Digital Workplace Best Practices: Intranet Must Haves

by Esther Daga

Did you miss our webinar? Watch the webinar recap video to learn about the must-have intranet features that every employee can benefit from.


Our Essential Intranet Features

Whether you are in the first steps of digital transformation or doing a complete overhaul of your SharePoint intranet solution, it pays to start simple and create a list of intranet “must-haves”. This webinar will give you the knowledge it takes to make the right decision during the creation of your business intranet platform. This session is best suited to intranet managers and IT leaders tasked with the creation of company digital workplace solutions.

Watch the video!

In this video, Powell Software will walk you through our list of essential intranet features and template to ensure your social intranet effectively engages employees, supports daily operations and echoes company values. Using these top features will create the basic foundations of a successful intranet project.

The webinar agenda

The first thing we’re going to do is make a little introduction of Powell Software. Second, we’re going to go through some intranet must-haves, some best practices of what to include in your intranet portal. Then we’ll do a short little demo of Powell 365 and show you how the different features could look within your intranet solution. Finally, we’ll go over the benefits and ROI of adding these must-have features and conclude the webinar.

The presenters

You will hear from Ryan Orheck, the director of sales for Powell software. He is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. We also have on the call Oscar Burns who’s our business developer. Oscar’s located in our Paris office.

Powell 365 Intranet Solution

Powell Software provides digital workplace solutions for companies looking to enrich their office 365 investment. Our flagship product Powell 365, even though it tends to fall into the intranet-in-a-box category our company can provide much more than that. We strive to offer a fully digital workplace experience with all our products.

Meeting your needs

Typically, we see companies that are trying to get the most out of your Office 365 and SharePoint investment. We know that you’re facing a lot of different challenges within your organization on the business side. You know you want something that has a compelling look and feel, something that can show your company branding. It needs to be mobile and fully personalized. Everybody wants something that has a clean design, is easy to manage, has good deployment speed, really offers and integrates all the different office 365 components, and also offers some security. We feel that Powell 365 checks all the boxes on those needs.

We take all of the aspects of the regular day-to-day operations and put them into designed templates with added features that boost communication and collaboration. Then we connect everything into one full digital workplace. It’s a multi-device. All our products have full responsive design. We also have native apps for both Android and Apple platforms. Powell 365 is fully personalized so everything that you’ll see in the webinar is just our demo environment and the way that we laid it out but you can completely personalize it however you want to and give the product a different look and feel with all of your company branding, coloring, logos, etc.

Must have intranet features

What we’re going to talk about today is some of what we feel are the intranet must-have features and page templates. These templates are something that every business can benefit from. Plus all of the templates we talk about today come out of the box with the Powell 365 solution. If you were to implement Powell 365 tomorrow, we have templates for every one of these pages that can easily be modified and customized to fit your company, your schemes, everything.

News Publishing

The first part, which we use as a kind of homepage is news publishing. Our news publishing web part gives you all of the ability, from the top-down and bottom-up communication to keep all of your employees informed. This web part allows you to target news by groups or departments. You can create a fully personalized experience with end-users thanks to specific filtering and you’ll see this in the demo. We offer interactive features such as rating comments and sharing capabilities. Then we give those with Admin rights the ability to update and edit information directly within the portal. You can manage the back office of the portal from right inside of the portal. Please note, this isn’t for every employee but only those with the correct rights.

Homepage features

On our home news page and you’ll see that this has all of our global company news. One of the neat things is if I click on this at all, it actually will drill down and give you a little bit more information on the news. It will give you some analytics here as to who publish these stories. What category they were in if you want to categorize them. You can see who the author was when they were created, you’ll notice too, as I mentioned earlier, you can comment on all of our articles, it shows you when they were published. It’s very, very complete and gives you full control over the news that you’re sharing on a regular day.

Departement news

We have a feature for department news where you can change the preferences to filter which news you want to see. For example, you only want to see the IT news instead of the marketing news, you can save that preference. Then in the future, you will only see stories from those selected departments. These features create interactive engagement with the options to like, comment, share. In Powell 365 we aggregate all of our comments in Yammer. This creates the full Office 365 experience. Also, it enables easier editing options, from right within the site. Click the pencil to go into the Edit page and make easy edits to any news story. Again, this is all based on user rights. Not everybody’s going to have the ability to access this.

