What is an Intranet, Definition, Benefits, and Best Practices?

by Yvonne Harris

Communication and sharing information are two of the most critical aspects of an organization. So, effective means of sharing information resources and applications are essential.  To fulfill this, companies must utilize a solution that allows them to create a secure, private, and centralized environment for collaboration, communication, and sharing of documents, data, and other resources. This article expounds on the use of an intranet, providing all the information needed to understand the intricacies of using an intranet solution.

What is an Intranet?

An intranet is an internal network that connects people and resources within an organization. It is used to facilitate communication and collaboration between members of the organization and typically only allows access to authorized users. It can be used to share documents, provide access to applications, host websites, and provide a platform for collaboration.

Intranet networks are usually secure and can be accessed from any location, allowing for secure remote access to the company’s information. This enables the streamlining of operations across employees and teams as information can be accessed on the go.

Intranet, internet, and extranet – what is the difference?

Intranet, internet, and extranet are all types of networks that differ in terms of their purpose and access privileges. All three networks can be used to share information and resources, but the extent of access and the level of security vary between them, and herein lies the palpable differences between each.

An intranet is a private network that is accessible only to a specific group of people, such as employees of a particular organization. It is used to provide secure internal communication and collaboration among members of the organization. It typically includes features such as file sharing, messaging, and web-based applications.

On the other hand, the internet provides the same services; used to connect computers and devices around the world, allowing users to share information and communicate with each other, but is a global public network that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The internet is also the platform for many popular services such as email, social media, and search engines; this is different from the intranet, which only grants authorized internal access.

An extranet is a private network that is accessible to a select group of users outside of the organization. It is often used to share data and resources with customers, suppliers, and business partners. It can also provide access to web-based applications and services unavailable on the public internet.

In summary, an intranet is a private network for a specific organization, the internet is a public network accessible to everyone, and an extranet is a private network for a select group of users outside the organization.

 

What is the purpose of Intranet software?

Intranet software is a tool used to create and manage an intranet. You would find a variety of intranet software providers, each offering varying levels of functionality and features that can help manage a company’s intranet.

The software provides a secure platform for sharing resources and data with employees. It may include features such as file sharing, messaging, collaboration, and search capabilities. Some intranet software can also host company websites and help with project management and task organization. The essence of the software is to help companies harness the full power of intranet solutions.

What are the benefits of intranet software for the company?

1. Streamlined Communication

 Intranet software facilitates centralization, making it easier for employees to connect with colleagues and access important information. This can include everything from internal messaging to document sharing and project management.

An intranet makes it easier for teams to communicate, share documents and collaborate on projects, regardless of location or time zone. This improved communication can lead to better decision-making, greater efficiency, and enhanced service.

 

2. Enhanced Security

This digital solution can help companies protect sensitive information and keep unauthorized personnel from accessing confidential data. Intranets can be secured with user authentication and access control, so only authorized personnel can access sensitive information. This can help minimize the risk of data breaches and protect the company’s confidential information.

 

3. Increased Employee Engagement

By providing employees with the tools to collaborate, share ideas, and stay updated on company news, intranet solutions enhance employee engagement.  This can help keep employees informed and engaged, resulting in higher morale, greater job satisfaction, and improved performance.

 

4. Cost Saving

Intranet software also helps companies save money by reducing the need for physical storage and paper-based processes. As intranets can be used to store and share documents electronically, there is a reduced need for printing, paper, and other physical media. This can help reduce costs associated with physical storage and paper-based processes, saving the company time and money.

 

How do Intranets Work?

An intranet is a private network contained within an enterprise or organization and uses the same Internet protocols and services, such as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), as the public internet but is only accessible by authorized users within the organization or enterprise. They are also used to host private websites that are accessible only to authorized users.

Firewalls and other security protocols protect the intranet networks to ensure that only authorized users can access the content. Authentication is commonly used to confirm the identity of users before allowing them to access the intranet resources. Access control lists are also used to determine which users can access which resources.

 

How to implement an intranet?

  • Understand the specific needs and goals of your organization. Based on this, decide which platform you will use for your intranet.
  • Set up user accounts and configure security settings.
  • Create the intranet’s structure, including navigation and content organization.
  •  Design the look and feel of the intranet, including the layout, color scheme, and branding.
  • Test the intranet before launching it to ensure it is functioning correctly.
  • Provide training and support to users to ensure they understand how to use the intranet.
  • Regularly monitor the intranet to ensure functionality and security.

 

What features should an intranet include?

An intranet should include helpful features for the company and its employees.

