Intranet Buyer’s Guide: How To Select & Purchase an Intranet | Friday.app

How To Buy an Intranet (Guide & Feature List)

Posted by Josh Spilker

Wrong question: Do you need a new intranet?
Right question: What are you trying to accomplish with your company communications?

Just because you’ve always had an intranet at your company or at your last company doesn’t mean that the typical, traditional intranet is right for you. 

Traditional Intranet: Built by IT with bad UX that everyone forgets to use and takes months or years to deploy.

Modern Intranet: Purpose-built, easy-to-use, set up takes minutes (not months), deeply integrated with the tools your company uses to glue together the most important things at work in one place.

Many companies do not create a compelling case to invest in an intranet. It’s a bad word to a lot of forward-thinking CEOs. 

In fact, we’ve detailed several who have built their own company homes and digital HQ’s, because the current options (like Sharepoint or Confluence) just weren't cutting it. 

These include companies like: 

  • Shopify
  • Stripe
  • Automattic (creator of Wordpress)
  • Zapier

Read more about how these companies have set up their own company homes and intranet solutions and see below how Friday helps you do it.

Why You Should Consider a New Intranet Now

1. COVID has completely changed the way companies work

No one wants to be on video meetings all day. There have to be async solutions to balance quality of life and allow time for actual work. Remote work has enabled more flexible work. Can your intranet support that? 

Most intranets were created before COVID, which means that an intranet must look and be different.

Nielsen Norman group discusses the role of intranets in 2021 and how they were used to communicate vital information regarding COVID policies. According to that article, Keysight Technologies was able to post video updates to their intranet, while also sharing company announcements with a banner across their intranet. 

2. One source of truth

Teams without an intranet realized that there wasn’t a centralized location for their most important things at work. Or that tool fatigue was real. Some teams liked Confluence, others Notion. Still, more preferred an HR tool, while the day to day work was done in project management software. 

Employees are confused about the best options for them, and many teams split off to to do their own thing. What’s needed now more than ever is a dynamic intranet with a feed that is updated, while integrating well with the tools you already have. 

3. Speedy Growth

Is your company growing fast and need help with onboarding, company values, and alignment? Traditional intranets do a horrible job with that, meaning that you have to pull a bunch of disparate tools together. 

You also have the “filing cabinet” problem of Notion and Confluence–they are static, one-off tools that no one knows when they’re updated. You have to send out an email update or send out an announcement in Slack that is quickly lost once a Notion update is made. Modern intranets can scale as you scale with up-to-date information. 

Why Intranets (Usually) Fail

Companies cannot depend on an office like they used to.

Think about all of the old habits of an office–everyone was in an office park on the edge of town.

There were more “Hey, can I talk to you about…” and it was even easy to get pulled into HR, an onboarding meeting, or a team discussion.

It was simpler to create the context, connection, and alignment that was necessary when everyone was together in the same room.

Even if you still have an office, there are more remote and hybrid workers than before. 

Intranets tend to be adopted when a company is at its initial "breaking point." Multiple offices, fast hiring, and remote work can contribute to this. 

Intranet failure usually boils down to these points:

  • Failure #1: The average employees don't use intranets (or find value in them)
  • Failure #2: Intranets have too many features & complexity (especially when initially adopting)
  • Failure #3: The intranet foundation is static (The file cabinet problem)
  • Failure #4: Not used by executive suite
  • Failure #5: The intranet doesn't integrate with existing tools, causing tool fatigue and paralysis
  • Failure #6: Most intranets aren't fun to use!

If you want more details about these points, check it out here.

The Type of Intranet Can Also Hurt You

At Friday, we believe you need an easy, customizable solution right out of the box. 

Intranets often come as purpose-built solutions (like Friday), a highly customizable version that takes up IT resources (like Sharepoint), or an extensions like an intranet on top of Google Drive. 

The problem is…

You could invest loads of time and dev resources into a product that hardly anyone uses.

According to a recent Norman Nielsen report, the average time to develop an intranet since 2014 is 1.4 years! And that's with a dedicated team, only focussed on creating an intranet.

A modern intranet like Friday is easy to administer, and automatically updates itself with dynamic information. Your employees will have an intranet they actually want to use. 

Most intranets are static--whereas Friday is dynamic. That burden of creating an intranet content strategy is removed from your team.

What to Look For In an Intranet

A recent report from Forrester noted that these elements are becoming increasingly important in a modern intranet: 

  1. Two-sided and personalized communication: It's mainly about top-down communication, but also engaging with employees and providing a tool that everyone wants to use. Leaders and executives can find out what's happening from the front line and individual contributors, and having that info come from the bottom up. 
  2. Flexible design interface: Older intranets are hampered when only administrators or IT professionals can make changes. You need a dedicated designer and a dedicated IT person--the rest of the company is afraid to make changes! Who wants to be afraid of their intranet?
  3. Integrated to essential productivity tools. Each company must decide how their intranet will interact with their other productivity applications. If you're using workplace chat, your intranet needs to integrate with that. If you have multiple teams using different project management software, your intranet should support that. If you're using document management software, your intranet should integrate with that. And calendars? It should integrate with that, too.

