness, and anxiety. Whether your business is remote, in-person, or a mix of both, choosing a social intranet is an investment in your company culture and long-term success.

2. Efficient Technical Support

Another must for any enterprise intranet solution is great technical support. If you’ve ever spent hours on the phone with an unhelpful support team, you know how frustrating this can be. Poor technical support is a top complaint on Capterra for corporate intranet solutions.

Choose an intranet with great technical support

In a perfect world, support should be responsive with a personalized touch. To get the best technical support, look for a product with great reviews. 

Gary B. on Capterra had this to say about Workvivo’s support and platform:

3. File Management Capabilities

File management is another key feature of enterprise intranet software. Large and mid-sized companies share dozens or even hundreds of files each day.

Important information can get lost in long emails and messages. That’s why an organizational tool is essential. Centralized file-sharing allows you to increase efficiency and decrease communication mishaps.

You’ll no longer have to send endless email reminders or documents to users that have lost them. An intranet merges all your company’s important files and announcements in one place.

4. An Easy Way to Share Corporate Information

A good intranet should provide an easy way for management to share information with the team. Keeping people up to speed with memos and announcements is crucial. It’s important to ensure everyone knows what’s happening in your company.

Corporate communications are vital not only for efficiency but also for employee engagement. Frequent communication keeps employees from feeling “out of the loop.”                                                    It helps them stay in touch with the company’s mission and purpose. When done well, communication can lead to stronger performance. 

Willis Towers Watson research shows companies with good communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to top their peers.

5. User Analytics

HR data is becoming more important for many companies, for example, Google and Apple. Most HR departments gather and analyze data to measure the ROI of their initiatives.

Data helps you increase efficiency and gives an overview of what’s going on in the business. Data-driven organizations are three times more likely to communicate notable improvements in decision-making.

Workvivo gives you the data you need to understand who is using your intranet, when, and why. These insights provide clues about employee engagement and internal dynamics in your company.

6. Easy Accessibility

Your intranet software should be easy for your employees to access. A smooth login process will encourage employees to use the intranet more often.

As more companies move to remote work, many are seeing the value of cloud-based software (SaaS). Workvivo is a cloud-based software. Employees can access Workvivo anywhere, any time, without needing a corporate device. 93% of organizations are already adopting or considering the cloud as of 2018. SaaS has already become the norm. Employees have come to expect this level of flexibility from their workplace software.

7. An Intuitive User Interface

Finally, your enterprise intranet solution should have an intuitive user interface. An intuitive interface should be appealing. Research has shown that users tend to prefer nice-looking products and they should also be easy to use.

Choosing an easy-to-use intranet will increase adoption among your staff. It’ll also spare them a visit to the IT department.

Here’s what Capterra user Stephen H. had to say about Workvivo’s interface:

Conclusion

There are many factors to think about when choosing an enterprise intranet software. Usability, analytics, accessibility, and support are all contributing factors. Selecting a product with the right blend of features is key.

The amount of choice out there can seem overwhelming. It’s worth putting in the research to ensure you’re satisfied with your final decision. Choosing the correct intranet will deliver fantastic results. It’ll save you from months of employee complaints.

The perfect product for your company might already be around the corner. If you want to improve employee engagement and performance, an intranet is 100% worth it. Remote work presents new challenges for many companies. A social intranet could be what you need to give company culture and performance a boost.

Want to hear more about how an enterprise intranet solution could work for your business, book a demo with our friendly team.