10 Tips When Choosing an Intranet Portal

tips for choosing an intranet portal

When it comes to running a business, streamlining internal processes can make or break a successful and efficient workplace versus a less productive and engaged one. An intranet portal can be a major benefit for any business, because every employee, regardless of industry, needs easy access to the right information and people.

Especially in the post pandemic era, the ability to work remotely and incorporate flexibility into how teams work together has never been more important. Because of this demand, there’s many vendors on the market offering similiar features.

That’s why it’s important to define specific goals for your intranet portal and to think through how you envision users to utilize the platform. This holds your investment accountable and helps you select the right intranet portal for your organization.

Fortunately, there are a handful of factors that a strong intranet platform should have. These features will help you determine stronger candidates from your pool of options.

If you’re in the market for intranet software, here are 10 guidelines to point you in the right direction.

1. Keep your business goals in mind.

intranet portal software

When choosing an intranet portal, it can be difficult to know where to start. You’ll get a great deal of mileage out of defining what your intranet objectives are for your business, as it’s important to find software that will help facilitate meeting them.

You may be looking to add new online collaboration tools to increase productivity and improve project management for departments. Or maybe you want to ehance the customer experience and distribute information to clients and specific groups.

Understand what your expectations are so you know what to look for.

2. Look for an intranet portal with an engaging UI.

intranet portal homepage

It’s important to have an engaging and easy-to-customize user interface. If your intranet is cluttered and lacks care in the design, why should anyone else care to use it?

The fact is that your intranet’s UI can make the world of a difference for user adoption, engagement, and value. The UI has a direct correlation to the functionality of your entire site, which is the most important factor for an effective business software. The power of your intranet homepage, alone, can influence the user experience.

Be sure to explore what customization looks like for different intranet portal vendors. Can you add colors, logos, and branding easily to your pages? If you want to move tabs around in the navigation bar, how do you do it? Can you rename and reorder tools built into the platform? Do you need to use coding and HTML to do any of this?

It’s important to ask these questions because you do not want to discover during implementation that you’ll need to overhaul internal resources or spend more budget on hidden costs. The best intranet portal is easy to use and design, giving you control over expectations and the user experience.

3. Decide on a style for your intranet portal.

intranet portals activity stream

As intranet portal software becomes more popular, new and innovative styles are beginning to pop up all over the place.

This being said, many platforms tend to borrow stylistic elements from popular social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, and for a variety of reasons.

For one, it’s quite likely that at least a fair amount of your employees are already familiar with these services and know how to operate them.

Second, established social networks are that for a reason — they feature a streamlined, effective design. The ways in which your intranet operates have to jive with you, as you’ll be immensely unhappy with the experience otherwise.

Always take the look and feel of a potential software option into consideration before making any quick decisions regarding which platform to buy.

4. Consider integrations with your intranet portal.

intranet portal integrations

Integration is one of the most important things to look for when shopping for an intranet, yet many people forget all about it.

There’s a solid chance that your business already has a fair amount of logistical processes already set in motion — sales and marketing come to mind.

The whole point of using an intranet, however, is to minimize the amount of applications that need to be utilized for daily business activity.

As a result, your platform needs to allow you to integrate all of your processes without any issue. If you can’t get through your day without using the intranet portal for 90% of the activities you carry out, you’re going to want a different piece of software to work off of.

5. Don’t neglect the flexibility and customizations of intranet portals.

intranet portal software

Your business doesn’t take a cookie-cutter approach, so why should your intranet?

Many intranet portals can be considered “one-size-fits-all” in that they don’t offer even the smallest margin flexibility.

This is bad for a number of reasons, chief among them is the fact that you’re unable to shift any aspect of your network to better suit your business needs.

As your business grows, your intranet needs to grow with it. Neglecting flexibility and the ability to customize it “how you see fit” won’t do you any favors in this regard and should never be allowed to happen.

You can usually tell if social intranet software is “one-size-fits-all” or flexible, as the former often bills itself as being exceptionally easy to use and requiring very little input from the user. This may seem good at face value, but all you’ll be doing by taking this route is restricting yourself.

8 Surprising Employee Problems You Can Avoid with a Modern Intranet

6. Take reputation to heart.

Choosing a software provider to help bring your intranet portal to life is a rather big decision to make.

After all, you can plan on working off-and-on with whomever you buy from to allow your intranet to grow and breathe, so you certainly don’t want to choose hastily.

Reputation can easily come into play here, especially considering the fact that there are so many new players in the market.

intranet portal clients

Choose an intranet vendor that has a proven track record in providing effective solutions to businesses in a variety of different industries. While you may get lucky and have a good experience with a young software company, you’re far more likely to be pleased if the organization you work with has been around for a while.

7. Have a well defined vision for your intranet portal.

mobile intranet portals

If you’re looking to transition into using social intranet software, there’s a good chance that there are aspects of your business that you’d prefer to change if at all possible. No business is perfect, and some require a little tweaking in order for things to run smoothly.

Making a list of your current gripes regarding processes is a great way to ensure that the intranet portal you end up with will help to streamline things, as you can speak directly with whomever you’re working with on a purchase and explain what you’re trying to get out of an intranet.

The more clear and honest you can be, the better your chances of finding an intranet that is tailor-fit for your business.

8. Ask about technical support.

intranet portal support

Getting a new intranet platform off the ground can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, especially for companies that have never embraced a social platform in the past.

Since you’re likely to run into at least a few issues during the process, it’s of the utmost importance that the company you end up working with offers the best technical support possible.

Technical support can make all the difference in the world in terms of how difficult it is to mitigate an issue, yet so many software companies neglect providing it to their customers.

If you’re not getting the best technical support possible, you’re no doubt going to run into some frustrating moments.

9. Pay attention to communication and knowledge sharing tools.

intranet portal support

If there’s one aspect of working off an intranet portal that makes doing so preferable over using any other platform, it’s the fact that communication is made easier and more streamlined than ever before.

When this type of software is properly designed, communicating with other employees is not only a breeze, but your communications can be stored and retrieved without any issue whatsoever.

Not all software provides the same experience regarding communication tools, and some platforms are most certainly superior to others in this regard.

Always look for the most straight-forward system of communication that you can find, as you’ll have a much better experience than you might otherwise.

10. Formulate a budget and stick to it.

Building an intranet can be a relatively big investment, especially if you decide to pull out all the stops.

Every business owner needs to take budget into consideration, but you should never let cost be the ultimate guide when you’re trying to choose a piece of social business software.

After all, you’re most likely going to be using your intranet portal on a daily basis, which means there’s absolutely no room for having anything but the best on your side.

When price is all you’re concerned about, finding the right piece of software is made far more difficult than it has to be. Set a budget, but don’t hesitate to step slightly outside of it for the right intranet solution.

Over the course of just the next few years, thousands of businesses both small and large will be continuing to adopt intranets.

Know what to look for, and choosing the right software for your organization shouldn’t be difficult at all.

 

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Written by

Tim Eisenhauer is a co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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