5 things you must assess when evaluating your intranet products

Choosing, customizing and deploying an intranet solution can be a tricky business. Get it right and your business could see benefits that include an increase in employee efficiency, engagement, communication, productivity, and flexible working. Get it wrong and your organization could be left with an expensive white elephant. So when searching for a new intranet product, what should you be looking out for?

1. Customization and security

Firstly, one size does not fit all. The requirements of your company will be different, albeit subtly, from any other, including those of a similar size within the same industry. Therefore it makes sense to choose a product that can be individually tailored to your needs. Unfortunately, the level of customization of some ‘intranet as a service’ offerings are minimal due to their multi-tenant nature – significantly changing one element of a product for one client will make the same changes for all of those on the same system architecture. Single tenant offerings allow for businesses to have a greater level of customization to meet their specific requirements.

The other significant benefit of single tenant architectures is greater security. As there is only one business on each architecture, there is significantly less risk of an outsider accessing proprietary data, either accidentally or through corporate sabotage.

Of course there is the third way – hybrid. These solutions combine single tenant, often on-premise, architectures with multi-tenant architectures, offering many of the benefits from both – privacy and customization where you need it, yet also providing scalability and reducing the need for capital expenditure. However, very few intranet products can provide a seamless end-to-end transition between the two environments. Unily is one of the few intranet products to utilize Microsoft’s Hybrid Search, which enables users to search and access content across on-premise and cloud environments.

2. Intuitive collaboration and communication

Some of the main reasons for deploying an intranet product are for improving employee engagement, collaboration and communication. Being able to effectively work and communicate together wherever they happen to be is key for driving employee productivity. The only worthwhile intranet solutions are the ones that allow this to happen simply and intuitively while offering a range of applications that lend themselves to collaborative working, no matter what languages are involved.

3. Using your existing technology stack or getting a new one

Microsoft Office 365 is by far and away the most popular enterprise cloud service, with most companies of 100 or more employees using at least one of its applications . As such, it makes sense to deploy an intranet solution that fully integrates Office 365 and enables users to access all its applications, allowing businesses to continue using what they know or to upgrade.

Office 365 offers some of the best collaboration, communication and flexible working suite of tools available on the market; these include well-known brands such as Office, Skype and Yammer.

BrightStarr has produced an easy to use guide about how the Office 365 products can work together and be further enhanced using other software - Cloud Intranet Solutions with Office 365.

4. Ease of employees’ adoption of your a new intranet product

Engagement with an intranet is not just about the product itself. Management need to make sure that any new solution meets the needs of its employees and that they know how to use it, otherwise they won’t.

Much of this work includes listening to users about the products they are currently working with; what their tasks, priorities and goals are; understanding the current technology stack and so on.

Training costs both in terms of time, money and loss of productivity, for completely new systems can be restrictive. Instead, choose intranet products that can easily integrate existing solutions or those solutions that users may already be familiar with.

5. Ease of set up and on going support

Once the nature and features of your intranet have been decided upon, the next step is to implement it. Firms are often put off by perceived complexity of rolling out a new intranet, but this does not have to be the case. The simplicity of Unily means that it can be deployed within a matter of short weeks to any specifications. Furthermore, Unily is managed, with technicians monitoring your platform and customer success managers working with you to drive better adoption. This is all part of the Unily package to make sure you are always supported by individuals that know you and your business intimately.

To get the best from your intranet product and ensure costs are predictable and manageable, it is worth making sure the provider includes any ongoing updates, maintenance, troubleshooting and consultancy in its subscription service. Also ask your provider if they provide a service uptime Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is important as once your intranet is a critical business tool your employees need to be able to access it whenever they need.

For more information about how to ensure that you get the intranet solution that your organization needs get in touch with one of our offices.

Matt Harding Global Head of Engineering

A mastermind architect who knows SharePoint inside out, building world-class solutions for the enterprise.

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