How to Choose the Best Intranet Type for Your Company

A comprehensive guide to selecting the ideal intranet type to boost your company's productivity and employee engagement.

October 24, 2023
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Frustration. Wasted time. Miscommunication. Disconnected teams. Sounds familiar? These are problems you face when you've got the wrong intranet software. 

According to a Capterra survey, only 27% of small business decision-makers believe they made the right software purchase. Put bluntly, sometimes choosing the wrong software can be worse than having none at all. Especially if it’s something as vital as an intranet.

In this guide, we’ll break down the various other intranet site types, what you should look for in one, and how to pick the best intranet type for your company’s needs.

What Makes a Good Company Intranet

A good company intranet software centralizes internal communications, boosts collaboration and employee engagement, and provides easy access to necessary resources. A good modern intranet is also user-friendly, secure, and flexible. 

However, there are many types of corporate intranet. The one you choose will depend on your business needs and resources.

So, what are the types of intranet software?

There are five main types of company intranets to consider.

  • Internal Website: This is a private web page just for your company's eyes. It's a basic, static site that employees can access, but it doesn't have those advanced features you'd find in the latest intranet software.
  • Employee Intranet Portal: A step up from the internal website, this portal is on a company's own servers. It's where employees can find important info, employee directory, guidelines, and processes. It's more interactive and is among the best intranet platforms for storing key resources.
  • Social Intranet: This digital workplace combines work with a bit of socializing. It looks like an instant messaging or social media app. It helps staff from different departments connect, which is great for company culture and getting everyone engaged.
  • Front Door Intranet: It's the central entire company intranet hub that directs you to your online work tools. Every time an employee logs in, they're met with tools, applications, and resources they need. It looks the same on any device, which makes it easy for everyone.
  • External Website: This is a modern intranet hosted in the cloud. And because it's in the cloud, updates happen in real-time.

Why is Choosing the Right Intranet Software Type Important?

The right employee intranet software or site has many uses. It can improve a company’s productivity, internal communications,  and employee engagement. The advantages of an intranet can include the following:

  • Streamlined Communication: A good intranet site's best practices encourage clear communication. Everyone knows where to find updates, news, and essential information. This reduces the time spent hunting for data and speeds up decision-making.
  • Unified Collaboration: With the right intranet software, teams can collaborate in real time. Whether it's working on a shared document or brainstorming in a digital workplace, the barrier to collaboration is significantly reduced.
  • Resource Accessibility: Employees don't waste time searching for resources. Everything is organized and accessible, leading to quicker project completion and less downtime.
  • Boosted Morale: When an employee intranet software is intuitive and meets the needs of the staff, they feel valued and understood by the organization. This boosts morale and employee engagement, leading to increased dedication and less turnover, especially in remote workers.
  • Cultural Cohesiveness: A social intranet solution, for instance, can help build company culture across all levels and encourage employees to connect. When employees from different departments connect, there's a shared sense of identity, purpose, and peer-to-peer recognition.
  • Feedback Loop: Many of the best intranet software provide avenues for feedback for the entire workforce. When employees feel heard, they're more engaged and invested in the company's news and success.

Now you know why you should choose your best intranet software providers wisely, let’s show you how to make the actual selection.

How Do I Choose An Intranet Platform Type?

The journey to implementing the best intranet software for your company might start with a simple yet crucial question: How do you build a successful intranet?

Building an intranet platform that truly serves your organization requires choosing the right type of intranet site to begin with. It involves aligning the modern intranet solution with your company's vision, objectives, and operational needs.

Below is a step-by-step guide to help you make the best decision on your intranet software:

1.  Assess Your Company's Needs and Goals

57% of employees do not know the purpose of their company intranet.

Before you even begin browsing through the thousands of intranet solutions out there, it's vital to have a clear picture of what you want this software to achieve for your organization. 

Think of it like picking out a pair of shoes: you wouldn't just grab the first pair you see. Instead, you'd consider what you need them for – running, hiking, a swanky event, or just lounging around. Similarly, picking the best intranet software providers should be driven by what your company truly needs.

