Building a Staff Intranet: A Practical Guide for Success
Having an efficient and user-friendly staff intranet is essential for any organization. It serves as a central hub for employees to access important information, collaborate on projects, and stay connected with their colleagues. SharePoint, a powerful platform developed by Microsoft, is widely used for building intranets due to its flexibility and extensive features.
Designing Your Intranet
The first step in building a successful staff intranet is designing its layout and structure. Consider the needs and preferences of your employees, and create a design that is intuitive and easy to navigate. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Information Architecture: Plan the organization and categorization of content on your intranet. Use logical and intuitive navigation menus to help users find what they need quickly.
- Branding and Visual Design: Customize the look and feel of your intranet to match your organization’s branding. Use consistent colors, fonts, and imagery to create a cohesive and professional appearance.
- User Experience: Focus on creating a user-friendly interface that is easy to use and understand. Consider the needs of different user groups and provide personalized experiences where possible.
Developing Your Intranet
Once you have finalized the design of your staff intranet, it’s time to start developing it using SharePoint. You have two options: SharePoint On-premise or SharePoint Online.
If your organization prefers to have full control over the infrastructure and data, SharePoint On-premise is the right choice. It allows you to host your intranet on your own servers and gives you more customization options. However, it requires a dedicated IT team to manage and maintain the infrastructure.
SharePoint Online, on the other hand, is a cloud-based solution provided by Microsoft. It offers a more cost-effective and scalable option for building your staff intranet. With SharePoint Online, you don’t have to worry about infrastructure management, as Microsoft takes care of it for you. It also provides regular updates and new features.
Outsourcing SharePoint Development
Building a staff intranet can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you don’t have the in-house expertise or resources, outsourcing SharePoint development to a specialized agency can be a smart decision. Here are some benefits of outsourcing:
- Expertise: SharePoint development agencies have a team of experienced professionals who are well-versed in building intranets. They have the knowledge and skills to create a customized solution that meets your specific requirements.
- Time and Cost Savings: Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core business activities while the agency takes care of the development process. It can also be more cost-effective than hiring and training an in-house team.
- Quality Assurance: SharePoint development agencies follow best practices and quality standards to ensure that your intranet is secure, reliable, and performs optimally.
Custom SharePoint Development
While SharePoint provides a wide range of out-of-the-box features, you may have unique requirements that require custom development. A SharePoint development agency can help you build custom solutions that integrate seamlessly with your intranet. Here are some examples of custom SharePoint development:
- Workflow Automation: Automate repetitive tasks and streamline business processes using SharePoint workflows.
- Integration with Third-Party Systems: Integrate your intranet with other business systems such as CRM, ERP, or HRM to create a unified platform.
- Custom Web Parts: Develop custom web parts to extend the functionality of your intranet and provide additional features.
Managed SharePoint Services
Once your staff intranet is up and running, it requires ongoing maintenance and support. Managed SharePoint services offered by specialized agencies can help you ensure the smooth operation of your intranet. Here are some key benefits:
- Proactive Monitoring: Managed services providers monitor your intranet 24/7 to identify and resolve any issues before they impact your users.
- Regular Updates and Maintenance: They keep your intranet up to date with the latest security patches, bug fixes, and feature updates.
- User Support: Managed services providers offer technical support to your employees, helping them resolve any issues they may encounter while using the intranet.
Building a staff intranet using SharePoint can greatly improve communication, collaboration, and productivity within your organization. By following the practical guide outlined in this article, you can ensure the success of your intranet project. Whether you choose to develop it in-house or outsource it to a SharePoint development agency, the key is to design a user-friendly interface, develop a robust and customized solution, and ensure its ongoing maintenance and support.