The ultimate intranet for companies and organizations

Irrespective of whether your organization operates in the business or public sector, or whether it’s small or large, it’s guaranteed to be more successful with an intranet. Just how much more is, however, very much dependent on the extent to which the intranet has been adapted to the organization’s specific prerequisites and needs. The needs of a small consulting firm, for example, are hugely different from those of a municipality. In this blog post, we’ll advise you on how to build the ultimate intranet for your organization.

Intranets for small and large companies, schools, municipalities, healthcare providers, shops, service enterprises, and other organizations have very different designs and functionalities. The digital tool needs of a small plumber company are, for instance, very different from those of a school’s. The plumber company probably doesn’t need an extranet where customers can log in and register data or download business-critical information. A school, on the other hand, must be able to offer parents access to their children’s schedules, attendance management, and other information, all of which is best facilitated through an extranet.

Despite the differences, however, there are many user needs and functional requirements that are common to all types of organizations. For example, virtually every organization wants to be able to efficiently distribute news and other internal information to all its employees. Most organizations also need to facilitate employee access to and the self-service of everything related to their employment. Collaboration spaces, shared calendars, and events, document management, and integrated desktop and communication applications are other examples of digital work tools that are applicable and beneficial to most organizations.

In order to build the optimal intranet for your organization, you must start by mapping its specific requirements through user surveys, information and communication analyses, etc. There are no shortcuts as each organization is unique. Learn how to build a successful intranet for companies and organizations, step-by-step, by reading the blog series Building a Successful Digital Workplace.

There are, however, user needs that are common for certain types of organizations. How these needs should be addressed is described below.

Intranets for large companies

It’s difficult, of course, to say exactly what it is that defines a company as being large or small. A dividing line can perhaps be when all employees can no longer be accommodated at the morning meeting. But at the same time a company that can be described as large in one industry, based on the number of employees, can in fact be defined as small in another.

However, what’s basically of concern in this context is the need to structure information and processes and to create more efficient solutions for internal communication and collaboration.

What large companies have in common is that they find it more difficult to hold their organization tightly unified, creating employee engagement and making internal knowledge and competence visible and shareable. They also have more complex needs regarding document and case management, larger information volumes and more collaborations, teams and projects compared to smaller companies. A big company also runs a higher risk of isolating information in silos.

To optimize the conditions for developing an intranet for a large company, you should, among other things:

  • Create well-defined personas for users. This is to facilitate the structuring and categorizing of the organization’s various user groups so as to target all content to the right employees.

  • Structure and tag all content and all news based on what is of mutual interest to the entire organization and what is only relevant for a certain unit or user category. With a sound personas structure and well-tagged content, its relevance to each employee is amplified, thus boosting their use of the intranet, engagement and sharing of information and knowledge. This makes it easier to reach out with news, information and activities that unite the organization and strengthen innovation and employees’ drive towards common goals.

  • Integrate or build the company's entire document management system on the intranet. By consolidating the management of all documents in a uniform and well-structured intranet solution, you’ll make it easier for users to find, revise and share documents and processes. And with the right architecture and functionality, the risk of duplicates and outdated information can be more or less eliminated. This will increase the reliability, security and quality of documents, processes and other information. Furthermore, it allows for easy access to all business-critical information via a single platform. Implementing smart search functionality, users can then efficiently find every item of information on a specific topic in both files and web texts. In fact, Omnia offers a powerful search engine with advanced search filters that make it “Google-easy” to find relevant information in documents, web pages, collaborations, projects, conversations and more.

  • Create well-structured, searchable and rich user profiles for all employees in order to facilitate improved internal resource utilization and the sharing of knowledge and skills. In-house competence and knowledge can be made more easily accessible and visible to the organization by implementing advanced intranet search filters.

  • Apply collaboration and project templates to ensure that collaborations follow the same process, from start to finish, and that the application environment does not become too diverse. Read more about this in the blog post Building a successful digital workplace. Step 4: Facilitating collaboration.

  • Assign publishing roles and automate content management. With a strict policy on reading, editing, and publishing rights, information anarchy and uncertainty about what one is allowed to do in the digital workplace are avoided. And by automating the distribution and updating of news articles, blog posts and other items of information, the flow is kept even and the workplace tidy.

Intranets for small businesses

For a smaller company, the need to keep everyone informed about what’s happening in the company via the intranet and other digital channels may not be as important as in a larger company. It may also not be as important for the innovative power and cohesion of a small company that employees use intranet communities and social media tools to discuss matters. That is to say, on the understanding that the company can have regular meetings involving all employees. It’s generally acknowledged that it’s when a company grows out of the conference room that conversations, news updates, ideas development, and meetings are moved into the digital workplace.

But the consolidation, structuring, and simplifying of access to all relevant information and documents are just as beneficial to a small company as they are to a large organization. When developing an intranet for a small business, content, and documents should therefore be categorized and tagged so as to make it easier for users to find information. And, just like large organizations, small companies have a lot to gain by using collaboration templates so that every project and collaboration follows a uniform structure and uses the same applications and file storage processes.

Intranets for municipalities

The needs of a municipality are in many ways similar to those of a large company. There are many professional roles in the organization and there are employees in many units and administrations. There’s an obvious need for the coordination, consolidation, and structuring of information, documents, collaborations, and competence, as well as for simplifying the findability and accessibility of information and other resources. In addition to productivity and quality gains, there’s huge potential for increased cohesion and engagement in a municipality with a well-structured, social and vibrant intranet. I.e. a platform offering easy and quick access to all business-critical information, processes, collaboration spaces, desktop tools, and other resources via a single interface.

However, what distinguishes municipalities and other public organizations is the fact that their operations are tax-financed, public, and highly regulated. There are consequently tremendous benefits to be gained from solutions creating order among governing documents, quality processes, and other business-critical information. In view of the breadth of operations and the distance between the various municipal units and departments, the intranet plays an extremely important role in bridging the gaps and strengthening the unity of the organization.

For inspiration and hands-on tips on how to build successful intranets for municipalities or other public organizations, read the customer cases below:

Intranets for stores

A typical feature of stores is that their employees often work irregularly and with different types of employment contracts. Some work full-time, others only at weekends. Consequently, the entire workforce is rarely gathered together and employees who only work weekends may never get to meet those who work weekdays. This means that stores usually have to find other methods of keeping the organization unified. They are also in need of efficient solutions that facilitate their employees’ access to and self-service of all the information relating to their own employment.

Furthermore, since employees are invariably out in the store most of their workdays, they have neither the time nor the opportunity to log on to the intranet via a computer in the workplace. So for them, a mobile-friendly interface is absolutely crucial to the success of the intranet.

To optimize the conditions for developing an intranet for a store, you should, among other things:

  • Create an easily accessible mobile interface via responsive design and/or a mobile app. With Omnia, you get a responsive intranet automatically and you can also add Omnia's mobile app to better control the mobile experience.

  • Create a process and structure for a regular news feed so that everyone is kept informed about everything happening in the business. If possible, also activate notifications in the mobile app.

  • Enable the sharing of information and conversations on the intranet so as to strengthen engagement and cohesion and to enable smooth work shift swaps between employees.

Read ICA grows stronger with Omnia and Axfood launches new intranet based on Office 365 and Omnia if you are curious to learn about how these retail companies have designed their group-wide intranets.