Here's how to pinpoint those needs effectively:

  • Purpose & vision: Start by asking the bigger questions. What's the core purpose behind wanting an intranet solution? Perhaps it's about bridging departmental silos, improving internal communication, enhancing transparency, or cultivating a unified company culture. For instance, if your company wants a "single source of truth" for all information, you'd go for a digital workplace that's great at organizing and finding documents easily.
  • Daily grind analysis: Check the day-to-day tasks of various departments. What challenges are they facing? Maybe the marketing team struggles with accessing updated branding materials, or HR spends hours answering repetitive queries. Identifying these routine hurdles can help spotlight features your internal communication software needs.
  • Feedback rounds: Initiate focused group discussions or surveys to gather insights from potential company intranet users. For example, if a common feedback theme is the need for easy-to-use, intuitive communication tools, you'd prioritize user-friendliness over an army of features in your intranet platform search.
  • Prioritize needs: Not all needs are created equal. List down everything you've gathered and rank them. Essential needs are those without which the company intranet would be pointless, while "nice-to-have" features can be considered if the budget allows.

2. Understand the Company Intranet Types

Before jumping in, getting familiar with the different types of digital workplaces out there is key. Each type serves a unique purpose, and understanding these can help you choose the digital workplace of your dreams.

  • Internal website: Best for companies that need a centralized, consistent place for information and company news. It's ideal if you want a go-to spot for static content without the bells and whistles.
  • Social company intranet: For businesses prioritizing team connectivity and engagement. If building relationships and sharing updates is important to you, then this is your match. A social company intranet is especially helpful now that remote work is here to stay, with 74% of CFOs planning to make at least 5% of employees off-site workers. 
  • Front door company intranet: Perfect for organizations looking for a private network for a unified starting point for daily tasks and resources. It streamlines access to everything your team needs, from task management to internal communication.
  • Employee intranet portal: This option is excellent for businesses that want greater control over the security, management, and maintenance of their intranet software.
  • External intranet website: Chosen by those who regularly collaborate with other businesses. If your teams need a shared space with external partners, this digital workplace is the way to go.

Once you understand these distinctions, you'll be better equipped to match your company’s requirements with the ideal company intranet solution. 

3. Consider Budget and Resources

Every company, big or small, has a budget. And let's be honest, while we all want the Rolls Royce of intranets, sometimes we have to start with something more modest and better suited to your needs.

You should consider:

  • Initial costs: What's the upfront cost of the company intranet software? Are there installation or setup fees?
  • Recurring costs: Monthly or annual licenses, maintenance fees, or updates – they all add up.
  • Manpower: Do you have the team to manage this? Will you need additional staff or training sessions? 

Strike a balance between your aspirations and resources. Ensure you're not stretching too thin but also investing adequately for robust employee intranet software.

4. Evaluate Scalability and Growth

Today, you might be a team of 20, but who's to say you won't be a bustling enterprise of 200 or even 2,000 in a few years? Your company intranet should be ready to grow with you. 

Go for a solution that won't just meet your needs today but will also be flexible enough to adapt as you expand. No one wants to outgrow their software in a short span and start the hunt all over again.

You should look at two important things:

  • Capacity: Ensure that the software can handle more users and data over time (not necessarily unlimited users but you want to have bandwidth).
  • Features: As your team expands, you might need advanced functionalities. Can your chosen platform adapt? 

The goal is longevity. Your company intranet should be a long-term ally, supporting you through various growth stages without the need for frequent overhauls.

5. Analyze Technical Requirements

Like we said earlier, not every modern intranet software is created equal, and the same goes for your company's technical capabilities. Understand what it takes to get your chosen digital workplace up and running.

You might have a team of IT wizards ready to handle the most complex of systems, or perhaps you're more on the 'plug-and-play' end of the spectrum. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the required hardware and software in place?
  • Will the company intranet work well with your existing systems?
  • Does the intranet vendor offer assistance during setup or any tech glitches down the road? 

Remember, it's not about having the fanciest tech stack, but ensuring that your current infrastructure can smoothly integrate with the company intranet system you're eyeing.

