Paula Darch 11 July 2022 11 min read

How do you choose an intranet for your business?

You’ve decided that your organisation needs an intranet. Perhaps it’s a directive from the leadership team and you’ve been tasked with sourcing the right platform, or maybe you’ve been pushing for an intranet for some time, and finally your wish has been granted. So, how do you choose which is the best intranet for your business? A quick search of ‘ intranet’ provides over 4.5 million search results, and so narrowing down the options, and quickly, is crucial. To help you on the road to choosing the right intranet for your organisation, consider the following ten key elements.

1. Be clear on your requirements

It’s important to get back to basics and clearly define what your organisation, and even more importantly - your employees - are missing without an intranet in place. And if you’re currently using an intranet which isn’t working well, what does a great intranet ‘look like’? It might sound obvious, but different people have different ideas about what an intranet can and can’t do and how it might be used.

Focus on how the intranet can enhance the employee experience and firm-up your intranet requirements in partnership with an intranet project team. Comprising employees from across the business, it should be a small but enthusiastic team of 5 - 10 people. Any bigger and coordination of meetings and decision-making may become challenging. At a minimum, the team should include a project manager and representatives from communications, human resources (HR) and IT.

2. Think agile and flexible

When determining your intranet requirements, flexibility should be a top consideration so that it can be adapted to meet the business’s evolving needs. So, question suppliers on how easy it is to tailor their intranet to suit. Can it be configured and personalised without having to be developed from scratch?

Unless you’re up for a challenge, it’s highly unlikely you’ll want to go through the time, effort and hassle of developing a bespoke intranet. From coding and testing through to implementation and training, everything will have to be custom-built. Plus the cost is bound to be high. The best choice, especially when time and budget are tight, is to find a supplier with a robust and flexible intranet platform that provides an excellent framework for making it ‘your own’. And importantly, it must be easy for non-IT staff to use. If adding new pages requires support from IT, then you’ll never be able to move quickly enough to support your business’s needs.

3. Is it mobile friendly?

A mobile friendly intranet must be a prerequisite, as this allows staff to access the intranet from all types of mobile devices, regardless of their location. And viewing content must be made easy through fast and simple authentication, ensuring there aren’t any barriers to internal adoption. Staff must also be able to create and share content ‘on the go’ to bring the use of the intranet into everyday business life.

When technology, such as intranets, become well-integrated with business culture, this has a number of positive outcomes, including a five-fold increase in employee engagement and a 47 per cent lower likelihood of an employee leaving (O.C. Tanner’s 2022 Global Culture Report). Ensuring an intranet is mobile accessible is fundamental to integrating it into everyday working life, thereby delivering a more positive employee experience.

4. Document management functionality

Most people will associate an intranet with the storage and circulation of information and documents, but not all intranet document management solutions are created equal. At a minimum, your chosen intranet platform should allow the safe storage, sharing and editing of documents. A more advanced feature to consider is audit control over documents in which a robust version history ensures document revisions are always recorded and tracked, even allowing the return to previous versions if needed. A mandatory read feature is also useful for when new policies and procedures are released by HR, alerting staff to the importance of the document. And crucially, full access control means that the organisation can control who has access to which documents, ensuring that sensitive documents can only be accessed by specified individuals.

5. Workflow for streamlining processes

In addition to having secure document management, there should be workflow functionality to allow documents, forms and emails to be electronically shared around the business, thereby streamlining everyday processes. From automating the approval of purchase orders through to circulating health questionnaires, it should be made quick and easy to create new workflows as and when required.

6. Integrated social media - Empowering and engaging employees

Social media used to be viewed as a means to connect with friends outside of the workplace, however social media tools, such as blogs, vlogs, Twitter and Facebook, are now recognised as having an important role to play on intranet platforms, helping to connect people, give them a voice and enable idea sharing. In fact, research highlights that “through social media, leaders can facilitate two-way communication while employees engage in a bottom-up exchange of ideas, and interact with colleagues through blogs and discussion forums. By allowing employees to voice their concerns and communicate with employers, social media applications can therefore contribute to the improvement of employee engagement.” And so it’s important to assess the intranet platform’s range of social features and their ease-of-use.

7. Do you want your intranet to support recognition?

Creating a culture of appreciation is often an important consideration for HR teams, and integrated recognition functionality can support this. Giving employees the ability to quickly and easily nominate colleague for great work, via a recognition feature on the intranet, can bring people together and improve employee engagement.

8. What are its integration capabilities? Providing a central hub for everything

A key consideration is how well the intranet integrates with your other systems, to create a central knowledge hub. From HR and finance systems through to Microsoft 365, they must be seamlessly connected with the intranet to ensure all information and documents are instantly accessible, allowing a single source of the truth.

9. Consider security

You need to trust your chosen intranet supplier with your company’s most sensitive documents, and so they must be able to prove that their platform is highly secure on all fronts. Do they have the ability to encrypt sensitive data, for example? And can groups of staff be assigned permissions to allow or prevent access to certain content? It’s also important to find out where the platform will be hosted (assuming it’s cloud-based) and the hosting facility’s security protocols. If you’re a UK-based company, you may feel reassured in knowing that your intranet is hosted in the same country.

10. Ask about support and training

Finally, don’t forget that the best intranets have dedicated and supportive teams behind them. So assess the level of support and training you can expect from the intranet supplier, and don’t be afraid to ask for customer testimonials. The most reputable and professional intranet providers will be able to easily provide case studies and customer references.

A final word

Choosing an intranet when there’s so much choice, can easily lead to inaction through indecision. No-one wants to get it wrong, which is why it’s so important to be clear about what you want your intranet to do, and the type of functionality you require from it. By being methodical in your approach, having the right people supporting you, and ensuring you carefully consider all the key components of an intranet, this will give you the greatest chance of success.


Paula Darch

Paula is our marketing whizz and is passionate about intranet engagement and getting the most out of your intranet software.