Most companies incorporate an intranet into their business in some capacity. An intranet is a private computer network that operates within an organization and facilitates internal communication and information sharing with the same technology used by the internet. The major difference is that an intranet is confined to an organization, while the internet is a public network that operates between organizations.
With an effective intranet infrastructure, an organization can reap benefits across the board. In fact, an intranet can significantly improve efficiency and performance. Still, there are risks associated with setting up an intranet. Here, we'll discuss the pros and cons. (To learn about other enterprise IT solutions, see Faceoff: Virtual Desktop Infrastructures Vs. Virtual Private Networks.)
Increases Employee Productivity
Having access to all the resources you need to perform your job tasks is an essential aspect of productivity. If you have to constantly take time out to find required information or are unclear of recent changes to your responsibilities, then that will have a negative impact on your productivity. An intranet acts as a one-stop shop for all workers. It provides them with all the relevant announcements, tools and information to perform their jobs. Easy access is provided to workers by placing all the important information and tools on their individual desktops, which allows them to work smarter and faster.
Allows for Greater Collaboration
An intranet provides effective collaboration tools that are adaptable to a range of personal styles and communication methods. Every company has a diverse range of employees – each with different working styles and communication methods – and each individual has his or her own work style. Thus, collaboration between workers can be difficult.
An effective intranet solution provides separate areas for each department, allowing workers to collaborate and share relevant departmental information. An intranet also facilitates cross-department communication, which breaks down barriers and enables open communication between management and departmental levels. This functionality gives individuals opportunities to share potentially beneficial ideas and perspectives.
Provides a Social Networking Platform
Creating a social work environment is important because it creates stronger relationships between employees, leading to greater job satisfaction and productivity. Most intranet solutions utilize popular social media functionalities that allow staff to display their personalities on their intranet pages. Employees and management can share personal interests, hobbies and other aspects of their personal lives, providing a more personally interactive platform. Relationships forged through an intranet's social networking capabilities can positively impact staff job performance and collaboration. (For different corporate use of social networking, see CRM Meets Social Media.)
Simplifies Decision Making
Access to vital information is crucial to effective decision making. An intranet allows staff to share information and ideas.
Streamlines Data Management
Managing documents is key to any organization. With an intranet, you can easily upload and organize documents that can be accessed at any time. Employees can securely collaborate on projects and data. Document and information availability gives a company a transparent culture, which empowers staff.
Potential for Security Risks
Because you are providing open access to sensitive data, it is important to establish an effective security system via a gateway or firewall. Without appropriate security measures, your private data may be accessed by an unauthorized party – putting your company at risk.
Can Be Time Consuming and Costly
Despite the advantages of setting up an intranet, it can be a costly procedure, as dedicated teams must be assigned tasks to set up and configure the intranet for an organization. Additionally, an intranet is only effective when staff members fully understand how it should be used. It is equally important to ensure that staff know all the available intranet functionalities. This means resources must be used to train staff so they can adapt and continue performing their job duties. Without effective training, an intranet implementation can turn into a nightmare because it can impede staff's ability to perform their jobs – ultimately causing losses to the company.
Routine maintenance is a must to keep an intranet organized and functional. Posting regular content also is an important aspect of maintaining an intranet, as it ensures employees check their intranet regularly for new information. This can be a time-consuming process and requires dedication from the management team.
Can Be Counterproductive
An intranet can be an abundant and easily accessible resource for information. However, uploading excessive information in an unorganized manner can be counterproductive and create confusion between employees. Additionally, if information is not organized and cannot be easily navigated, productivity will be negatively impacted.
An effective intranet solution can have a profound impact on organizational productivity, collaboration and data management. Employees have the ability to interact and share information with ease, facilitating effective collaboration on projects – paving the way for increased productivity. With available desktop resources and tools, each employee can easily access everything they need to perform their job. All of these positive benefits stem from dedicating time and resources to setting up an effective intranet.