6. Assess Security and Compliance

In the first three months of 2023, researchers from WhoisXMLAPI found more than 800 cybersquatting domains targeting popular modern intranets service providers.

You wouldn't leave your front door open, so why compromise on intranet security? Your ideal staff intranet shouldn’t expose you to data breaches, scams, and malware.

Here's what to keep tabs on:

  • Data protection: Make sure that the intranet platform encrypts sensitive data and keeps it safe from prying eyes.
  • Regulations: Depending on your industry, there might be specific compliance standards to meet. HIPAA for healthcare, GDPR for European customers, and so on.
  • Audit trails: Having a system that logs who does what can be a lifesaver.
  • Anti-virus capabilities: Although your company should have robust anti-malware software installed, your chosen intranet should have firewalls and features that protect it (to an extent) against attack. 

Do not skimp on safety; it's worth every penny.

7. Consider Integration Capabilities

You've got all these cool tools and systems already. Your best company intranet software should be that friendly neighbor who gets along with everyone.

Check if the company intranet has open APIs or plugins to connect with your existing software. Ensure that data also moves effortlessly between systems without any hiccups.

The best intranet software is flexible. Today it's Tool A, tomorrow Tool B. It should be able to keep the workflow for new employees  and team members smooth and avoid tech stack bottlenecks.

8. Evaluate User-Friendliness and Adoption

A survey conducted in February 2022, found that employees waste at least 'two hours a day' searching for what they need at work, with nearly half of the employees claiming that searching to find what they need at work is more painful than going to the dentist​.

The fanciest intranet is useless if your entire organization doesn't or can't use it. 

Think about it: an intranet's core purpose is to enhance communication, collaboration, and workflow. But if your team spends half the time trying to figure it out, then it defeats its purpose. 

User adoption is a real deal-breaker when choosing intranets. If employees embrace it, your productivity scores. If they dodge it, well, you've just bought an expensive virtual paperweight.

Consider the following:

  • Intuitiveness: If people need a manual to log in, that's a red flag. The platform should be as intuitive as your favorite app.
  • Training: Does the vendor offer training sessions? A little hand-holding in the beginning can lead to smoother sailing later.

In the end, an intranet purchase is like hosting a party – you want everyone to come, enjoy, and keep coming back.

9. Seek Employee Input

Let's be honest: while top management might have a vision for the intranet, the employees will be its primary users. So, it's crucial to gather insights from them. Here's how to do it:

  • Surveys & feedback forms: Cast a wide net. Understand what features employees are keen on, and where current tools might be lacking.
  • Town hall meetings: Open the floor for discussion. This encourages active participation and can help you discover valuable internal information.
  • Pilot programs: Before a full-scale launch, test a trial version with a subset of users. Their direct feedback can prevent potential pitfalls and refine the final choice. 

Remember, an employee experience and intranet that employees like, will see higher adoption rates and better overall success.

10. Research Vendor Reputation and Support

Picking a vendor is a bit like choosing a partner for a long-term project. Their past behavior and current capabilities can hint at future reliability. So, before you tie the proverbial knot, check:

  • Reviews & testimonials: Check out online forums, app store reviews, and even social media to see what others are saying about that tool. Look for patterns in feedback and specifics relevant to your needs.
  • Response times: Check out their customer service. A test query can give insight into their responsiveness and problem-solving abilities.
  • Case studies: Real-world examples can speak volumes. Look for stories from companies similar to yours, focusing on challenges faced and results achieved. 

Overall, ensuring a strong partnership from the outset can mean fewer headaches down the road.

Find Your Perfect Company Intranet With Assembly

Every organization has its unique rhythm, and your corporate intranet should complement that. However, choosing company intranets is no cakewalk. In the end, it's best to go with a modern intranet solution that matches your company's quirks, internal communications, and requirements and encourages employee engagement, collaboration, and communication. 

With Assembly, you're not just getting another intranet software. You're investing in a dynamic modern intranet tailored for modern businesses, aimed squarely at boosting productivity, internal communications and employee morale.
For a clearer picture of what we're talking about, check out our YouTube video.

Assembly | The Intranet Your Employees Will Use

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