Last Updated: March 2021
The Current State of Enterprise Intranets
These days, most corporations have their own intranet, which is somewhat like the internet except for the fact that it’s only accessible to those within the company. However, Intranets are not just useful for large enterprises, SMEs can benefit from them hugely too.
An intranet means that internal communications within a company are simplified substantially and make for more success in terms of growth, as productivity increases.
In Elcom's recent survey of its intranet clients, a massive 79% of respondents said their intranet helped with better communication and sharing of updates, and 74% found their intranet provided staff with easy access to information.
It’s basically an internal database which every employee can access, with different permissions for various staff.
For example, it’s doubtful that you want junior office staff to be able to access all of your financial reports and forecasts for the year, so these are just given permissions to access certain areas of the intranet which is relevant to their job.
According to Microsoft, “In order for a company to succeed, all players must understand its goals. Neither long-term nor short-term goals should be confined to upper management meetings. It's Business 101. Everyone needs to be working toward common goals”.
By building an intranet, employees and bosses alike can share information across the board; not only is it easier to set up and share appointments and information, but as a part of an intranet, employees can communicate better, leading to less confusion following meetings, when everyone has to take notes and remember everything afterwards.
Not only that but intranets have evolved dramatically over the past decade as CMS and social are added and the introduction of cloud computing often means that an intranet can be accessed from anywhere. This is ideal in these days of BYOD and telecommuting, as it makes for a more flexible workforce and again, ups productivity
That’s even before we go into the benefits presented by ROI, which can be substantial, depending on what model you use and the size of your business.
Developing an Intranet
It’s a good idea to carry out sound planning before implementing an Intranet; whilst they can and will benefit a business of any size, needs vary and so it’s worth investing primarily in a decent consultancy firm. These will be able to carry out an audit of your company and recommend what will benefit your business the most.
A modern intranet should be well organised and easy for users to navigate, especially if you don’t want to spend a fortune training your staff; again, this is something that can be discussed with a consultant.
A well planned business infrastructure is much more likely to be a successful one and one that your company can see clear intranet benefits from. The ability to share internal information across the whole of your staff often does away with the need to constantly send internal memos and emails.
Discussion boards on an intranet can also help staff to come up with collaborative ideas before meetings or when working on a project, cutting down the time needed for physical meetings as everyone is aware of their position on a project.
Further benefits of an Enterprise Intranet
Ever had a few employees from different departments working on the same document? By using an intranet you can do away with the confusion of which document or spreadsheet is the latest version as it’s updated in real time, without the need for sending back and forth via email.
Configuring an intranet for use with a decent CMS is also very useful as content can be developed and shared easily across an organisation. HR can benefit enormously as they can see at a click who is taking a vacation when and again, according to Microsoft, it can “provide your employees with information on policies, benefits, company updates, and other information [which] can be time-consuming, expensive, and unproductive. If that information is organised and located in one central database, it will enable your workforce to concentrate on other tasks”.
It’s also possible to share calendars, meeting requests, files and even instant messaging in order for employees to ask another person working with them questions quickly.
Onboarding new employees, for example, through an intranet with forms and workflow automation, can significantly improve processes. Employees can fill in new employment related forms such as medical and emergency contact forms prior to starting at the company. Workflows can be triggered to notify all relevant parties to undertake the processes and checks for new staff members. On their first day, they can gain access to a section of the intranet dedicated to onboarding with information about the company, a CEO message, organisation chart, an events calendar, knowledge base and much more.
Image credit: Worldwide Intranet Challenge website.
As you can see from the illustration above, courtesy of the Worldwide Intranet Challenge website, the benefits far outweigh the initial capital investment, as communication within the workplace is considerably improved.
How to improve your company's time management skills
Time management is a big benefit to having an intranet – how many times have you sent an internal email only to find yourself waiting hours for a response? An intranet can allow staff to access the information they need without going through a third party and, as the saying goes, time is money.
These days, it’s vital that your company has some form of intranet, they don’t have to be costly to set up initially, although of course there will be some outlay, but you will soon come to appreciate the benefits of increased productivity, a happier workforce (especially if you integrate social) and an all-round more streamlined organisation.
Another benefit is that your company can grow with the intranet, it’s not difficult to add more users and assign permissions and this means that, even if you begin with a simple intranet, it can evolve as your company does.
Payroll, invoicing, HR, stock control are just a few of the benefits that an intranet can automate, freeing up staff to be productive in other areas and doing away with the need for endless spreadsheets and so on, which people often have open at the same, creating conflicting information and therefore confusion.
There are too many benefits to having an intranet, no matter what the size of your organisation, to list, but you can be certain that by implementing one you will see a ROI in many areas of the company.
The complexity of the intranet CMS software you choose will of course depend on the nature of your business, but it’s safe to say that whichever model you choose it will be beneficial to both your business and your employees.