How Friday Does This: 

1. Personalized communication with posts & team check-ins.

Posts provide a forum for big company announcements, but also for meeting notes or brainstorming within teams or individuals. Managers and employees can communicate and respond. If you have a big announcement for your company, Friday can make sure that's it seen.

Friday provides team check-ins that a whole team can read and comment on, administered by managers or other organizational leaders. This keeps a steady stream of dynamic information for your intranet, and makes it a regular destination for your employees.

2. Widgets (no developer needed): You don’t have to know stylesheets or Javascript to update your intranet. With Friday, no developer is needed. Administrators in Friday can use widgets to set up the intranet with the information they need, in a friendly, flexible interface. 

3. Connect & search the tools you already use: Friday complements Slack–it’s not a replacement but adds increased functionality, like sending company announcements directly to Slack via channels or in a DM. You can distribute the message (Slack & email) while keeping a central place for the message to live (Friday). Other integrations include project management software, calendars.

The Most Important Intranet Features

Look up any intranet software and it will have hundreds of features. But which ones are the most important? Many of these brands include legacy features that may not matter anymore. 

Circle back to that right question: What are you trying to accomplish with your company communications?

Here’s a full checklist of intranet features that we suggest you consider that will bolster your company communications. 

  1. Announcements & top-down updates
  2. Key Resources/Handbook
  3. Company Goals/KPIs
  4. Organizational chart
  5. Company Calendar/Important Events
  6. Employee/Team Directory
  7. People Profiles
  8. Kudos & Recognition
  9. Icebreakers
  10. Employee activity & important dates
  11. Updates and Feedback
  12. Check-ins & Updates
  13. Polls
  14. Suggestions & Idea Management
  15. Q&A and Discussion (optional)
  16. Comments and reactions
  17. Federated search
  18. Mobile-friendly design (at a minimum)
  19. Configurable (But not too much)
  20. Custom Branding/Colors
  21. Usage Analytics

You can get more details on the reasoning behind each of these, but the question still lingers: Is it easier for a dedicated dev team to build? Or maybe you should utilize them on another project? Instead, let dedicated, experienced developers build out your cloud HQ. 

Call it intranet-in-a-box if you want. And if it works, why not? 

Next step: Make a scorecard of the most important features, ranked with must-haves and nice-to-haves and then see which providers can meet those goals. 

How To Get Executive Buy In 

1. Show what problems this intranet can solve.

Take your scorecard or feature list and present it to your operations director, head of HR, or the CEO. Will this handle the problems you’re trying to solve? The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown is the perfect example of a problem. An intranet and modern company communication tool could have gone a long way in clarifying and solidifying a connection between the company and employees. 

What’s becoming more important as remote work increases is: connection, check-ins, and a central place for your most important things at work. To be honest, we know Friday can solve for those three things and do them well. You’ll have to consider your unique company circumstances, but these critical areas are not going away anytime soon. 

3. Create a business case with an executive sponsor

Gaining support for a new intranet is much easier with a C-level champion who clicks with the need. You’ll have to bring the whole company together with an intranet, so it’s important to have buy-in from the top. Locate a C-suite level sponsor before moving too far down your research list. 

The modern intranet is a digital HQ, re-imagining internal communications for employees with an updated experience. 

This new intranet may not be like the ones you’re used to. It may not be an intranet at all

Why Friday Can Be Your Modern Intranet & Hub for Company Communications

  • Digital HQ that centralizes your most important work in one place.
  • Modern and clean UX.
  • The only intranet purpose-built to complement Slack and work chat.
  • Posts make it easy to share company-wide announcements and see who viewed them.
  • People profiles and team directory to get to know coworkers.
  • Add-ons make Friday simple at first, yet extendable over time.
  • Integrates with all systems of record, like HRIS, Project management, and work chat.
  • Goal/OKR tracking, perfect for executive buy-in.
  • Company handbook for onboarding new hires in minutes vs. hours.
  • Use no-code widgets to build out your company home in a few minutes instead of months!

Pricing:

  • Individual Pro: $4 per month. Perfect for individuals who want to see how Friday works
  • Teams$6/per person /month. An offering for teams who want to use Friday as a small group
  • Company/Enterprise: For entire organizations who want to create a customizable company home.

Use Friday for free. No credit card required. Try all the features for the first 2 weeks.

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