Introduction

A growing list of vendors have emerged on the intranet space in the recent years, offering a variety of functionality, architecture, design and services. While intranets-in-a-box are definitely appealing for those concerned about timings, for others it’s all about the personalization and customized layouts.

But so many options only make it harder for organizations to find the best match to suit their needs. To give you a quick-start to your decision, we’ve created our intranets checklist. Follow our tips for zeroing in on features and technical requirements to look for and put all the pieces together to make the right choice.

Feature Set

Each intranet project is different depending upon many factors. But in reality every intranet manager aims the same main goals: engage and connect all employees, support their daily activities and reflect the company’s unique culture. What are the key functionality your intranet should have to support those goals? Typical intranet needs should be covered by these handful of features:

  • “Who is who” employee and office directories
  • Events calendar, with all the relevant company activities plan
  • News and internal announcements
  • User-friendly employee services such as leave/holiday requests, health benefits and expense claims
  • Content repository for all business related documents and policies

 

News Publishing

As highlighted above, the main goal of most intranet portals is to act as a news center and disseminate corporate information. Nowadays, personalization is imperative, so ensure there are options to segment news audiences and target content to different profiles, e.g. different departments, regions, seniority, etc.

Look out for image editing and rendering tools as well as customization possibilities of the editing and publishing workflows. Different news topics should follow approval tracks within their corresponding business department!

Interactivity

Having an intranet portal that looks like a static news website from the 90s is a no go. Social
interaction features such as comments, likes, shares, mentions and tags will transform your intranet into a powerful networking community. Consider opening your intranet to content contributions from colleagues from other departments or locations. Ensure there’s a clear, user-friendly mechanism that motivates involvement rather than discouraging participation with too much bureaucracy.

A “wild card” some intranet solutions already provide is an “idea bank” for crowdsourcing new ideas, promoting co-creation and rewarding creativity. If your organization already has Office 365 fully rolled out, integrations with Teams, Delve and Yammer will provide a cohesive interface to other O365/Microsoft applications.

Ease of Use

Content editors and end-users alike typically find that their intranet doesn’t offer the easiest, most attractive user experience. Be sure this is not the case. Your intranet platform should offer a website-like experience and be easy to use by people with all technical abilities, since content will probably be managed by marketers or internal communication professionals within HR teams.

 

Mobile Access

Even if most technology vendors will claim their platforms are mobile-ready, on a closer look, some might only offer this for selected features, pages or applications. Ensuring a responsive, mobile and touch-friendly interface for all sites, pages and content will make a huge difference in user adoption, especially if your company has dispersed workforces, working remotely or on the go. You might even find it useful to have an intranet mobile app with handy push notifications.

Theming and Branding

Since intranets-in-a-box are ready-made packages, you might feel straight-jacketed by the design and customization restrictions. Evaluate the different options available and what are your must-have requirements for brand look & feel. If lack of visual customization can be a deal-breaker for you, remember to prioritize a solution that ensures you keep consistency in branding and provide a unified experience to users across business platforms.

Built-in Analytics

Statistics to measure intranet effectiveness, users’ behavior and other useful metrics are one of the areas where the right solution can make a difference for intranet managers. Your goals can range from monitoring unused or expired content, trending search terms to becoming aware of users’ adaption and what’s going on in your intranet environment.

Reporting tools vary greatly and don’t come embedded in all platforms. So depending on your expectations, you might need to anticipate/adjust the analytics and reporting capabilities when assessing your intranet solution alternatives.

Multilingual Support

Having a multilingual intranet is a requirement for most multinational companies. But your language requirements shouldn’t compromise content or experience. Research which platforms already support your required languages and which translation tools they provide.

For example, many platforms do not support page-level language switches (language switch brings you back to the homepage for that language). Automatic or machine translation doesn’t work for every organization, so you might want to opt for a solution that integrates with professional language service providers.

Non-functional requirements

Besides all the features, there are also other requirements you shouldn’t overlook, for example:

  • The extensibility of the solution, i.e. that it is not a ‘black-box’ but leaves options for future developments and integrations
  • Whether new features and security updates will be added automatically
    (Software as a Service vs Software as a Product)
  • Maturity, vision and extensibility of the platform (e.g. past history and new developments pipeline)
  • A proven track-record of client references (and a large user base)
  • A ‘local ecosystem’, i.e. local implementation teams and expertise (solutions
    may be hot in the US but without a European footprint)
  • The license model and whether it’s based on individual users or on
    blocks of users, an all-inclusive or modular package

Launch Strategy

Even when it’s an improvement over previous platforms, a new intranet still represents a change which some users might not be eager about. Involving users early in planning the project will ease adoption when the new platform launches, while contributing to improve its overall usability. Because it’s such a make or break matter for your intranet success, change management shouldn’t be left as an afterthought - this is why it’s so important to choose the right implementation partner.

Value-added consultancy services will ensure your organization is equipped from the start with effective strategies for change management and ongoing improvement. Depending on your own internal resources, your partner can cover the technical aspects such as content auditing, information architecture and governance, or even user training.

Face-to-face training sessions, quick reference guides or interactive workshops can go a long way to raise staff awareness. It’s also important to define what success will look like for your portal and establish ongoing plans and follow-up activities to measure key objectives, get user feedback and monitor how user adoption is tracking. This careful planning and guidance will ensure your project stays on track, drives effective user adoption and adds to the long-term viability of your new intranet.

Final tips

The intranet is just one component of a larger digital workplace ecosystem of tools and services, and choosing the right technology will determine whether your intranet becomes a usable, useful and a good social collaboration tool.

While our checklist is aimed at minimizing the complexity of the evaluation and decision-making process, you should also use your organization’s goals to narrow the selection criteria. Gathering an internal, multidisciplinary “intranet team” to lead the project is an effective approach to find the best value match for your needs - modern intranets are all about collaboration and teamwork after all. Besides ticking all the must-have items on this list, when you’ve shortlisted your potential vendors call them and see how available they are to answer all your questions. That should give you a feel of what it will be like to work with them in the future. Watch webinars, demo videos and read the documentation to assess if the software is really easy to learn and use. Finally, ask for a live demonstration of your final contenders to get the chance to actually experiment working with the software that you think is the right choice

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Traditional intranets are shifting rapidly. Today’s workforces demand dynamic and personalized environments. Modern businesses need intelligent workspaces that connect people, information, tools and culture. AMPLEXOR Next-Generation Intranets take internal communications to a new level: from ready-to-go intranets to fully tailored collaborative ecosystems.

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Table of Contents

The Ultimate Intranet Checklist 

A must-read to kick off your intranet project!

Looking for a clear, easy-to-follow path to a new intranet? Our free checklist covers all you should consider when planning the best intranet solution for your organization:

✔ Ready-to-go vs customized intranet platforms

✔ Must-have features

✔ Technical requirements

✔ Analytics and KPI monitoring capabilities

✔ Launch and user adoption strategies

✔ ...and more!

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