Blog

The True Purpose of an Intranet

Uncover the genuine purpose of an intranet. In this article, we explore how your intranet is your centralised hub for communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Helping you drive productivity and fostering employee engagement.

In brief:

  • An intranet serves as a centralized hub for internal communication, collaboration, and
    knowledge sharing.
  • It supports efficiency by streamlining processes and making information quick to find.
  • Through communications and digital communities, it fosters employee engagement.

Introduction

There are any number of reasons why you might need an intranet. It might be that your current intranet isn’t working. Or maybe you’re considering a first-time investment. In defining the purpose of an intranet, you can gain clarity on your project expectations; both in relation to your internal audience and any intranet solution supplier being considered.

In our blog on the 47 questions to ask before investing in an intranet, we looked specifically at the intranet discovery questions that you should be asking first.

As an experienced intranet provider, we know that one size doesn’t fit all. It is essential to understand the needs of your organisation so that you can select the most effective intranet solution.

Specialising in the delivery of digital workspace solutions, we can help you make sense of all the options when it comes to your intranet project. If you would like advice then please contact us.

It is vital to have an understanding of your organisational needs so that you can choose the right solution. With that said, let’s explore the key themes and the journey to setting up the best intranet for your business.

What is an intranet?

At a high level, an intranet is a private website accessible to the organisation’s employees. Some of our clients also allow for limited access to external contractors.

An intranet should function as an informational business hub, enabling the sharing of news, documents, and other business information. As a centralised repository, your intranet should simplify communication between departments.

Shaping the purpose of the intranet

Besides the functionality, it is essential to understand the purpose of an intranet. The purpose will vary, depending on the organisation’s size, culture and management goals. An intranet will be used to improve employee engagement and productivity.

What does that mean?

  1. 1. Intranets for larger organisations (500 plus employees) are often more focused on engagement – typically being used for the sharing of news and open communication between staff and management.
  2. 2. Intranets for mid-sized organisations (50 – 500 employees) normally have a broader requirement – with a balanced focus on improving communication and productivity. Often the phrase “intranet portal” is used, as it acts as a portal to your work as well as providing insight into your business.
  3. 3. Intranets for smaller organisations (less than 50 employees) are often less about engagement. Those working for companies of this size typically have better-established relationships and a shared focus on productivity.

Having covered these points, you might be wondering who will assume responsibility for shaping your intranet’s purpose. Let’s begin with your intranet sponsor.

The role and responsibility of your intranet sponsor

Your intranet needs a sponsor who will take ownership of the overall project. They will be the main driver, having identified the business case for the required intranet.

Typically, the intranet sponsor will be a senior staff member. They are often on the leadership team and seen as a visionary within the business. The sponsor will play a key role in shaping the success of your intranet by supporting and encouraging positive change in behaviours.

The intranet sponsor will be able to articulate the “why” behind the adoption of the intranet. Considering the organisation’s objectives, they will take the lead in securing the budget.

It’s common for the Project Manager to turn the vision into reality.  They will oversee the intranet implementation, transferring ownership when the project is complete.

First-time intranet sponsors are common. We provide such sponsors with guidance and advice on how to maximise the chances of success, helping to set reasonable expectations bespoke to the organisation.

Intranet purpose meets functionality

Two key purposes drive the functionality of your intranet.

Engagement

Purpose

To build community and culture through employee engagement.

Functionality

Forums - functioning as open communication channels for staff and leadership, they help in the connection of departments.

News publishing – improving the leadership of employee communications, they allow for the sharing of up-to-date departmental news

Special interests – supporting clubs, sports teams and community interest groups in connection with charitable partnerships.

Productivity

Purpose

To help people work smarter and more productively.

Functionality

  • Department and team workspaces.
  • Department shop windows for contacts and forms.
  • Integrated employee directory.
  • Knowledge hub.
  • Policy and procedure management.
  • Targeted resources based on a user profile.

Employee engagement with purpose

When asked for feedback employees generally highlight internal “communications” as needing improvement.

To give your organisation the best chance of achieving engagement goals, consider the following:

Cost of intranet implementation

The costs of intranet implementation often play a key role in deciding which solution to invest in.

Some intranet vendors offer different pricing models depending on the duration of your commitment, whether you hold charitable status and what intranet features you require.

It’s worth asking your intranet vendor the following to ensure you are getting the best value for money:

  1. 36. What is the typical implementation cost for an organisation like ours?
  2. 37. Can you offer a fixed price proposal, with set milestones?

Communication

  • The most appropriate frequency and structure in the targeting of news for your audiences.
  • The need to ensure that published news is accurate, up-to-date and purposeful.
  • The best means of helping your audience to understand what is going on, both at a company level, and also at a wider departmental/regional/national level.
  • The capacity for smarter intranets, such as SharePoint, to highlight news based on a user’s characteristics (location etc.)
  • The need for agreement on the best tone of voice for your communications.

