There is no end to features that IT is possible for an intranet to have – and there are some that I’ve seen that must have nearly all of them. However, as you might expect, what is most often the case is that only a mere handful of these features and functions actually ever end up getting used.
Companies often decide that they need an intranet when they make the realization that communications between employees and/or remote offices are starting to break down and are costing in terms of both time and productivity. Other times, it’s a case of a management decree that states that a company’s information needs to shared more efficiently.
In the end, intranets are all about increasing the speed and efficiency of connections and communications within a company. They are mostly used by employees who need ready and relevant information upfront to complete their jobs as quickly as possible. Employees also want the same ease of access to HR tools, and to make sure that they are in proper receipt of any benefits that they may be entitled to.
Intranets are great for this, and a whole lot more besides. They make up an invaluable knowledge pool of all of a company’s resources, meaning that employees can be kept up to date on everything that’s happening in the company at any given time, as well as access any information that they may need.
The ability to share data between users within the secure confines of a firewall – yet, importantly, without sacrificing on access to the greater web at large – is something that is extremely reassuring to an organization that no amount of sensitive information can accessed outside of the company, yet still the workforce is not hindered by limited web access.
But it’s what happens within the confines of that firewall that is the measure of an intranet’s true success. Great intranets have a great social dynamic, and a great approach to keeping a company’s internal users constantly engaged.
So, with all this in mind, let’s take a look at the top 3 features that make up a successful intranet.
1. Well-populated User Profiles
People make up intranets. And so one of the most useful features of a successful intranet is to make sure that IT is fully furnished with accurate, up to date and well-populated user profiles.
You may have 20, 30 or 50 or more people working for you. And, when you start to get into figures like this, IT is extremely unlikely that every single one of your employees will be completely informed as to what the job roles are of every single one of their colleagues. They might not even be fully aware of the precise ordering of the chain of command, or exactly whom to turn to if they encounter a problem or require a very specific piece of information.
An intranet with fully completed user profiles cuts through these issues instantaneously. Employees need not even leave their desk to find out whom to turn to for whatever they need to complete the job at hand.
Contact details are essential for every employee on an intranet. This way, when a worker needs to check with the legal department, sales department, marketing department or what have you, they can find out the extension number in just a couple of clicks, and get on the case straight away.
Another useful feature of a fully optimized employee directory is the element of presence. If a certain person is away from their desk – or perhaps even on vacation for the next couple of weeks – this information can be presented, so the employee knows which avenues are currently closed off for communication purposes, meaning that they should start to search elsewhere. This cuts down as well on the irritation of sending an email or leaving a voicemail for someone only to find out 2 days later that they’re on sick leave and won’t be back for the foreseeable future.
2. Content Repository
Without access to the proper content, employees simply cannot do their jobs to the best of their abilities. They may need certain marketing tools, or sales tools, lists of legal procedures, customer and client directories, product information etc.
All of this information – and a lot more besides – can be placed on the intranet, making IT easy to access for all members of staff. As such, IT is important that a powerful search function is part of your intranet, and that tagging of any new content that is posted is enabled – it’s no good having all the information there if nobody can find it.
It’s also a good idea to include a comments section beneath every piece of content that goes live. This will encourage discussion on all topics, and any questions or queries raised can be addressed quickly.
3. Collaboration Portals And Platforms
Sometimes, your employees will need to form sub-teams to complete specified projects – and the best intranets offer support for this. Emails can only do so much, and they can be a pain to scroll through, clicking on each one to find the information that you need.
But with a dedicated portal for collaboration purposes, any links and information can be shared privately, action plans can be formed, and progress monitored by all members of the sub-team. This is utilizing the power of intranets at its very best, and every intranet should support this function.
Contact us at V&C Solutions to see how we can help your business set up an intranet, or improve an existing one.