Sam Lipscombe 15 September 2015 7 min read

What is an intranet?

What is an intranet is a common question for many professionals who have been tasked with reviewing or refreshing their intranet with little or no previous experience. Intranets are a business essential. An intranet is a private network, only accessible by an organisations employees. Intranets began in 1994 and have since evolved into a core business communication and collaboration tool.

What do they do?

Intranets enable every employee to access non-public core information and systems in a secure way. Increasingly intranets are being enhanced to do more than just communicate and access information, they are being used to improve business processes and enable employees to access information from multiple devices and from any location.

Why do you need one?

Intranets can help organisations improve employee engagement, improve business efficiency, improved decision making and promote collaborative working. For further information on benefits read our blog on intranet benefits.

As well as the soft benefits, organisations can also see some hard benefits such as reductions in paper and printing costs, calculated time and efficiency savings.

What types of intranet are there?

Intranet platforms come in all shapes and sizes. The simplest way to think about the types of intranet available are to think about the intranet triangle. Traditionally, there are Boxed products, Enterprise social networks and SharePoint & tool kit platforms.What is an intranet?

Boxed intranet products are usually the cheapest options for delivering an intranet. They are very quick to get up and running and often provide good communication features (social collaboration for example). The downside is they deliver very restrictive functionality which is limited by the development schedule of the provider. To be effective most intranets need to adapt to your business processes and to your objectives. This is hard with a boxed product which may need to be replaced within a few years.

An intranet toolkit is on the other end of the flexibility scale from the boxed products (think Microsoft SharePoint). This provides the nuts, bolts and spanners of the intranet, letting you get on with the job of assembling it yourself. Intranet toolkits can be free or low cost from the outset but the cost quickly racks up as simple functionality needs to be developed and product licences are required.

The 3rd option is to build your own (enterprise social network). This used to be a viable choice about 10 years ago, one that we hardly ever experience these days. Most organisations that opt for this route now, either have very basic requirements or choose to use a product like SharePoint to deliver the basics and spend money on developers to build on this.

We like to think that our intranet platform is a hybrid of these solutions, providing a fourth option for you to consider. Our solution will deliver the same readymade applications as a boxed product but will also include the flexibility of the intranet toolkit. The advantage here is in both its ability to deliver a solution that streamlines your business processes today while adapting to your requirements as the business objectives change – all without requiring advanced technical skills. Longer term this approach delivers greater value for money.

To find out more about our SORCE intranet platform, why not download our latest product brochure.

Which one is right for me?

Different organisations will have different intranet requirements and resources available to them. Key things to consider are budget, in-house expertise and ongoing development costs. Some organisations may need a tailored solution that grows with their changing business needs and others can make a boxed product work for them. It’s important to remember that when shopping for intranet options think about continual development. The intranet you launch with, may look very different in 5 years- time as your business changes, so should your intranet.

The best way to see which one is right for you is to go shopping and request demo’s and ask advice.

How much will a new intranet platform cost?

Each intranet is unique, in size, scope and even functionality. Pricing will be different for every project. When looking at pricing, don’t forget to not only look at set up costs but also ongoing.

How SORCE can help

Here at SORCE we’ve experienced hundreds of intranets of all shapes and sizes and are skilled at helping uncover opportunities to improve engagement and business processes.

As intranet software and consultancy providers our software powers the intranet and extranet for hundreds of organisations. Our clients cover a wide range of sectors from finance to manufacturing, not for profit organisations (such as charities and housing associations) as well as local authorities and other public sector agencies.

If you still have lots of questions about your intranet, you might benefit from a chat with our Intranet expert Martyn Green. He runs regular free 30 minute consultation slots where he will answer any intranet questions you may have. Our next session that still has some availability is running on the 1st October. Register to book your slot.