What is an intranet – and does your organisation need one?

As the adage goes, there are no dumb questions. Sometimes you make it well into adulthood before you know how to poach an egg, or check the oil in your car. In the tech world, those kinds of questions are as valid as they are common. How do I insert a picture here? How does ‘the algorithm’ work? What is an intranet? 

While we can’t teach you how to poach an egg in this blog (but never say never), we can certainly fill you in on that last question. We’re in the business of building superior intranets that bring your employees together, and that starts by explaining exactly what an intranet is and whether your organisation needs one. 

Let’s start with the basics.

So, what is an intranet?

An intranet is an organisation’s internal communication platform. It’s here that you communicate, share news, information (e.g., policies, documents), post important updates, and collaborate. The major difference between intranet and internet lies in the word ‘private’. The internet is a public network that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere. An intranet cannot be accessed without an invitation or login information. Most organisations have an internet and intranet presence that serves different purposes; a customer-facing website versus an employee portal. 

When designed well, intranets offer employees streamlined access to the information and tools they need to do their jobs. Some of the most popular intranet platforms used worldwide include Microsoft SharePoint, Confluence, and even WordPress occasionally.  

Even though there are popular platforms, your intranet setup will be unique to your organisation. Intranets come with their own suite of features and add-ons, layout and design options, and navigation processes. It’s the combination of these best of breed technologies that increase overall productivity across your organisation. 

Three women sit around a timber table with their laptops. Co-working or working from cafes is a way of supporting remote working in 2023

How is an intranet used?

The goal of the intranet is to increase productivity, communication, and collaboration. For many employees, the intranet homepage is their first port of call when they start their workday. It’s here that they can view organisation updates, like company updates, hiring news or calendar events. Navigation should have pride of place and be easily accessible and simple to use. Quicklinks to essential pages, like payroll, policies, and documents, should be prioritised so employees can jump to what they need. 

Intranets can connect with communication platforms – e.g. Microsoft SharePoint and Teams connect to streamline collaboration. This marriage of intranet technologies allows employees to operate effectively throughout the day with everything they need in one location.

Does my organisation need an intranet?

Organisations can benefit from having an intranet in many ways. Firstly, it’s worth noting that intranets can be implemented into organisations of all sizes, no matter where your team is located in the world. If your team operates in the digital space then a customised intranet is guaranteed to make their life easier. This happens with 

  • improved communication, information sharing and collaboration. Employees can instantly speak to each other from across the office or across the globe, allowing for real-time updates, questions, and resolution.  
  • meticulous data storage and management. Filing becomes much simpler with an intranet, as does tracking down files and documents that your employees need, fast. 
  • boost organisation culture and a sense of community. Your intranet doesn’t have to cut out your company’s personality. Celebrate milestones, new hires and promotions, remind everyone to RSVP for the Christmas Party, and keep track of your in/out board – all in one place.

What should an intranet include?

Now that the mystery has been solved, you’re probably keen to get started. If you’re going to complete the build in-house, here are our top tips to ensure the process is smooth and everything your intranet should include has been considered. 

  • Get the team together. Depending on the size of your organisation, this could literally be the whole team, or just a representative of each department. Invite everyone to share what their current workflow practices are and how they engage with your current network. Using this information and their input, you’ll have the blueprints for a system that suits everyone. 
  • Clarify your objectives. What do you need this intranet to do? Maybe your goal is to create the most streamlined and productive place to store and share information and files. Perhaps you want to create an online hub where your employees can engage with the organisation in meaningful ways. Once you’ve confirmed what you’re trying to do, it’s time to start building. 
  • Who is in charge of what? Delegate tasks and responsibilities – not just for the build, but into the future. Moving content and data onto a new intranet platform is no simple task, but many hands make light work. As long as you’re tracking each team’s progress, and assigning content governance for future reviews, you’re set up for success. 
  • Consult an IT partner for tech advice. There’s a whole suite of apps, plugins, and add-ons at your fingertips when you’re designing your new intranet. Bringing in an external IT partner means you’ll get impartial, expert advice on which additions can streamline your intranet processes

Ready to build an intranet for your organisation?

If you’d prefer to outsource your intranet build, Propelle is your perfect match. We work closely with organisations to design SharePoint intranets that are user-friendly and effective. Tell us how you want to work and we’ll make it happen.