Staff Directory

The next important web part to have is a staff directory. Every company should include some sort of staff directory. This gives employees the ability to find the right people and in turn, get the right information. In this feature, you can browse all your team member profiles and get to know other employees. You can quickly search through the corporate community and filter all of your employees by name, department, location and employee profiles. The employee profile is a card with specific information on a single employee. It includes their name, job title, a little bit of an org chart for management. Our example is very detailed. The more information you can seamlessly and nicely share with employees the better-done staff directory.

This is our staff directory tab. You can search for any employee by name and are tied to a user’s Outlook contacts. Anytime Outlook is updated, this feature is going to be automatically updated. It’s always going to be current. If I click on any of these, you’ll notice, it’ll bring a card over. This card shows contact information, any last documents that they were working on and show the org chart to understand where they are in the management structure.  It gives you a very good idea where people fall within the organization and how to get ahold of them. That’s why we feel that it’s something very important to include in corporate intranets.

Knowledge Center

A page template that we feel is vital is what we call our Knowledge Center. This is actually within the part of our portal dedicated to our Human Resources. Again, you can put it anywhere you want to. The Knowledge Center is something that we feel helps improve employee happiness with an information-rich platform. It’s easy to navigate and find important information. You can track commonly used documents and include dedicated FAQs for all of your employees. This gives you quick access to common forms such as expense reports and leave requests. We feel is it essential as it helps simplify the onboarding process for new employees.  Please remember that with Powell 365 this is just some of the features that you can include in that Knowledge Center.

Template options

As mentioned, our Knowledge Center is managed by Human Resources. So, this falls within our HR department tab. You can see the way we set up to include everything from policies to new employee announcements. Some information is set up as a list. But we also use picture-based documents within a search function instead of just a list. As you notice this page includes all different kinds of ways to show and share data. We include everything from career functions, employee onboarding, a glossary, reference documents, FAQ’s, etc. You can build this page template out to however you want it to be.

Companies need to have an EHR or a knowledge base like this. This page is going to be the main reference for people to most commonly viewed content, best-rated information, and most recent news. We feel that it gives people a place to go when they’re looking to find something. It is a place for your employees to go to look for the answers to their everyday questions.

Personal employee dashboard

The next key page template is what we call our personal dashboard. The “my board” page is a kind of launchpad for each employee. This is where they are going to go to when they log-in in the morning and open up the corporate intranet. This is a personal dashboard that targets each specific employee. It includes everything that the end-user is going to work on that day. The dashboard compiles the day to day operational tools that you’re going to use. This means your calendar, your emails, any of your Yammer discussions, if you’re using Groups and Teams, etc. We feel that it is one organized and high-performance platform that helps you manage every task being used in the Microsoft Outlook infrastructure or Office 365 infrastructure.

My Dashboard template

In our intranet, we call it the “My Dashboard” template. This is what I was referring to as a kind of employee launch pad. It’s where you’re going to come every day when you log in to work. The first thing you see is the Outlook feature, which links emails and next events into the dashboard. Then you’ll reach the “My Tasks” feature which is linked to Planner. It shows the tasks that were scheduled for the day. Further down you’ll find a Yammer feed as well as my Teams and Groups.

Delve is integrated into this template to uncover all recent documents as well as the shared documents. As we use Delve, remember that all the data is linked to the user. Plus, it is security trimmed. Not everybody’s going to be able to see user documents. It’s just my activities or my dashboard. In our company, it’s a place that we see a lot of people going, typically to start their day to what their entire day has in store.

Microsoft Teams Communities

The last imperative web part to include in your intranet portal is what we call our team communities. Microsoft Teams is something that Microsoft if you’re familiar with the Microsoft infrastructure, they’re pushing MS Teams very heavily. We have full integrations with MS Teams which helps you create rich conversations and keep people engaged. The Team communities web part helps you organize and improve employee to employee communication. It includes features to gauge employees’ reactions and ideas, and accelerate workflows, share knowledge and simplify how a company manages all of their Teams. In this web part, anything that your team is working on from documents to conversations to anything that’s going on within that Team, channels or folders.

