An intranet is a private website that can only be accessed by people within your company. When you create an intranet, you give your staff somewhere to view and share information relating to your company.
Creating an intranet can make it easier for your staff to find and access company information, share resources and reduce costs.
Intranets come in different shapes and sizes. Yours can be anything from a small collection of web pages to a substantial website with advanced features that allow employees to book holidays, log absences and take training.
Creating an intranet site can benefit your company in many ways. For instance:
It can be hard to anticipate all possible uses for your intranet from day one.
Rather than try to build capabilities you might end up not using, it can be better to create your intranet with some basic features, then add functions as the need arises.
Even the smallest companies can benefit from creating a simple intranet to store important information and documents.
If you’re not sure whether to create an intranet, see if you’d answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions. If so, you might find an intranet useful.
If you’ve decided to create an intranet, you need to decide what you want it to do and what information you’re going to include.
For instance, if your employees require quick access to your customer database, you might build this into the intranet, offering a log in option on the home page.
When creating your intranet, it’s important to involve your staff from an early stage. After all, they’re the people who will have to use it!
You should make someone in your business responsible for creating the intranet and keeping the project on track.
It can also be a good idea to work with a specialist intranet designer or consultant to understand how an intranet could help your business. There may be less-obvious intranet features that could really make your life easier.
Ultimately, aim to create a list of intranet requirements that set out what you want your intranet to do. To help you prioritise the most important features, you can categorise these into ‘must haves’, ‘nice to haves’ and ‘extras’.
Once you’ve established your requirements, you can evaluate intranet software packages to determine which best meet them.
Intranets are created using the same underlying technologies as other websites, so it is possible to build one from the ground up. However, most small companies find it cheaper and easier to customise intranet software.
Just like your company website, your intranet needs to be hosted somewhere. You have two main options:
Intranet hosting services are also referred to as cloud intranet services. If you don’t already have a server in your business, a hosting service is almost certainly the more straightforward option.
Creating your intranet is only the start. Once it’s up and running, it’s important you put in time and effort to manage it. This is where some intranets fail.
Information overload is a common problem. Because it’s really easy to publish material, it’s tempting to put everything on your intranet. This makes it hard for your staff to find what they actually need.
To combat this problem and ensure information stays up-to-date, give your staff a sense of ownership over your intranet. Make someone is responsible for maintaining each area – and build time for this into their schedule.
Some business intranets are under-used. This tends to happen when employees don’t know what they can do with the intranet, or find it hard to navigate.
Involving staff in the intranet right from the start will help ensure your business intranet is truly useful. You can also run training sessions to explain what your intranet offers.