Why is everyone choosing an intranet in a box?

Digital Workplace with the lot

On average, it took 17 months to create the winning intranets of last year’s Nielsen Norman Intranet Design Annual report. In that timespan:
• A Humpback whale could migrate 19,622km
• An average runner could complete 2,852 marathons
• 32 generations of butterfly lived and died
• 22 Ferraris were manufactured
• There was time for 24.3 Tours de France

In times past, the humble intranet was simply required to host a few company updates and a staff directory. Once the concept of Digital Transformation began to take hold within the general consciousness, these simple intranets gave way to the far more comprehensive digital workplace. Collaboration tools, process automation, project management and media gallery features were now part of the requirements.

It took a while for technology to catch up with the broadened intranet scope required and for several years, each of these new and improved digital workplaces had to be created from scratch. Not any more. The past few years has seen a proliferation of ready to go Intranet solutions. These "Intranets in a Box" offer the comprehensive functionality required on a modern digital workplace, delivered in a far shorter period. Intranet businesses realised that clients were asking for the same functionality, with only small tweaks to branding, user experience and system connectivity. The Intranet in a box (IIAB) as it is known is a pre-built solution with configurable modules that enables businesses to launch a fully loaded digital workplace in weeks rather than months.

“Why spend money to custom build the same intranet features that everyone already has?”
Step Two: Consider an out-of-the-box intranet solution

Why else choose an Intranet in a Box?
• No need to retain in-house expertise
• Confidence in the product’s ability to be easily modified to reflect changing business structure and priorities
• SaaS model agreements with known support costs assist with budgeting
• Ongoing development and updates keep the intranet fresh and dynamic without requiring further project resources

This is good news for intranet project teams, but with the huge range of options available, introduces a new set of challenges around how to choose the right product.

Consider these criteria when assessing intranet vendors:
1. Responsiveness – In these days of telecommuting and family-friendly work policies, it is pretty much a given that major business applications will work on mobile and tablets. This is a hygiene factor and should be top of your list.
2. Design flexibility – many IIAB offerings offer different templates from which to choose, but little customisation to reflect your branding. This can be a contentious issue with many different opinions even within the project team. Before you start vendor selection, it’s a good idea to have a general consensus of the style of intranet you require and the level of branding to ensure that your shortlisted solutions comply.
3. Targeted communications – Yes, it’s important to let the Melbourne office know that the lifts will be out of commission on Friday, but does the rest of the organisation need to hear about it? Ideally such announcements should be able to be targeted on a range of criteria eg department, location and role.
4. Personalisation – While it’s risky to allow people to make any significant changes to layout, colours or design, giving people the opportunity to tailor their Digital Workplace to quickly access the links, systems, people and documents they access most makes sense.
5. Self-managed – Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and need someone to talk to, calling your vendor to change “Staff Directory” to “People” in the main menu and waiting while they schedule and deploy the change is inefficient and unnecessary. Particularly with SharePoint intranets, you should be able to make most content changes yourself once you have launched.

No matter which industry you are in or how large or small your budget, an Intranet in a Box can be a great solution to deliver a quality Digital Workplace quickly and effectively. Keep these points in mind for a successful launch and painless maintenance. If you are looking for more information about what makes a successful intranet, check out our new report, the 9 Pillars of Digital Workplace Success.