We integrate Microsoft Teams completely in our corporate intranet. This feature lists all the members and includes any recent conversations. You can add team members, email team members directly, find files that the team is working on and publish calendar dates in the planner from within the feature. You also have to possibility to go directly to the team site thanks to the complete integration. The only thing we’re waiting for is the Microsoft API to be a little more complete. Still, it’s a nice way to take advantage of Microsoft Teams function within the intranet.

How to implement intranet best practices

At Powell Software, our intranet portals are made up of two separate platforms per se that work together. The first platform is Powell Manager. Powell Manager is our design and implementation engine where you are going to design, all of your pages, your layouts, your colors, your themes, etc. Then you’re going to deploy your finalized portal into your Office 365 tenant, or if you’re On-Premises, or if you want to do a hybrid situation, we can help you with that as well.

The second platform is what we call Powell sites. This is your intranet, a ready-made digital workplace that incorporates all of the Microsoft Office 365 features. We deliver to end users all the information they need to work better. We offer a compelling and personalized experience as I mentioned and just integrate all of the different office 365 components to help you increase user engagement adoption.

Evergreen solutions

Powell Mananger is not only a way to build pages but also a whole new way to manage and maintain your solution. This tool updates all  SharePoint groups and environments in a streamlined and automated way. We take care of all the Office 365 compliance and offer seamless updates. Any changes in Office 365 are integrated within Powell Manager and Powell 365 as soon as they are available from Microsoft. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we typically get updates at least a week or two before they’re out to the public. So, there’s never really a time that our site is not up to date. You can update everything with a simple click and there’s no need to create complex scripts. We offer fully evergreen solutions.

Return of investment

Let’s speak a little about the benefits of investing in these must-have features and templates within your intranet project. One of the great things to look at is the policy behind the key functional benefits.  On one hand, you are taking advantage of your Office 365 investment and using the latest SharePoint publishing site and SharePoint modern experience. On the other hand, these templates and features show how a company invests in its employees. There is a list of ways these different features drive employee engagement as they are built with employee needs in mind. These tools work together to respond to everyday employee needs while driving communication and collaboration. Building real connections and sharing company information insightfully and appealingly with your branding.

Out of the box options

The beautiful thing about Powell 365 is that we don’t want you to waste time building your portal from scratch. Right off the bat we offer a solution that is kind of like the WordPress for SharePoint, where we’ve created all the web parts, as Ryan showed you, built the connectors, not only to the Office 365 suite but also to external connectors within the LinkedIn, Salesforce, Nintex and so on. And for that reason, you can cut the design time by a third. I always say if you cut the design time, then obviously your cost is going to be cut by half. And the same idea for building time. Since we’ve given you such a great place to start with ready-made templates, you cut your project time down by 10 days, and 70% of your costs.

Plus, Powell Software is here to help to minimize stress in portal evolution and maintenance. Since it’s very easy to maintain with Powell licenses. We have a set of teams ready to offer full support, whether it be for development or with other clients on our Client Yammer network.

About Powell Software

From our humble beginnings, the US office was launched in 2016. We have grown from zero to now over 135 customers all over Europe and the United States. We now help 600,000 plus users across the globe with their day to day business operations. Since we do work prefer working with local partners for that reason, we have partners all around the world; in France, Europe and South America, all the way from Japan, the Cook Islands, to several here in the US.  Today we have two offices in North America, in Charlotte and Seattle on top of our other international offices in Paris, Bordeaux and Hong Kong.

Award-winning solutions

Our company and our products are well known and have been mentioned in a couple of analysis reviews: The clear boxing consultant report named Powell 365 one of the Top Intranet choices. Lecko consulting, a company out of France, also named Powell 365 one of the top successful choices for digital transformation. We’ve also been rated highly by Gartner, a US research company in a recent report.

Our client base is also very much growing. Our products respond to not only specific employee needs but also specific market needs. So we have customers coming from all different kinds of industries. For example, we work with clothing companies, champagne creators, transport and public sectors as well as some big names in the US such as Shire pharmaceuticals and Loves, who are responsible for gas stations all across the US, and they’re based out of Oklahoma.

Contact us

I hope you enjoyed this short and sweet demo going through all of the must-have features and templates that we feel are imperative to any company internet. We would love to know if you’ve seen something you like. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a deep dive into the Powell 365 intranet solution as these are only the essential features we’ve covered in today’s webinar.

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