3 Steps to Buying an Intranet

3 Steps to Buying an Intranet image 3 steps2For a first-time buyer, choosing a new intranet software can be a daunting, time-consuming process. Each organization holds different values and is looking to achieve different goals, which means an intranet that works for one company, may not be the right fit for another.

The following three simple steps will help to identify the specific needs of your business, and ensure a successful intranet purchase:

  1. Set Your Goals, Choose Your Features
  2. Identify Show Stoppers
  3. Create a Short List & Try It Out!

Step 1: Set Your Goals, Choose Your Features

Most buyers start with a long laundry list of features that they consider essential as part of their purchase criteria. For example, they may be looking for a solution that offers a document repository, an employee directory and a forms application. While this may seem like a simple, straightforward approach, it won’t result in finding an intranet software that meets the needs specific to your business.

Rather than starting with the features you think are important, focus on the goals you are looking to achieve with your intranet and then prioritize those goals. The intranet you choose should contain features which help to achieve these goals.

Depending on your organization, the goals and the priority of those goals will vary. Your goals may include:

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  • Saving Time: Saving time is all about identifying and automating existing processes. If your organization has well-defined processes (banks, hospitals, government) look for an intranet which has online forms, approval workflows and a document repository system designed for a large number of documents.
  • Increasing Collaboration:Robust collaboration features are critical for project-focused organizations (consulting, creative, construction, software development). Look for an intranet with strong support for department or team level sites, activity feeds and an employee directory. In addition, if your workforce is often out of office, mobile support is essential.
  • Building Culture: If building culture is a key objective of your intranet, look for an intranet software that offers social tools such as blogs, employee walls and discussion boards. Building culture requires engaging employees and therefore an attractive theme and design is also critical, so choose a software that offers flexible themes and design.

Step 2: Identify Show Stoppers

Now that you have your feature list in-hand, it is time to start evaluating intranet vendors. However, rather than jumping right into evaluating vendors based on features, you’ll want to first identify your show stoppers. These are certain criteria, such as system and hardware requirements, which are non-negotiable. It is better to get these out of the way immediately in order to save you time down the road. Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself to determine your show stoppers:

  • Can our information live in the cloud, or does it have to be stored locally?
  • Do I need Active Directory integration for single sign-on?
  • What level of customization do I need?

These are just a few considerations you may want to take into account. Make sure to check with your IT Team to compile a full list of all non-negotiable system requirements before starting your intranet evaluation process.

Step 3: Create a Short List & Try it Out!

Once you’ve identified your show stoppers and removed the vendors who are incompatible with your internal environmental criteria it is time to begin evaluating vendors based on your feature list. Once you’ve narrowed down your solutions to a few favorites it is time to try them out! Most intranet vendors will offer a free demo and a free trial of their software. It is always a good idea to take a demo first, in order to establish a basic understanding of the intranet software prior to trying it out.

When you begin evaluating your trial, go back to your goals list and give those features a try which you’ve identified as most important in resolving your goals. Here are a few examples:

  • If saving time is your key objective, identify the most complex form and approval process in your organization and implement it on the intranet.
  • If collaboration is your key objective, create a team site and gather a few team members to test it out – is it easy to use? Can they navigate through the site, add content and engage with its features? Test out the mobile compatibility with your devices to ensure areas of the site are accessed easily through mobile.
  • If building culture is your key objective, attempt to create the best-looking home page possible using the intranet’s design tools. Present that design to the leaders in your organization, and see if the intranet is capable of creating the right feel. Test out the social tools – are they easy to use and engage with? Can they be turned on and off to match the level of social within your organization?

Some intranet vendors, including Intranet Connections, offer customers a trial plan which includes a weekly meeting with the Sales Manager to go over product functionality and to answer any questions you may have during your trial. Weekly trial plan meetings are also a great time to bring in your internal stakeholders and have their questions answered directly by the vendor.

I hope that this guide will make your selection process a little bit easier. If you are looking for an intranet solution and have determined that Intranet Connections may be a good fit for your organization request a demo or contact our Sales Team with any questions you may have.

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