 

Document Management

This allows for the storage and organization of documents and should include the ability to assign permissions to different levels of users. This will enable employees to easily access and share documents while ensuring that sensitive information remains secure. It should also provide version control and audit trails to track document changes.

 

Communication Tools

An intranet platform is incomplete without advanced tools to facilitate internal communication. These should include messaging, forums, media-sharing tools, and a comment system to allow employees to communicate with each other in an organized and efficient manner.

 

A Corporate Calendar

A corporate calendar to keep track of important events and deadlines is highly beneficial. This will help employees stay organized and informed about company activities.

 

Employee Directory

 An employee directory that allows users to search for contacts by name, department, or other criteria will go a long way to facilitate quick communication between employees and teams.

 

Task Management

An intranet should include a task management system to allow for the tracking and assignment of tasks. This will help to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that everyone involved is aware of their responsibilities.

 

Reporting and Analytics

 An adequate intranet solution should include reporting and analytics capabilities to provide insights into employee performance and productivity. This will help identify improvement areas and ensure that employees are meeting their targets.

 

How to ensure an intranet’s security?

Ensuring an intranet’s security is essential to protect the company’s data and resources and can be achieved by implementing various measures.

  • Install a firewall and use anti-virus software to protect the network from outside attacks.
  •  Use encryption to protect data transmitted over the network. Establish a secure password policy and regularly monitor the system for any suspicious activity.
  • Utilizing two-factor authentication and other multi-factor authentication methods is a great way to ensure that only the right people have access to the system. Additionally, use IPS and IDS systems to detect and stop malicious traffic.
  • Regularly review and update the security policies and procedures to ensure the system is up to date. Follow this by periodically testing the system for any vulnerabilities to strengthen the intranet’s security further.

 

Intranet Best Practices

  1. Keep it Simple: Intranets should be designed to keep things simple, allowing users to quickly navigate and access the information they need. This can be achieved by avoiding cluttering the interface with too many images or links and creating a clear information hierarchy.
  2. Make it Accessible: Ensuring that the intranet is accessible to all users, regardless of their ability, is key to providing a positive user experience. This includes ensuring screen readers can read all text and that all images have appropriate alt tags.
  3. Keep it Up to Date: It’s essential to keep the intranet updated with the latest information. This ensures that users can access the most current information to make informed decisions.
  4. Allow for User Feedback: Allowing users to give feedback and suggestions is essential to ensure that the intranet meets user needs. This can be done through surveys, polls, and other ways of collecting user feedback.
  5. Monitor Usage: Monitoring usage can help to identify areas that need improvement and ensure that content is relevant. This can be done by tracking page views, time spent on pages, and other metrics

 

How to boost the adoption of a newly created intranet platform?

To ensure that employees use the intranet, it’s essential to make sure that it is easy to use and understand. A cumbersome and non-intuitive platform may significantly deter employees and cause reluctance to accept the platform.

  •  Providing training to ensure that employees are familiar with the platform is a surefire way to build enthusiasm about the use of the platform
  • Employees can also be encouraged to use the intranet by offering incentives and rewards for using the platform
  •  Regularly updating the intranet and utilizing the best providers with the most enhanced and user-friendly features is a great way to sustain the acceptance and utilization of newly integrated intranet platforms.

 

How to analyze and measure the benefits of intranets on a company’s productivity?

Measuring the impact of the intranet on the company’s productivity is essential as it helps to ascertain the cost-effectiveness and overall benefits. Here are a few ways to analyze the benefits of the intranet solution.

 

Gather feedback from employees

Ask employees how they use the intranet and how it is helping them work more efficiently. This can be done through surveys or focus groups.

 

Track usage statistics

Monitor the number of active users, pages viewed, and features used. This will help you identify which features are used and whether they increase productivity.

 

Measure time saved

 Calculate the time saved by using the intranet instead of more manual processes.

 

Track employee engagement

Use metrics such as employee satisfaction surveys to determine how engaged workers are with the intranet.

 

Monitor changes in business outcomes

Analyze data such as customer satisfaction ratings, sales figures, and operational costs to determine if the intranet is helping to improve overall business performance.


[FAQs]

What is an intranet?

An intranet is an internal, private network within an organization that authorizes access to individuals and is used for communication and collaboration among its staff.

 

Is a company intranet still a good internal communication and collaboration tool in 2023?

Yes, and this is owing to the numerous benefits offered for communication and collaboration.

Intranets may be used to enhance operational flow through document management, workflow automation, and online collaboration tools. It can also be leveraged to offer secure access to cloud-based services and applications to enhance productivity.

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