Building a company intranet today is a much more straightforward process than it used to be.
Long before Office 365 and SharePoint Online became widely-used platforms, companies that wanted an interactive and intelligent intranet solution had to build one entirely from scratch. Most features and capabilities had to be custom coded and deployed.
Today, Office 365 and SharePoint Online come with a wide variety of communication and collaboration capabilities that were not available in the market before, enabling businesses of all sizes to leverage those capabilities from anywhere in the world. This means employees can share and manage documents easily, receive timely information on any devices, access and perform automated tasks, and much more, all through one centralized platform.
While other software tools like Dropbox, Box, Slack, etc. have certainly gained popularity, there are 3 specific reasons why your company may want to invest in building a more intelligent digital workplace (Intranet and/or Extranet).
1. An Intranet can remove the bad habit of mass e-mailing company-wide updates.
If you don’t have an intranet for your company, people will default to their most convenient form of communication: email.
This may work for a small startup, but consider what hundreds of mass emails look like for an organization with even fifty people—let alone five hundred, or five thousand. For example, one of our clients at Optimum, an engineering and construction company, came to us solely to solve their email problems. Their leadership team was constantly bombarding people with emails with company updates, while the Marketing, IT, and HR teams were also sending mass emails to all employees. At a certain point, people didn’t know what was worth paying attention to and what wasn’t—and if they wanted to go back and find a specific thread, they had to spend 20 minutes digging through their email.
What we did was build an intelligent workplace for them inside the Office 365 environment. By moving all company-wide updates, news, documents, and workflows to the new Intranet, employees can now opt-in to receive email updates on specific items, share and access documents and company knowledge, get their asks done online, or just simply go to the Intranet to collaborate and communicate with their peers across departments.
2. An intranet can consolidate and manage all electronic content and tasks in one place.
Every single company struggles with content and task organization.
If there is no intranet what enables document and content management, people are going to end up storing documents wherever is most convenient for them. Some will choose to email documents back and forth with one another. Others will use whichever file-storage system they’re most familiar with: Google Drive, Dropbox, Teams, etc. And in the process, not only will there not be one central location where everything is stored and maintained, but no one will ever know if they are looking at the latest version of any single document.
Usually, whenever we work with companies on this, the first thing we do is create a roadmap for their Electronic Content Management and company Collaboration/Communication. It’s not really realistic to jump from no intranet (or an outdated intranet) right into an intelligent digital workplace. So what we do is put all their content in order, and build a foundation that allows them to manage their content properly and gradually add more collaboration and communication features along the way—such as having departmental sites, where “power users” from each department are trained on how to keep their own sites and pages updated.
However, not all companies are going to be starting from the same level of maturity and readiness, so it’s important to create a content and collaboration roadmap based on the company’s specific size, needs, and growth trajectory.
3. An intranet allows for more effective company-wide collaboration and communication.
Nowadays, people tend to travel more, work remotely, and are usually not in the same office.
Some of the older versions of digital workplaces require employees to be inside their office, to at a specific “point” in order to access company documents, messages, etc. But today’s newer platforms usually provide a native app you can install on your machine and your mobile devices, allowing you to stay connected wherever you are.
For example, let’s say the company needs to alert all employees that the office will be closed due to a storm. Even if you are not in the office, or you are on vacation, you can get a notification on your phone or tablet to keep you in the loop on what’s happening—opposed to needing to find an internet connection and log into your work laptop.
However, the key to integrating a digital workplace into your company culture comes down to consistency. A lot of times, companies will invest a lot of money into building a digital workplace, only to stop maintaining and encouraging and the use of the platform. As a result, the content starts to get outdated, the look and feel starts getting boring, and people stop going there for information.
You have to remember your employees are your users—and they need to be continuously given new reasons to return back to the digital environment.
In conclusion, while implementing an Office 365-based Intranet solution might sound easy and straightforward, there are a lot of considerations that go into designing the platform correctly, mapping and migrating your content properly, and implementing the right collaboration and communication features for your organization’s unique needs and Cloud maturity.