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 a 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! 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. All before you actually 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 go over what to look for in an intranet software, so you can find one that’s right for you.

Resources to create the culture you’ve always dreamed of

What is an Enterprise Intranet Solution?

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

The prefix “intra-” means within or inside a group. So think of an “intranet” as a closed network shared between you and other members of your company. It’s a digital tool to help you exchange information within your organization.

Now…it’s important to note that intranets have changed a lot over time. The earliest intranets were little more than simple lists of links. As time went on, companies began to build in more and more features. Things like document directories, to employee engagement surveys, to internal social interest groups.

But why have intranets evolved so much?

Basically, to meet both 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 on that from world renowned HR analyst Josh Bersin here.

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

Good question. Sure they help centralize data and make it easy to share information with employees. But what’s even more important is the sense of community and belonging facilitated.

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 a challenge.

Make it useful, engaging, and easy to administer. That’s how you’re going to increase engagement and productivity. In fact, McKinsey highlights that productivity can increase by 20 to 25% from social tech.

Intranet Software for Small Businesses

While you might think of intranet software as platforms that are 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. Plus 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 want to consider a cloud-based intranet software rather than an on-premise one. Trust us, this will be way 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 (we’ll talk more about this later).

Intranet Software for HR Managers

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 a lot of intranet software packages out there. You might even find yourself suffering from decision fatigue.

So how can you make sure you’re selecting the best intranet software?

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

It goes without saying that features will vary between solutions. But there are some characteristics we think every intranet software must-have.

Here are 7 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 important to know that an intranet needs to fundamentally tick 2 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 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, a 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? In this section, we’ll explain what they are, and why they’re so important to have in your enterprise intranet solution.

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 with one another 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 also 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 software.

In a perfect world, support should be responsive with a personalized touch. To get the best technical support, look for a product that has constant great reviews. We’re proud that Gary B. on Capterra had this to say about Workvivo’s support and platform:

3. File Management Capabilities

File management is another key feature for 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 will allow 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 make sure everyone knows what’s going on in your company.

Corporate communications are important 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 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 have access to Workvivo anywhere, any time and without the need for 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 exactly what you need to give company culture and performance a boost.