Can You Use SharePoint as an Intranet?

by Yvonne Harris

SharePoint is a popular Microsoft program used by millions of business organizations globally. Its popularity is thanks to SharePoint’s superior features, such as Microsoft 365 integrations, collaboration, and document management. This is why organizations looking for an internal communications tool often turn to SharePoint to build their company intranet.

While modern SharePoint can be used for many things, is it a reliable intranet solution? In short, yes. SharePoint can be used as an intranet, but it is not a complete intranet solution.

It’s difficult to answer whether your company would benefit from using SharePoint as an intranet. It all comes down to the goals of your organization. What are you looking to gain from a modern intranet?

If you have Microsoft 365 Office, SharePoint is a good option for you. We are here to highlight the primary benefits and potential drawbacks of using a SharePoint intranet. We want to help you make the most educated decision possible.

What are SharePoint intranets?

Microsoft SharePoint has been around since the turn of the century, and it is part of Microsoft’s family of solutions. SharePoint has several features, including internal/external communication, content, and project management. Many businesses also use SharePoint for storing and sharing documents. These capabilities are critical building blocks of a successful intranet.

What is the difference between an intranet and Sharepoint?

An intranet and SharePoint are related but distinct concepts. An intranet is a private network that is accessible only to an organization’s employees, while SharePoint is a software platform developed by Microsoft that is often used to build intranets. SharePoint provides a variety of tools and features that can be used to create and manage an intranet, such as document management, collaboration, and communication tools. It can be used to create websites, portals, and other types of content. In short, SharePoint is a software platform that can be used to create an intranet, but it is not the same thing as an intranet. An intranet is the internal network while SharePoint is the tool to build it with.

Why rely on SharePoint for your intranet?

You will find that SharePoint offers benefits to IT professionals, HR teams, Comms Managers, and end-users.

Below are the main reasons we believe the modernized version of SharePoint could serve as an effective corporate intranet solution for your business.

Microsoft 365 integrations

As previously mentioned, if you have already invested in Microsoft 365, it’s more likely that SharePoint could be suitable for your business. With SharePoint, users can edit documents in Word, integrate Yammer feeds, and access Microsoft Teams, among other things. It’s a terrific way to optimize your digital workplace experience and make the most of all Microsoft offers.

Information sharing

SharePoint supports internal communications, content management, document management, and permissions control. Documents can be shared with team members and edited simultaneously. With permissions, documents can also be restricted to specific users.

Thanks to these features, SharePoint is a centralized content repository and a single source of truth for company information.

If your organization is big on increasing its employee experience by promoting diversity, another great option is the ability to build a multilingual intranet.

Top-notch security

SharePoint hosts several security protocols that make it a safe solution for all. This includes multi-factor authentication and cloud storage (for SharePoint Online).

Also, in SharePoint Online, security patches and updates are automatic, so everything is taken care of in a practical, timely manner.

Collaboration

SharePoint provides a range of collaboration features that make it easy for teams to work together on projects and documents. This includes tools like document libraries, lists, and calendars, which help to streamline collaboration and increase productivity.

Scalability

SharePoint is a robust platform that can scale to meet the needs of organizations of all sizes. This means that it can grow and evolve with your business, providing the flexibility to adapt to new requirements as they arise.

Workflow Automation

SharePoint can be used to create custom workflows, which can help to automate and streamline business processes. This can help to improve efficiency and reduce errors.

Accessibility

SharePoint can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, which allows employees to work remotely and access important information and tools from anywhere.

Choices for SharePoint intranet solutions

If you build an intranet using SharePoint, you have three options available. You can create a basic SharePoint site with minimal customization or design a fully personalized intranet from scratch. Both options have limitations, so a SharePoint in-a-box might be your best bet if you want the best of both worlds.

Here are the three main solution choices:

SharePoint Intranet out-of-the-box

An out-of-the-box SharePoint solution is the most cost-effective for businesses, but it has no customizations. “Out-of-the-box” refers to SharePoint’s native features, everything that is available as standard. If you have a small organization and an IT professional that manages the day-to-day operations of your intranet site, this could be the best option for you.

SharePoint intranet in-a-box

A SharePoint intranet-in-a-box solution is ideal for mid to large companies that want to launch an intranet as quickly as possible without having a complete custom intranet. Unlike SharePoint out-of-the-box, this version includes ongoing support and expert help. You’ll be able to personalize and brand your intranet while benefiting from a quicker creation and deployment than a from-scratch intranet. SharePoint in-a-box solutions are developed by Microsoft partners, like Powell Software, so you benefit from Microsoft security and all the latest developments.

