On occasion I get asked about intranets.
During the conversation I’ll write the word intranet down and then ask the person why?
They almost always respond with…
I’d like to have a place where all of my staff can go to get stuff.
Then I ask.
What kind of stuff?
They say things like HR forms, insurance information, and a company calendar.
Some ask for a little more.
For example - a place for staff to share documents.
What’s interesting is that in every case where someone has asked for an intranet it is because they come from a place that had an intranet.
What’s also interesting is that most people that want an Intranet had that intranet years ago.
In the end it would seem that most people can't fully describe the why and what of intranets.
All they know is that they want a centralized place where information is available.
That’s where people get stuck.
And that's fine.
It's where most people get stuck for a reason.
And that's because Intranets are difficult to envision.
Nowadays having people communicate and share information does not require an intranet.
The prevailing line of thought nowadays is that collaboration is king.
Intranets were originally designed to replace bulletin boards in the kitchen and manuals that were handed out to employees.
As business needs have morphed throughout the years the bulletin boards and manuals have been replaced by modern documentation and collaboration systems.
So what do you do if you’re trying to build an online space for your staff?
There are simple solutions out there that can provide staff information.
Apps and services like Microsoft Teams and BambooHR answer some of those challenges.
There are also tools like Slack or Confluence that would help move you towards centralized teams and collaboration.
But these are solutions.
And choosing solutions without understanding requirements can be a recipe for disaster.
It’s a backwards way of doing things.
Consider changing your frame of reference.
Ask yourself the following question.
What is the best way for staff at my company to access information about the following items?
Then list out the items.
Then if you go about trying to solve that problem...
Instead of trying to retrofit onto a assumed solution you’re trying to build a solution to your problem.
Intranets are a tricky thing.
When you look at them through the goggles of 2004 your short selling yourself onto an assumed solution.
Thinking that a website with links to stuff is going to improve communications for your company will not get you to where you want to be.
The Sharepoint Intranet of yesteryear is long gone.
Sure there are large organizations that have cool intranets built on Sharepoint.
They also have Database Administrators, Sharepoint Administrators as well as other people on staff to maintain their wizbang intranet.
Your company is a small business.
Your company has different needs.
Your company solves problems in different ways.
Ways that fit the way you work.
Small businesses typically have 100 employees or less.
The ROI on building and maintaining an intranet is just not there.
So are intranets dead?
Yes, they are.
Small businesses are diverse.
There are apps and services out there that will meet your needs for an internal communications platform without the need of custom software development.
It just takes a little planning and requirements building to get started.
Need some help figuring out how to empower staff communication and data access?
I do that.