How Does an Intranet Help Improve an Organization?
There are three major aspects of business operation where an Intranet has been very useful—collaboration, communication, and productivity.
Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Effective Communication
An intranet makes collaboration between employees easy, no matter where they are located. They can easily share and exchange information electronically, whether they are in different departments, on different floors, in different buildings, different states, and even in different time zones.
However, even if the intranet contains all kinds of information and knowledge that the employees need in their jobs, it is important that the intranet itself has the means to facilitate information sharing and exchange. Integrating the intranet with functionalities related to social networking can significantly improve collaboration among employees.
Probably, the most important reason why the intranet was created in the first place, was to enhance communication in an organization. An intranet brings employees closer together and provides a platform that encourages discourse.
Employees can also create topics for a variety of information related to the organization or the industry to which it belongs. This topic can be a ‘Wiki,’ where information can be edited and modified to ensure that they are updated. On Status, as soon as an update is added to a topic, all participants receive a notification about the update immediately. This ensures that everyone has up-to-date information. On the other hand, these posted articles may come from a strict circle of pre-defined contributors so that updates may only be published by assigned employees or departments to make sure that the information is correct. In this case, encourage engagement from employees by letting them comment on the articles and start threads where employees can share insights, opinions, ideas, and additional information.
An intranet is also a great medium to provide company figures to the employees and let them know how the organization is fairing: metrics and statistics can be posted on the intranet in a way that it is more interesting, engaging, and interactive.
Status is different from classic Intranet systems in the following ways:
- It allows for the easiest flexible communication to a targeted group of people. It’s not necessary for those people to belong to a certain department, or any other organizational structure. It can be any set of people within an organization.
- It allows to users to securely communicate with people outside of an organization, such as external stakeholders and clients without providing them access to internal communications.
- It allows users to easily assign any set of multiple contributors to one feed.
- It allows a feed to be fully private. Even those who post to it can’t see what others write or can see—it’s flexible.
- It allows for recurrent updates by sending friendly reminders to contributors when it’s time to post an update.
The intranet simplified business processes which were tedious, time-consuming, and outdated. Instead of sifting through folders and boxes, staff only need to log in and the information they require is immediately at their fingertips.
Long email threads that overload the servers are also eliminated. With shared workspaces, employees or team members can quickly send messages and exchange information.
It also reduces long hours of meetings which, reportedly, take up 15 percent of the work hours of an average employee. An employee can do a lot of things in the time it takes for a meeting to adjourn. While the meeting is necessary, the amount of time spent in it could be reduced and put to better use if there was a collaboration tool available in the intranet. Team members only need to set a virtual meeting on a schedule that suits everyone, and they can chat away their concerns, updates, and follow-ups.
Meeting agendas can be discussed in advance, reducing the time for the meeting and making it more structured:
In the case of a face-to-face meeting, a topic with meeting summaries can be created:
Uses of a Modern Intranet
News, information, notices
Let the intranet serve as a virtual bulletin board where news and information about the company, the industry it belongs to, and any other related matters, are posted. This is an efficient way of ensuring that everyone knows what is happening in the company, as well as on issues that concern them. As soon as an update is published Status immediately delivers it via email and in-app to every person authorized to read the topic.
Statistics, research, reports—all information that will help an employee do his job well
Employees need these things in order to make better decisions, create well-crafted project proposals, make better forecasts, and stage successful campaigns. Ensure that this data is updated from time to time. Creating a system of notifying concerned employees if there are updates to data they recently searched for is very much relevant, especially if the data is critical to the project they are handling. It is also important that this data is secured, and confidential data is only accessible to authorized readers. The unique granular permissions of the Status application allows that to be configured that with a few clicks.
Intranets are supposed to make work processes easier and simpler, so it’s a must that they provide a way for employees to become more efficient.
The following features can also be integrated with an intranet to make it more dynamic.
Enabling the employees to interact with each other on the intranet encourages them to use it more. Getting to know each other better, gaining recognition from peers and sharing personal experiences makes the information posted on the intranet more engaging to employees and helps them to bond as a team.
Both private between the supervisor and employee, as well as team-wide public. Private updates allow for direct mentoring, feedback, and coaching from the supervisor. Public updates allow everyone to be on the same page.
Possibility for feedback from employees to the upper management
Publish goals and update priorities
Set guidelines and standardize the use of the intranet
Since the intranet is utilized by the whole company, and the information it contains is official, the company should exercise care and caution when it comes to its use. Wrong information posted could lead to disastrous results, and this does not, in any way, help the company. There should be written guidelines on how to post, retrieve, access, and download information from the Internet. Not all data should be accessible to all employees. As much as possible, limit the access of an employee only to that which is relevant to their department, or to his or her work. If they need any information which they cannot access, there should be a formal request from the employee stating what information is needed and why.
As for Status, it allows granular permissions by design – that’s why it’s so easy to manage it on a topic-level even for non-technical users. Managing users and permissions is as simple as clicking on a “Plus” or “Edit” button in the “Who can write” and “Who can read” fields for a particular topic.
Simplify the Intranet and make it easy to navigate
Not all employees are techies. Make sure to use an application with a simple design to make it easier for everybody to navigate their way around the website and find what they are looking for.