The best intranet platforms have the power to transform your organization, but finding the right solution is complex. This article outlines which features the best intranet platforms should have in 2023.
Choosing and launching the best intranet for your organization requires a substantial investment of time, money, and effort. To ensure that your choice is the right one, you need to gather information when choosing your vendor and creating a vision for your new platform.
There are many intranet software vendors and none of them will tell you they can’t meet your needs. However, each provider will naturally have particular strengths and areas of expertise based on their experience. As the person leading the intranet project, it’s your responsibility to find out which one is the best fit for your organization.
- Some are more suited to SMBs, others to enterprise level.
- Some products rely on SharePoint, others are independent packaged solutions.
- Some products have basic functionalities, others provide more advanced features.
- Some vendors are relatively new to the market, others have proven track records.
- Some are able to reach deskless workers more easily than others.
- Some have strong experience with healthcare or financial services organizations, for example.
The problem for most buyers is that unless you already know the market and the products, seeing beyond marketing hype and flashy sales demos can be tough.
Independent advice on the best intranet platforms
Three things that help some buyers are:
- Software comparison sites (e.g., G2 and Capterra).
- User review sites (e.g., SoftwareReviews).
- Global consultancies (e.g., Forrester and Gartner).
All of these can be important places to check but you still may not have a full picture. Software comparisons may present an unfathomably long list of features, user reviews can be incomplete and biased, while reports from global advisors are often so expensive that they exclude all but the biggest organizations.
To help you as you research the best intranet platforms in 2023 then, we’ve curated a list of four categories that all of your potential intranet platforms should have. If you’re researching which solution is right for you, make sure they can cover these priority areas.
1. Content production and management features
Organizations look for a modern intranet because they want to create (and enable their employees to create) engaging content and internal communications. For this, they need advanced content creation tools that support the easy generation of appealing pages.
Additionally, for intranet content to stay fresh and relevant, content governance capabilities need to monitor and alert admins to expiring or duplicate material. These features stop your intranet from turning into the dreaded “dumping ground” of information.
With pointed questions, you can discover how well equipped an intranet is to provide these tools for you.
- How does the system make it easy for communicators to produce engaging internal content
- Does your platform feature assistive AI capabilities for drafting, summarizing, revising, or migrating content?
- Can you communicate via the intranet to channels such as email, Teams, Slack, mobile, or digital signage?
- Can employees personalize how they receive communications?
2. Customization and design options
A reason intranets remain popular in successful workplaces is that they are uniquely customizable.
The business software products we all use every day are important in helping us to complete work, but only an intranet feels like a branded digital home for an organization.
Unlike most business apps, the best intranet platforms can be named and branded entirely in line with company guidelines, making them the first choice as SharePoint alternatives. The UX can be customized to the needs of employees and the demands of the industry. The content and the intranet design work together to increase employee engagement and implement values on every digital touchpoint.
Discover how customizable the intranet you are considering through a little bit of investigation.
Ask your potential vendors:
- Can the platform be branded and designed to make it reflect the style and culture of the company using it?
- How does the platform make the user experience easy and enjoyable for all employees?
- Does the product support design templates that non-developers can create, share, and reuse?
- Can the design theme be temporarily updated easily to celebrate calendar dates such as Pride or Halloween?
Accessibility should be a paramount consideration when shopping for a new company intranet due to its far-reaching impact on employee inclusivity and productivity. An accessible intranet ensures that all employees can navigate, access information, and engage with the platform effectively.
An accessible intranet also directly contributes to improved productivity and efficiency within the organization. When employees can access and interact with the intranet’s resources and tools seamlessly, it reduces barriers to information sharing and collaboration.
Ask potential vendors the following questions about the accessibility credentials of their product:
- How does the platform support mobile accessibility?
- What accessibility features does your intranet include for supporting people with physical, cognitive, literacy, or language challenges?
- Does your platform meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA standard?
4. Data storage, search, and integrations
All organizations store a wealth of resources that employees need to do their jobs. From HR policies to product information, a company intranet should be a well-organized repository that workers use to find up-to-date, authoritative material. In the biggest enterprises this can run to many thousands of pages, making content management a must.
A modern intranet should also function as a portal to the digital tools, resources, and apps that employees need to access. This can be achieved with an intranet platform that allows integrations with third-party content repositories and platforms such as Dropbox, ZenDesk, Salesforce, and Power BI.
Here are the questions you should ask to ensure your prospective intranet provider can support you in making that data easily findable.
- How does your intranet ensure that content is stored, updated, and accessed effectively?
- How does your system use metadata to improve content visibility and management?
- Does your platform’s search tool work with different content types, languages, and content repositories?
5. Employee voice
Employee voice is a crucial factor to consider when identifying the best intranet platforms.
A study conducted by The Workforce Institute at UKG found 74% of employees are more effective at their job when they feel heard, and amplifying their voices can create a more transparent and democratic work environment, leading to improved morale, innovation, and the alignment of organizational goals with employee aspirations.
A worthy intranet should provide employees with a platform to share ideas, feedback, and concerns, fostering a sense of ownership and inclusion within the organization.
Consider asking vendors these questions about their approach to employee voice:
- What features does your intranet platform provide for gathering feedback?
- How can your solution help us gather and manage employee ideas?
- What social intranet features does your product include for connecting employees in all locations across all levels of the business?
- How does your platform empower employees to self-publish intranet posts and start discussions that will amplify their voices?
6. Vendor information
The best intranet platforms are complex data ecosystems that mature over time. When implemented successfully they can become invaluable communication and collaboration platforms for employees. The best ones also improve employee experience and create communities of belonging based on an organization’s values.
This is an impossible amount to ask of software on its own, which is why buyers must understand as much about the company they’re buying from as the product itself. Not only should the vendor have a tried and tested methodology for planning and deploying your intranet, but their ability to fix bugs, provide advice, and develop exciting new features will ensure your continued success.
Here’s what the experts ask to understand a vendor’s expertise and experience:
- Where does your experience lie and what differentiates you as a company?
- How do you plan for the future?
- What professional services do you offer to support customer success?
Marry in haste, repent at leisure
Selecting a technology vendor and long-term partner is one of the most important tasks any organizational decision-maker undertakes. It can be complicated and time-consuming, but it is far better to take the extra time and ask important questions so that you get the information demonstrating how well a potential provider can support you.
Already know which intranet vendors you want to engage with? Get started on the RFP process with this helpful article: Create an Intranet RFP in 8 Simple Steps.