Custom intranet

Your organization could also decide to build an intranet on SharePoint from scratch. You would need an experienced IT team to manage every project step. This version is the costliest and made for enterprise-level businesses.

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Drawbacks of using a SharePoint Intranet

While many companies swear by SharePoint, some find that it doesn’t match their needs. Below, we will look at common issues users face with native SharePoint.

Some teams find it costly.

Building an intranet with native SharePoint from scratch can be expensive and time-consuming. At the start of an intranet project, SharePoint appears as a cost-saving intranet solution when organizations have an Office 365 subscription. However, transforming SharePoint into a complete intranet portal requires IT skills and custom developments.

In addition, ongoing maintenance of the platform can be costly as well. Initial software costs, ongoing licensing fees, and IT-related costs must be factored in.

Leveraging the power of an intranet-in-a-box solution can save weeks of work and cut costs with ready-to-use templates that can be deployed at scale.

Finding information is complex.

Small to mid-sized businesses often have the most trouble learning the ins and outs of SharePoint as it can be challenging to sift through. Some users find documents, data, and other information hard to find.

Even those who know how to use the search functions have found them overwhelming with either too many results or search errors.

A solution, like Powell Intranet, improves SharePoint search, making finding information more accessible.

Lack of the right skillsets can make it challenging to implement

Customization and personalization in native SharePoint are complicated. Your native SharePoint intranet will retain the traditional look and feel without the proper skill set.

Users have several customization options with an intranet on SharePoint, like Powell Intranet. You can change your theme in just a few clicks and implement your company branding across sites.

Certain collaboration features are missing.

You’ll find that there are two main collaboration features that SharePoint does not have: video calling and chat boxes. Moreover, team sites are categorized based on company departments, so communication can easily break down between groups.

Communication issues can be combatted by integrating Microsoft Teams into your intranet and vice versa. Both Powell Intranet and now native SharePoint make this possible.

How to set up a SharePoint Intranet for your company?

First, determine the specific business needs and goals for the intranet. Next, set up a SharePoint environment, which can be done through Microsoft’s cloud-based service, SharePoint Online, or by installing SharePoint Server on-premises. Create a hierarchy of SharePoint sites and pages, as well as a navigation structure that is intuitive for users to find what they need. Set up and configure security settings to ensure that only authorized users can access the intranet. Create and organize content, such as documents, lists, and libraries, to ensure that it is easy for users to find and access. Train users on how to use the intranet and provide ongoing support.

Setting up a SharePoint intranet like this from scratch can be a time-consuming project. You will need dedicated IT staff to create, design, and deploy the intranet. If your staff has no experience with SharePoint, this might not be an option. That is why many organizations choose to work with a third-party solution SaaS solution that offers pre-defined templates so that sites can be quickly deployed. These intranet solutions, like Powell Intranet, are more attractive and intuitive to use.

Best practices for SharePoint intranet design

When it comes to designing your SharePoint intranet, there are a few best practices that will make a big impact.

  • Keep the design simple and consistent across all pages.
  • Use a responsive design that adjusts to different screen sizes.
  • Use clear and consistent labeling and navigation.
  • Use images, videos, and other multimedia to make the intranet more engaging.
  • Encourage user feedback and make changes based on their suggestions.
  • Test the intranet with a small group of users before rolling it out to the entire organization.

How to measure the success of your SharePoint intranet

Once your intranet is up and running, you will want to prove your ROI quickly. Here are a few metrics to help you track success.

  • Track usage statistics, such as the number of users, pages viewed, and time spent on the intranet.
  • Monitor user satisfaction through surveys and feedback mechanisms.
  • Measure the impact of the intranet on business metrics, such as productivity and collaboration.
  • Monitor the intranet’s uptime and performance to ensure that it is functioning properly.
  • Continuously review and improve the intranet based on the gathered data.

You might find that SharePoint alone is not enough to meet the various demands of your organization. That’s why using a 3rd party intranet provider, such as Powell Intranet, could be a viable option to make the most out of your intranet solution. Not only can we help you repair gaps in collaboration abilities and skill sets, but we are also proven effective in reducing the time IT teams spend constructing and maintaining their intranet.

Want to dive deep into what Powell Intranet can add on top of SharePoint? Read more about Powell Intranet vs. SharePoint.

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