If you’re on the hunt for a new intranet for your organisation, you’ve likely experienced how truly complex the search can be.
There are options of on premise or in the cloud, features to compare and integrations to consider - among the many things to consider for your intranet to be successful.
But one of the single biggest deciding factors of whether your implementation will be a success or not is your choice of intranet platform providers.
Here are the six essential best practices to consider when making your choice.
1. Track Record
When implemented correctly and with care, a modern intranet can provide substantial benefits for your organisation; as such, you won’t want to risk working with an unreliable or inexperienced intranet provider.
It’s important to ask how long the platform provider has been in business and to search for testimonials from their current and past clients.
Ask the intranet provider about similar organisations to yours that they work with, and the results of similar implementations within your industry.
Don't be afraid to delve deep into their intranet design guidelines and principles. A reputable intranet provider will have the evidence to back up their expertise, as well as be at the forefront of industry best practices.
A trustworthy provider will also be able to provide you with client references for you to call and pose your own questions to.
2. Customisation and Flexibility
Just as every organisation is different, so are its needs when it comes to implementing an intranet.
You’ll want to feel confident that your intranet provider has the ability to customise the content management system (CMS) platform that is used to manage the intranet to suit the way your organisation runs.
Some providers will offer an out-of-the-box solution with customisation only to the branding and colour scheme, while others will let you build a solution completely from scratch to suit your needs.
An intranet platform provider such as Elcom offers a middle ground between the two; an out-of-the-box CMS, with the ability to custom build extra functionality and tailor solutions to suit your needs.
During your initial consultation with a potential provider, check that they will be able to customise your intranet the way you need it, or support your in-house developers to do so – including any integrations you might need such as with Active Directory, SharePoint, Microsoft Office or Salesforce.
Also ask how it integrates with the solution, that is, what information is pulled through (and pushed back) and how will it be shown on the intranet.
3. On-Site Training
The use of online social tools can increase employee productivity by 20-25%, and a searchable record of knowledge can decrease the time workers spend searching for information by 35%. But these figures are only achievable when your team is comfortable using your intranet communication software.
Even the most intuitive systems can require some training and assistance to make the most of the system’s full features.
A reputable intranet provider will have the capability for onsite training and provide clear resources to guide you and your staff through the implementation process, content population and management.
Ask the provider what resources they have to ensure you best leverage the solution. They may also be able to assist your in-house developers with SDK, API and custom functionality.
Security is a critical consideration whether you’re using an on premise or cloud based intranet solution. The last thing you need is for your organisation’s data to become compromised, or for the wrong stakeholders to access data that they shouldn’t be able to see.
When consulting with potential intranet providers, be sure to ask about their commitment to security and data protection.
The right provider will have robust and configurable security settings within their intranet CMS software to ensure data is only accessed by the right people. For example, what safeguards are in place to provide penetration testing results against common attack vectors (XSS, DDOS, Brute force, SQL injection etc.), and how often are these performed.
5. Support and Communication
You’ll probably know from the very first interaction with an intranet provider how easy or difficult they are to interact with.
How long does it take for them to respond to your requests? If they need more time to source information from their team, do they send you a courtesy email to let you know your request is being looked at? Are they on-time to meetings? Is information delivered in a timely manner? How robust is the information they provide? All these cues will give you an insight into what it will be like to work with them on the project.
The right provider will have a project team on hand to help you identify a solution that answers your current frustrations, fits within your budget and meets your implementation time-frame. The relationship also shouldn’t end with the launch of your intranet either!
Look for signs and testimonials that indicate the provider will be there with reliable support and resources to ensure continued success post-launch. Do they have a local or off-shore call center? Can you get phone support during your office hours? How are support tickets handled? Will you be assigned an Account Manager post-launch?
6. Future-proofing Capabilities
Will your digital workplace be able to grow as your business does? As your organisation scales and adapts, your corporate intranet software should be able to keep up. The key to this capability lies with the provider.
Can you extend the functionality if requirements change in the future? Does the solution provide update capabilities for any new releases such as upgrades, new applications, system rectification and maintenance? Can it integrate with external or third party systems that you will introduce in the future?
If they are asking questions about where you may want to take your business in the future, this is a good sign that they are considering important factors like updates, additional functionality and further integrations – all invaluable factors to help your organisation flourish.
Once you’ve consulted with a provider about your specific needs and have experienced a live demo or free trial of the intranet software itself, you’ll have many of the answers to whether or not a provider will be the right fit for your organisation.
How do you select a vendor and solution that delivers all these different capabilities and best fits your organisation?
We've put together this guide that will help you through the key elements of evaluating and buying an intranet solution that truly meet the needs of your organisation. We've also included a bonus detailed checklist to compare intranet solutions.