Intranets have come a long way from basic and non-interactive designs. Dynamic and colorful interfaces and AI-based features are now standard. But despite getting a makeover of sorts, intranets are still around for the sole purpose of sharing information.
These exchanges of data and knowledge occur internally within organizations. Everything from policies and procedures to meeting recaps and recently discovered solutions for recurring problems gets published. HR departments and managers are even using intranets to increase employee engagement and get a pulse on workplace culture.
Yet companies need a solid content management system (CMS) to implement and maintain a successful intranet. Knowing what to look for in a CMS is essential to creating an information-sharing resource for your employees. With so many competing solutions, it’s challenging to narrow down which CMS capabilities are most critical. When selecting a CMS, here are six considerations you can’t afford to overlook.
A sign of a robust intranet CMS is enhanced security. Your company’s proprietary information, trade secrets, and client and employee data could become exposed within minutes. You don’t want hackers and unauthorized users to gain access to the system and wreak havoc.
Even if a hacker’s end game isn’t to steal your information, they might remove critical data or post unfavorable content. Someone could also find a backdoor to your network, leading to more significant problems and outages. Avoid these messy and difficult-to-remedy situations by using a CMS with features like encryption and IP address restrictions.
All the information in the world doesn’t do your employees any good if they can’t read and interact with it. Online articles and websites may look great on a laptop or desktop. But if publishers don’t optimize them for smartphones and tablets, they’ll alienate their audiences.
If you’ve ever been on your phone trying to read a website that wasn’t designed for mobile devices, then you’re aware of the problem. You probably gave up the attempt, abandoning the site altogether. It’s better to use a CMS that optimizes your design and text for the mobile workplace. Your employees will do the same thing to your intranet when working from mobile apps or devices.
This should go without saying, but an intranet should be accessible for staff members to access and bookmark. If access requires the installation of separate software, it will create more legwork for your IT department. Since most non-technical employees do not have admin-level privileges on their computers, the software could take months to deploy. While there are automated tools IT staff can use, they still have to run audits and complete some manual installations.
You can save your technical team time and effort with a CMS that ensures a seamless setup of your intranet. Look for something that’s web- or cloud-based. Beyond connecting to the organization’s network, employees should have to navigate to a URL. They can then create a bookmark or desktop shortcut for immediate access.
Intranets that get the most useful function like hubs or launching pads for the various information and tools employees need. They should be able to find nearly everything required to get their work started quickly. This includes colleagues’ calendars and schedules, email programs, collaboration apps, and interactive company directories. Without integration capabilities, intranets become just another interface staff members have to pull up.
Employees in the U.S. switch between 13 apps 30 times a day. Over a quarter of knowledge workers say that this causes them to miss action items and meetings. And 26% say constant toggling between multiple apps makes them less efficient. A CMS that integrates with other frequently used applications will reduce the number of screens employees switch between. That means their productivity won’t take a hit.
Intranets aren’t meant to be boring. The most effective ones facilitate a sense of community and connection. Intranets that encourage knowledge sharing and engagement have the same features as popular social media sites. Staff members can like, share, and rate content. They can also efficiently distribute it through other internal applications like email or instant messaging platforms.
Your next CMS should support these features and others, such as streamlined content creation, polls, and surveys. Discussion boards, peer recognition and acknowledgments, and project collaborations make your intranet more animated. Rather than reading like a textbook, an intranet with social engagement features will help foster your company’s culture. If you have remote teams, a community-oriented intranet could be instrumental in building that culture.
Easy-to-understand intranets mean fewer training sessions and higher adoption rates. Awkward interfaces and irrelevant information will only turn employees away. Some of your staff may get vocal and complain. Others will rebel silently, refusing to engage with a tool they perceive as useless.
A good CMS has customizable templates that allow you to build intuitive interfaces. However, excellent content management systems also support personalization.
Employees should be able to control and customize the information they see. If someone works in marketing, updates and activity feed for that department should appear first. Staff must also have the ability to filter out data that doesn’t apply to them. This helps reduce information overload and confusion.
Intranets can be a vital internal communications tool for companies of all kinds. These sites quickly distribute and organize information across departments and teams. And intranets help encourage knowledge sharing and camaraderie among employees, incredibly remote and hybrid staff.
But to build a robust intranet, you need a powerful CMS. A few must-haves are features that support tight security measures, app integrations, and collaborative experiences. Without these, your intranet may never gain enough traction to get off the ground.