Are you looking for intranet software for your small business?
If so, you may have discovered there are a lot of options out there. Narrowing them down can feel like an uphill struggle.
There are, however, many intranet features that small businesses can benefit from. Ultimately, you’re looking for ways to communicate with a potentially flexible workforce whilst maximizing on the time-saving features that will cut your busy employees a break.
Below, we run down the essential considerations for small businesses when choosing an intranet platform.
Before you browse: establish your requirements
Whilst flexibility and timesaving seem like universal goals for smaller businesses, your exact requirements – and how you prioritize them – will be unique.
For example, if your small business is highly collaborative and requires remote teams to work together seamlessly, you might prioritize team collaboration and knowledge management features.
On the other hand, if your employees have more individual workloads and are at risk of disengagement as a result, you could prioritize social feeds, discussion boards and instant chat to create a sense of belonging across the business and increase employee engagement.
Whatever your business looks like, it’s important to be thorough here. Get input from all key stakeholder groups and agree on a list of priorities. Take your time – poor requirements gathering is one of the most often cited reasons for IT project failure.
Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping around.
How to find the best intranet software for small business
Plan for remote work to stay
Recent data from Global Workplace Analytics suggests that businesses could save a staggering $11,000 (£8,255) per year for every employee that works remotely half the time. For small businesses, the impact of those savings would be significant indeed.
Meanwhile, according to Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work report, an overwhelming majority (97.6%) of remote workers want the ability to work from home some of the time, for the rest of their career.
On top of this, many small businesses are in a great place to go remote if they want to. Flexibility and relative freedom over premises mean that significant savings on overheads such as rent and office equipment could make remote working very attractive in the long term.
These three factors make planning for a remote or hybrid future workplace essential for small businesses. To support these goals, look for an intranet solution that:
- Can be hosted in the cloud: this makes access considerably easier for employees working from home.
- Offers social intranet features: many employers worry about the loss of company culture in remote teams. Make up for this with social posting, commenting and sharing features to help employees make connections across your business.
Look for good user experiences on desktop and mobile
Making your intranet user friendly is vital to encouraging adoption across your workforce. This is especially true if you expect people to access it via smartphone.
If you’re running a remote or hybrid business, it’s likely that at least some of your employees will be accessing your intranet via their smartphones.
If you run a business with on-the-ground frontline teams – a retail, hospitality, or healthcare business, for example – mobile access might be their only option. Employees with limited access to computers during the day, or with no company email address, won’t be able to check a desktop intranet. If you go down this route, you’re limiting vital communications with those employees.
To reach everyone in your business, ensure that your intranet is not just mobile accessible, but explicitly designed to be mobile friendly.
Employees won’t use it if not, and in many cases won’t be able to resort to desktop use.
Automation, automation, automation
One thing that small businesses lack? Time.
Your employees work hard. Some might wear many hats in an effort to keep things streamlined and reduce overheads. This means that you need to take every opportunity possible to save time so you can reinvest it elsewhere.
Your intranet software can help here. If you find an intranet which offers a good degree of process automation, your HR team/person and management staff can vastly reduce the time they spend on basic admin. You cut time spent on low-value tasks such as leave management and expense management by automating the process, so human resources can focus on areas that add value instead.
Administrative tasks get done quicker and with fewer errors. Your employees have less boring admin to do. The whole organization benefits. It’s a win-win.
Prioritize a good centralized document store
How much time do your employees lose per week looking for the right instructions, guides or information to perform their role effectively?
Document storage might not be the coolest intranet feature out there right now, but it is really one of the staples of what an intranet does. A company intranet with great document storage cuts out huge inefficiencies by centralizing all the key information your business needs on a day-to-day basis, in one place.
Think about how much more work you could get done if all the manuals for your equipment could be accessed via one central portal. Or how much time you will save if all the forms for ordering new stock were printable from one place.
As a small business, you want every minute of employee time to count. Effective document management saves time, effort and stress – so make sure your intranet can support it.