Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook

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1 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook A growing business needs a good social intranet software platform. It helps you communicate and collaborate in one place. Read this ebook to get practical advice on buying a social intranet.

2 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook Introduction Whether you re in the same office as your employees or colleagues or you are working remotely, a well-designed social intranet can help to take practically every aspect of your workday to a new level. Your intranet is one of your organization s important assets and investments. It will lay the foundation on how communication, innovation, collaboration, information sharing, and growth takes place from within. Let s take a look at how you can ensure that you make the right decision when implementing a new social intranet for your company. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 2

3 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook What Are Your Intranet Objectives? Today s businesses require more effective solutions that would often be impossible to achieve without the help of modern technology. A social intranet can be used for purposes such sharing files, tracking company issues, and communicating with employees, customers, and vendors. When an organization deploys an intranet, it s usually to help improve project management, collaboration, and knowledge organization. Features for content creation, such as blogs, articles and Wikis, and productivity apps like task management and group discussions can all be utilized to help make your intranet objectives a reality. Finding the best fit for your organization is essential to your success, because your intranet is one of your organization s most important assets and investments. The more knowledgeable you are about what you re looking to gain from implementing a social intranet, the better off you ll be. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 3

4 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook Why Does Your Company Need an Intranet? There s no getting around the fact that businesses of all kinds can benefit from having a social intranet in place, but this doesn t lessen the importance of determining why your company is in need of one. Modern social intranet software combines a number of powerful tools into a single suite that can help to push your organization forward in a number of ways. Increased Collaboration Among Employees Adopting a social intranet can have a hugely positive impact on the ways in which your employees collaborate with one another. Employee collaboration fosters better ideas and faster solutions, yet requires the right platform in order for the best possible results to be achieved. A social intranet is often the answer modern businesses are looking for when it comes to improving collaboration, especially those which employ remote workers on a regular basis. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 4

5 Improved Vehicle for Communication is one of the most commonly used vehicles for communication in the modern business landscape, although it s important to note that this is shifting. Social intranet software can be used to streamline communication in a variety of ways, including better organization, more flexibility for group discussions, and an improved search function for when you need to go back and review your conversations. When functioning properly, your social intranet can all but fully replace the need to use for communication purposes your inbox turns into more of a notification center than anything else. Streamlined Content Creation Content creation is becoming more and more important as time goes on, especially given the prevalence of content marketing on the web today. Social intranet software can facilitate easy and streamlined content creation, allowing you and your employees to create wiki pages and blog posts with just a few clicks. It s the perfect option for those who place a great deal of importance on staying consistent and relevant, which is becoming a requisite trait for organizations of all kinds. These tools give you online capabilities, often replacing Word documents and the need for other desktop based word processors. Better File Sharing Capabilities As paper documents continue to fade into the past, the need for a well-built file sharing system cannot be stressed enough. Yet, many of today s businesses try to get away with using free cloud-based applications that not only offer Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 5

6 poor functionality, but less space than is ideal. Social intranet software holds file sharing in high regard, creating a platform that allows employees to move documents in and out of the intranet without having to jump through a number of hurdles. Efficient Team Management Managing a team of employees can be easier said than done, especially when they re located in different parts of the country or internationally. The right collaboration software can make team management simple and efficient, especially when talented managers take the helm. When a team works on a project or task within the confines of a social intranet, the chances that problems will pop up are drastically reduced. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 6

7 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook What Are Your Business Requirements? No two businesses are the same, regardless of similarities. Bearing this in mind, it s important to realize that your business requirements will be different from those of another organization, and you need to choose a social intranet platform that will meet them. Identifying these early on in the process is essential. Let s take a look at some of the most common and high-level requirements. User Experience and Branding The look and feel of your Intranet can have a bigger impact on its functionality than you might think. If you ve already put a lot of work into your company s branding, your intranet should reflect this in as many ways as possible. This is just one more reason to avoid one size fits all intranet options, as flexibility is required in order to tweak your intranet so that it ends up being properly in-line with the branding of your organization. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 7

8 Integration of Current Business Processes If you re running a successful business, it s quite likely that you have a number of business processes currently in place and are a bit hesitant to switch things up. If you re careful about the platform you choose for your social intranet, you should have no problems integrating your current business processes, ensuring that everything can be done through the same platform. This can save you a vast amount of time and money in the short and long terms. The Ability to Communicate Externally Your social intranet will most likely be utilized primarily by you, your employees, and your colleagues. In many cases, you may want to utilize it for outside communication too. This can range from working with a vendor on a supply order to handling a question or complaint from a customer, depending upon the platform you choose and the individual needs of your business. Either way, the ability to communicate externally can hold more weight than many people realize. Private and Public Work Spaces The best way to view your social intranet is as if it is a living, breathing community, like the community in which you actually live. As your business is likely partitioned into different departments, you need to be able to create private work spaces within the community. Each department can have its very own work space in your intranet, allowing for easier organization and better flow of communication. Public spaces are essential if you have the need to provide self-help options to your customers. These can also be used to connect your customers and have them help each other. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 8

