47 Key Questions before investing in an intranet
You have decided you need an intranet to help meet your organisation’s goals – you’ve clarified the purpose and you are now looking for help to make it a reality.
If you’re looking at a intranet that works with Microsoft 365, this is for you.
Finding the right SharePoint Intranet
For many organisations, this means “going-to-market” to see what is available. In the last Clearbox report over 55 solutions exist just for SharePoint and Microsoft 365 – and those are the ones which choose to be reviewed. The number beyond that and outside of the Microsoft 365 technology stack is much larger.
So, the market is competitive – how do you draw your shortlist?
- Use a report, such as Clearbox, to identify possible matches – they give awards for the top solutions
- Speak to your network – what are they using – what are the pro’s and con’s?
- SharePoint out of the box – consider if simply working with a Microsoft Partner who can configure SharePoint would meet your needs without investing in an add-on solution
- Technology is only part of the solution – consider the experience and focus of the organisation and their people who will implement and support your solution
Understand your intranet vendor
The company which implements the solution may be different from the one which has built the solution – it is important to understand the background of your underlying vendor. A packaged solution without vendor support will quickly become unstuck.
- How well established is the vendor?
- Is their Intranet solution their primary focus?
- Are they financially stable?
- What case studies do they have based on organisations like yours?
- Can you see their solution roadmap?
Which platform meets your needs?
If you have a cloud first strategy can you quickly discount an on-premises solutions. Also consider if you are looking to reduce the number of services you have to manage – then look at solutions that extend your existing platforms rather than introducing new ones. Choose the appropriate question for you.
- Is your solution cloud-based?
- Or: Can I implement your solution in our physical environment?
- Does it sit within or alongside the Microsoft Platform? (If it is alongside that may mean that some of your data will be outside the security features of the Microsoft platform).
We see many organisations create long wish lists for features however, consider what are the key features that you need rather than an extensive wish list.
- What sets your solution apart from other solutions?
- Can we easily change/update the branding ourselves?
- What features do you offer to help with content publishing (think FAQ’s for example)?
- What level of end-user customisation do you offer?
Intranet content creation
- How do you keep the intranet on brand?
- Do you support templates to help with consistency?
- How easily can “non-technical” staff create and manage content?
- Do you support audience targeting of information?
How do you know what is working and what isn’t in your intranet, do they provide best practice on intranets that work? What does the long-term relationship look like with your supplier?
- How do you support us following implementation?
- To what extent do you offer usage analytics?
- How do you help us keep our intranet fresh?
Intranet technology approach
Ensure that the solution meets both your data security requirements and aligns with the underlying platform (Microsoft in our case) strategic direction.
- If using SharePoint – is the solution based on the modern framework?
- Is the solution reliant on the vendor’s SaaS service?
- How are updates to the solution managed?
- Which level of accessibility standard do you meet?
- What is your mobile experience, do you offer an app?
- Is the intranet going to be in a place where employees already go (say SharePoint or Microsoft Teams)
Introducing additional username and passwords will create a barrier to entry as well as additional overhead for IT. For many organisations, tight integration into Microsoft’s Active Directory should be a must.
- Does the solution support single-sign-on with our Activity Directory?
- Does the solution support MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)?
- Does the solution send information back to the vendor?
- Does the solution store our data in your environment?
An intranet should bring information together to provide employees with a single all-up view of what is happening within the organisation – that means pulling information together from a variety of sources. Policies and Procedures from SharePoint, social information from Twitter and data from line-of-business systems.
- To what extent do you integrate with our productivity platforms? (Typically, Microsoft 365 is the big one)
- Can we extract and publish organisational KPI’s?
- Can we publish from RSS feeds?
- What platforms do you integrate with public social channels such as Twitter / LinkedIn / Instagram / Facebook / YouTube?
In our experience organisations typically underestimate the effort and duration required for implementation. Draw on the experience of the implementor to understand what time and people investment you will be expected to make.
- How long does implementation typically take?
- Can you share a typical Implementation plan?
- What will you need from us to support implementation – people/time?
Cost of implementing a intranet
When looking at commercial options, some vendors may offer different pricing models depending on; how long you commit for, if you are a charity, which features are required.
- What is the typical implementation cost for an organisation like ours?
- Can you offer a fixed price model?
Cost of supporting an intranet
- What is the investment of support offering?
- Are there a time or other limitations within the contract?
The solution costs are likely to play a key part in your budgeting, try to understand the full lifecycle costs over your typically investment period – say 3-5 years.
- Is there a “one-off licence cost for the solution”?
- Is there an on-going subscription cost?
- What features are included / cost extra?
- What is the contract term?
- How does this change if we have additional staff, lose staff, or have temporary staff?
- Do I need any underlying licences (e.g. Microsoft 365)?
- Do I need to budget for any ancillary services (e.g. Azure)?
We've developed intranets for over 15 years
whatever your challenge - we'd like to hear it.