Intranets put together with extranets (an extended version of an organizationâ€™s intranet that can be accessed by outsiders such as suppliers, consultants, etc), find application in a wide variety of tasks, right from tracking deliveries to administration, and from sales to payroll monitoring. You can customize your intranet system according to the end userâ€™s needs and also your budget. The most common obstacle that tends to arise is resistance from end users. And it typically happens when the end users are not involved from an early stage to develop the system.
Team Computers went in for an intranet system to facilitate co-ordination across 60 locations and their sales people have benefited tremendously from it. The company is currently expecting substantial benefits from their portal. With their Enterprise Information Portal, they expect about 26% increase in productivity with every individual, and by any standards this is a great benefit for a company. With EIP, they have also eliminated many human interventions, duplication of work and maintained transparency very tactfully.
However, despite all the obvious benefits associated with them, organizations often tend to set up intranets merely to compete with the Joneses or to handle basic HR functions. This is like using a high-powered rifle to shoot down flies. Intranets have immense potential and need to be designed too share knowledge and meet business goals. The most successful intranets are the ones whose objectives are most closely tied to the businessâ€™s objectives.
The differentiator between a â€˜good intranetâ€™ and a â€˜badâ€™ one are
1. Clear and neat categorization as opposed to a jumbled listing of applications
2. A good intranet management policy where the organization has a dedicated team keeping the information up to date and reliable.
Some of the key challenges faced by a company in implementing intranet system were integrating the intranet with business.
Developing appropriate information architecture fitting the business model, along with institutionalization of effective processes for knowledge capturing, knowledge storage and knowledge dissemination using the intranet was a challenge. It also required seamless collaboration with diverse stakeholders like HR, Finance, Quality group, Payroll, Administration etc. The other challenges faced while creating the intranet were designing it in terms of speed and performance and ensuring adequate data security.
Intranets are going beyond mere knowledge sharing platforms. Intranets will become a Virtual Desk for an employee, a place where he can access business applications for transacting business and use online tools for collaborating with suppliers, customers, knowledge communities, colleagues etc. It will also facilitate usage of Internet and video phones and conferencing tools for communication and meetings.
Today, intranets have grown rapidly and become much more than a network of computer strung together in cyberspace. But as the intranet grows, so do your responsibilities towards it.
Maintenance is a major issue. The main issue is ensuring that the intranet is kept updated, both in terms of technical features and in terms of content input. Also keeping the content and technology current, adding new publishers and users, maintaining database, coping with growing demand for bandwidth, applications and information are some of the challenges to deal with every day. Employee blogs and â€˜wikisâ€™ have made their way into intranets. The size of the organization really doesnâ€™t matter. Correct and adequate communication, site improvements, and meaningful incentives that encourage employee involvement will make intranets more effective and meaningful.