Every organisation that has more than a handful of employees can benefit from having an intranet. It offers a casual, multi user, easy to access, up-to-date means of communication. Communication is key in any business, therefore so is an intranet.

The big question for business decision makers is whether to buy ready-to-go intranet software or build your own bespoke software. The correct answer depends on your business needs, your combined technical ability and of course, budget. Because there are so many great intranet ‘Ready to use’ products available, it does seem wise to buy unless you have very specific requirements. Products such as SharePoint or Confluence offer intranet, document management and workflow systems with out-of-the-box functionality that you can quickly deploy and set up. Other reputable systems include Huddle and Slack.

Key considerations when making your decision include hosting and usability. Will you be hosting the intranet internally or on the cloud? Are you geared up for remote access over a VPN type connection or is the cloud better.

The standard functionality of any intranet includes integration with email and calendars, the ability to collaborate on documents and pages, company communications, How-To articles, People search or ‘Who-is directory’. It should offer remote access, be secure and provide a user-friendly environment, even for non-technical users.

Less frequently required features include blogs, company workflow and integration with other in-house systems or programs. Some users might also require remote access from mobile devices.

Before deciding which way forward, you should also establish who is going to be maintaining the intranet. It should have a dedicated editor or curator that can ensure accuracy and keep pages up-to-date and relevant with easy-to-use page creation, widgets, notifications and comments. If users become swamped with old, out-of-date information that cannot be relied on for accuracy, your team will very quickly abandon the intranet and it will become useless. Before looking at any of the products available, the team should be considered. Who will be editing, who will be contributing. How much technical expertise do they have? Start with the team, not the technology.

If building a bespoke product is the only way you will get the full control offunctionality and the integration that you require or meet any other specific needs, you should still consider the team first, and then other key factors like time scales and budget. Should you require bespoke intranet software, Synetec can advise, build and integrate your intranet to ensure you end up meeting all your business needs. Alternatively, you might simply require advice on software selection and set-up which they will be happy to offer.

George Toursoulopoulos is a technology specialist and CEO of Synetec, one of the UK’s leading providers of bespoke software solutions.

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