Company Values

  • Take your values further than being just simple statements on your wall (yes this is useful too).
  • Make it real, by sharing stories of values being met.
  • Consider ways to help employees nominate colleagues who demonstrate these values.
  • Publish and celebrate their stories and offer small gifts to drive the right behaviours.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)

  • Corporate Social Responsibility is increasingly important for employees who want to know both the role of the business and how they can be involved.
  • Use your intranet to create communication sites, sharing the good work you’re doing.
  • Take it further by allowing employees to voluntarily share their time, ideas and feedback.

Creating purpose to improve productivity

Productivity won’t automatically be improved after setting up a new intranet platform. There should also be a reflection on the best ways of working.

Let’s consider three scenarios:

Knowledge

Experience tells us that the creation of a SharePoint knowledge base won’t automatically lead to a culture of knowledge sharing. Think about the best ways of encouraging:

  • Subject matter experts to share key information. 
  • Content curators to drive consistency and share new knowledge.
  • Knowledge owners to take responsibility and keep content current.

Collaboration

Setting up a digital workspace is simple. However, any site lacking good governance will sprawl with complexity. The true value will be diminished.

 

So, consider these questions before creating a new workspace:

 

  • “What is the purpose of this workspace”
  • “Who needs to be included”
  • “How long do we need it for”

Policy Management

One of the biggest intranet benefits is the capacity for the storage and sharing of company policies. This is particularly valuable for HR, as their policies impact everyone.

Rather than handcrafting individual responses, you can drive the desired behaviour by pointing to the intranet as a standard source of information. Confidence can also be improved if departments such as HR are to manage and publish on the intranet, ensuring the accessibility of policies.

Summary

If there’s no one championing the intranet from the top then it will be bound to fall flat, with the cycle of failure repeating.

It’s vital to ensure the balance of productivity and employee engagement. This will be both a technical and change management project, ensuring successful company-wide intranet adoption. Leadership support will be essential.

Next Steps

  1. 1. Firstly, decide on your high-level goals reflecting the balance of productivity and engagement. This will help define who should be in your project steering group.
  2. 2. Draft your intranet purpose statement – here’s a sample for a mid-sized organisation:
    "The goal of our intranet is helping our employees by giving them easy access to trusted information, collaboration spaces for team projects and to live and celebrate our values by enabling our to share their stories”. Some organisations will go further and create an intranet manifesto.
  3. 3. If you’re lacking a sponsor, then use this information for the recruitment of a suitable champion for intranet adoption.
  4. 4. At this point, the tendency may be for your organisation to issue a feature list request for proposal (RFP) to intranet providers. Our advice would be to take your time - arrange an informal conversation with an industry expert (link to our contact page) and ensure that you’re going in the right direction.
  5. 5. Now read 47 Intranet Discovery Questions to ask before Investing in an Intranet

Frequently asked questions

Q: What are the two most important functions of the intranet?

Employee engagement is one of the most important intranet functions. This can be achieved through the sharing of curated news about your organisation, incorporating the views of leadership and general staff. There should also be forums, allowing for the discussion of common interests with relevant feedback.

The intranet should also function as a trusted version of the truth, through the sharing of up-to-date policies, procedures and handbooks.

Q: What are the three uses of an intranet?
An intranet should enhance internal communications through the sharing of company and team news. It should also be a trusted knowledge source, supporting collaboration through project and team workspaces. Staff engagement should be increased, with the intranet functioning as a platform for conversations.
Q: What is the advantage of an intranet?
There should be better communication between leadership, teams and employees when you have a trusted source of information, enabling the sharing of questions and feedback. Productivity should also be increased, as the intranet enables the improved sharing of policies and organisational knowledge.
Q: Who should own an intranet?
From a functional perspective, internal communications staff typically own the intranets of larger companies. In smaller organisations, it might be the responsibility of HR, the Head of People, or even the CEO. IT should assume ownership and management of the underlying system platform (e.g., Microsoft 365).

Author

Rupert Squires

Client Director

2 mins read

View our other blog posts

Click through to see our other blog posts.

Copilot Readiness Part 5: Microsoft 365 Copilot – Licensing

Copilot Readiness Part 5: Microsoft 365 Copilot – Licensing

Microsoft 365 Copilot is an additional purchase as it is not included in any of Microsoft’s licence suites, including the “Hero SKU” Microsoft 365 E5. So, to take advantage of the new AI capabilities offered by Microsoft, you will need to budget for additional investment.

Copilot Readiness Part 4: Microsoft 365 Copilot – Technical Prerequisites

Copilot Readiness Part 4: Microsoft 365 Copilot – Technical Prerequisites

In this article we explore which managing Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial data in SharePoint and Teams—a part of our Microsoft 365 Copilot series. Based on Microsoft best practices, our guidance bridges the gap from ‘what’ to ‘how’, providing practical insights based on experience.

Copilot Readiness Part 3: SharePoint Governance

Copilot Readiness Part 3: SharePoint Governance

Based on our experience, the approach to security “Just Enough Access” and
Site/Team Management have always been best practice when managing a
SharePoint / Teams environment.

Ask how we can help you:

• First steps in helping your business do this?
• Taking a step back and building your strategy?
• Stuck in the mud and needs help getting out?

Whatever the question, you can expect a response within a business day.

Start your journey to stress-free document management right now