Innovation

Seven essential features that must be in your corporate Intranet

Good news: your organization is heading down the path of greater efficiency and streamlined productivity through its new Intranet project, and you're part of the team that will make it all happen!

Your first order of business is to select the perfect product - one that fits into your budget and can be deployed in this century. No small task, when you consider the sea of vendors all presenting a slightly different version of what makes an Intranet worthy of your attention; or the fact that you need to find a product that excites employees, to ensure your Intranet is widely accepted. Put these seven "Can't Live Without It" (CLWI) features on your shopping list, and you'll be way ahead of the game.

CLWI #1: Let users decide what content's important

Don't force your community to mentally filter content displayed on the corporate welcome page. A product that lets users create personalized pages - with optional, irrelevant content already filtered out - keeps everyone focused on "what's new for me," not "what's new for everybody."

CLWI #2: Look for a product that integrates with business-critical databases

KPIs such as "total sales" and "volume shipped" keep departments agile and on track. Decision makers know the data is readily available in the ERP system and other internal databases, yet they're forced to take action with reports that show them the past, not present situation.

Help them respond in real time, by selecting a product that automatically refreshes company dashboards whenever the underlying data changes.

By also selecting a product that easily integrates with external sources, like RSS feeds that deliver current stock price, news, local traffic, and more, your Intranet's value will increase by having up-to-date information.

CLWI #3: Provide security for the organization's most-sensitive assets

Everyone in your company will have some information that's shared on a need-to-know basis. Financial data, personnel information, departmental strategies, and company plans all fall under this category.

Find a tool that lets users lock out unauthorized personnel. If you don't, they'll find their own safe haven elsewhere.

CLWI #4: Give users an easy way to add new content

People will always take the path of least resistance. Select a product that makes it easy for virtually anyone to publish content, and you'll find you have a user community that's excited about the launch and willing to help keep the Intranet fresh and evolving over time.

CLWI #5: Demand a tool that makes it easy for people to find what they need... even when they don't know what they're looking for

Pick a product that provides users several options for search, including traditional search - by specific words or phrases; via an online catalog organized by company-defined categories; or by filtering through content they've personally tagged or given custom labels to.

Take it further by demanding a product that provides multi-faceted search capabilities, pulling together all content and people connected to each other in some fashion; keywords, tags, categories, author, department, and more.

CLWI #6: Pick a tool that will help streamline business workflows, too

An Intranet with workflow capabilities to efficiently process things like vacation requests and expense report re-imbursements will make your Intranet extremely popular.

Pick a tool that turns time-consuming, paper-pushing processes into streamlined online processes that save time and money.

CLWI #7: Bring social networking to your Intranet.

Companies are beginning to recognize the value that social sites bring to business: the ability to cultivate a sense of community. Furthermore, there is an increasing demand by employees to bring networking capabilities inside the corporate walls.

By selecting an Intranet product that supports social networking, employees can find people they don't know, but need to work with, and you can create a sense of community in your far-reaching organization.

By taking the time to filter vendors through your "Can't live without it" lens, you'll actually save time and money (not to mention heartache), and you'll launch an Intranet that everybody loves - faster.

Martin Amm is the CEO and one of the founders of adenin TECHNOLOGIES, providers of IntelliEnterprise, the fully-integrated Intranet suite for mid-sized to large organizations. Mr. Amm has more than 26 years of hands-on experience in the software industry, both in management and software development. Before founding adenin, he was the CEO of amasis Software Corporation, an ERP vendor, and of TWO to ONE Consulting Ltd. Mr. Amm speaks at industry conferences on the topic of Intranet best practices. He can be reached at martin.amm@adenin.com.

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