Building your Modern Workplace? Know the ESSENTIAL Capabilities of a Modern Intranet.

Yvonne Harris of Powell Software outlines the modern intranet essentials

By providing your people with easy access to information, tools, and resources, an intranet optimizes internal communication, boosts employee engagement, and — as a result — raises productivity levels. Let’s run down the essential modern intranet capabilities that make this magic happen.

User-Friendly Interface

If you want your people to use your intranet to its full capacity, start here. A user-friendly interface makes an intranet, more engaging, more useful, and more effective. It should be intuitive and easy to navigate, ensuring that employees can quickly find the tools and resources they need without wasting time on a steep learning curve. (Think of it this way: How much do you enjoy using apps that aren’t easy to navigate?)

That fast learning curve means that employees — new and current — can be more productive, faster and your intranet can start proving its value from day one.

Document Management

“Are you sure this the latest version of that spreadsheet?” “Do you know where I can find that PowerPoint?” “Could you send me that Word doc?” Just today, how much time do you think your people have lost just because they couldn’t directly access the documents they needed?

In the modern workplace, efficient workflows require document management that works for everyone up and down your roster. So it follows that modern intranet capabilities should offer robust document management features, including:

  • Version control to prevent the inevitable confusion that arises from multiple versions of the same document.
  • Search functionality to make it easy for your people to quickly locate the documents they’re after, with less wasted time.
  • Categorization options that allow you to “file” documents in ways that make sense and help the search functionality work even better.
  • Access permissions that govern who in your organization can and can’t access certain files and documents.

The vision undergirding these document management features: Making it effortless for employees to access files and collaborate on them. Speaking of which… 

Collaboration Tools

If we didn’t know it before COVID, we absolutely know it now: Collaboration is at the heart of modern work. Your intranet shouldn’t compromise on collaboration tools. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management integrations are your top 3 tools to enable seamless teamwork on-site or remote. In fact, I’d call them non-negotiable.

We all know the power of instant messaging and video conferencing to enable effective collaboration, regardless of employees’ physical location. If you’re a SharePoint workplace, you’re already set up for great things. An intranet built on SharePoint should seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Teams.

And collaboration can get even better when you integrate project management tools like Microsoft Lists and Planner. Just like that, your intranet provides a centralized platform for teams to plan, execute, and track their projects, boosting collaboration even more and turning up the visibility into each project.

Customization Tools

The best “out of the box” intranets deliver on their triple promises of easy implementation, essential features, and overall value. But they don’t presume to be all intranets to all companies. To ensure that your intranet aligns perfectly with your organization’s unique needs, it should offer customization and branding options.

This isn’t just about aesthetics; your intranet should produce, existing in service to your specific business processes. The ability to create custom pages, workflows, and templates that align with your organization’s unique requirements is essential. You might want custom forms for employee requests. You might want a homepage layout that’s not only distinctive, but also engaging and effortless to navigate. And you WILL want your intranet to be ready to meet unknown future needs.

Integration readiness

As the hub of your organization’s business processes, an adept intranet should seamlessly integrate with the external third-party applications that streamline its operations. A modern intranet is a unified platform that simplifies tasks, reduces time spent switching between different tools, and ultimately enhances the overall efficiency of your organization.

Mobile Accessibility

Here’s another non-negotiable for modern intranet capabilities — and the “why” shouldn’t be a mystery. Your intranet should be accessible AND fully functional from any device with an internet connection.

A responsive design is the key to delivering that full functionality. A responsive mobile design automatically adjusts your intranet’s layout to fit the screen size of a smartphone or tablet. As a result, your people experience the same UX wherever they access their intranet — in or out of the office.

Webinar: Beyond “MVP”: Secrets of a Lovable Intranet 

Social Engagement Features

The more your employees use your intranet, the more it demonstrates its value. Of course productivity is the raison d’etre for a modern intranet, but to get there, it engages users socially with such features as:

  • News feeds that keep employees informed about company updates and events.
  • Discussion forums that encourage open communication and knowledge sharing.
  • Employee profiles that help team members connect on a personal level.

These and other social engagement features foster a sense of community and connectivity among your people, boosting employee satisfaction and retention (especially important if your organization is hybrid and/or distributed).

Management and Analytics

I’ve said a lot here about “effective” intranets. But how do you judge effectiveness objectively? With two robust management features:

  • Administrative tools empower your intranet administrators to manage user access, permissions, and content effectively.
  • Analytics provide valuable insights into how your intranet is being used, helping you identify popular features and areas that may need improvement.

Your mission is to gather and analyze the data at regular intervals, then use your findings to inform decisions about the updates and enhancements that can keep your intranet aligned with your organization’s evolving needs.

Where do you go from here?

As I said at the beginning, a user-friendly interface, collaboration tools, social features, management and analytics, and all the rest ARE ESSENTIAL if you want your intranet to be a MODERN INTRANET. If your organization adopts a solution that offers these must-have features and components (Powell Intranet is one that fits the bill perfectly), you’re on your way to higher employee engagement and productivity.

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