9 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook What Features Do You Need? The beauty of having a social intranet for your business is that there are countless different features to choose from. Depending upon the platform you end up choosing to go with, some may or may not be available. Since the features in your social intranet can make or break its functionality, you need to have a good idea as to which are essential and which are supplemental. Fortunately, there are a few features commonly associated with social intranet software that you can start off with, each of which can vastly improve the way your business operates internally. To start out, begin asking yourself these questions: Who is the user of the intranet? What do they want? Why do they want it? The whos and the whys form the context of your requirements. These not only help you drill down to specifics, but they also allow vendors to recommend solutions that may accomplish your goals. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 9

10 Messaging & Communication Tools While just about every social intranet software platform out there will feature a messaging and communication system, some are far more robust and better organized than others. Communication is what you and your employees will be spending a great deal of your time focusing on when using your social intranet. The communication system in the platform that you re evaluating should be one that resonates with you and your team. If you choose an option that features a less-than-adequate communication model, you re bound to be disappointed once you start using your intranet. Issue Tracking & Case Management No matter how you cut it, your social intranet is used for getting things done and solving difficult problems, therefore an issue tracker and case management system is essential. Well-designed social intranet software allows you to create cases to track issues, questions, support requests, etc. It allows for a discussion that revolves around a specific problem in need of a solution. You can choose to loop people into a case when they have the expertise or knowledge to create a solution. So, rather than having a single person attempt to answer a question, you have the ability to crowdsource your entire company to help. Having the ability to change the status of a case and update it with new information as it comes to light ensures that you ll never lose track of what you re working on and problems get solved faster than ever. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 10

11 Group & Personal Calendars Staying on top of meetings and events is often more of a hassle than most people would prefer, especially when you re using a number of different applications to do so. No social intranet is complete without group and personal calendars, which can be used to send reminders to specific individuals and ensure that everyone is on the same page about what is scheduled and when. When organization takes precedence, scheduling becomes a breeze. Activity Streams If you ve ever browsed a popular social media network, chances are you re familiar with the concept of the news feed. Activity streams can be viewed as news feeds for your daily business operations, detailing projects and cases that have been opened or closed, meetings or events that have been scheduled, new questions that people have posted, new content that people have created, and more. Living right on the homepage of your intranet, or really on any page you d like, your activity stream can quickly become a navigational signpost that will make participating in your intranet easier than ever. It keeps you updated about new stuff from the people and groups you are connected to. Document Management & File Sharing When you work with others remotely, you can t just simply hand off a document the way you might be able to if you were located in the same office. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 11

12 Proper document storage and sharing is an important feature that should serve as a major part of your social intranet, and the method in which files are stored should be as easy to understand as possible. Ideation & Innovation Management In order for your social intranet to reach peak performance, it s essential that users are able to contribute and discuss new ideas freely. The whole concept of socia intranet software is to foster collaboration to create solutions that push organizations in a forward direction. Intranet software should not only make the sharing of ideas as easy as possible for its users, but encourage it. Information Discovery Information discovery is a key part of daily business processes, which means your organization will be wasting precious time if your social intranet software doesn t come along with a powerful search and categorization (tagging) system. It takes effort on everyone s part to ensure that content in your intranet is properly tagged, but it also takes a well-designed internal search engine to find it. Information discovery should be as simple as possible. Simple Administration You can t rely on your IT department to handle every aspect of administration with your intranet. This is simply too much to ask, and it will take them away from other important tasks and projects they may be focusing on. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 12

13 Great social intranet software allows for simple administration that can be handled by employees and those in managerial positions in your organization, empowering users to make smart decisions and contribute to the health of the intranet as a whole. Employee Directory & Personal Profiles It s important for your social intranet to include an employee directory, making it easy to find people with the right expertise and knowledge to get the job done. Employees should be given the opportunity to set up profiles similar to what might be found on a service such as LinkedIn, listing their work experience, a short bio, content they ve created within the intranet, discussions they ve taken part in, and more. This not only helps employees to get to know one another on a more personal level, but makes it easy for management to get answers to questions about an employee s activities in the virtual workspace. Mobile Functionality These days, many people do just as much work on their smart phones and tablets as they do on their laptops. The ability to access an organization s intranet from a mobile device is essential to any intranet. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 13

14 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook Are You Evaluating Intranet Software? For businesses that don t already have an intranet in place, there are a great deal of potential routes to take. Buying a new intranet can be an exciting experience, especially if you ve done your research and know what to look for in a platform. You ll want to take a number of factors into consideration, because not all social intranet software functions at the same level, and some platforms will no doubt be a better fit for your business than others. Flexible vs. One Size Fits All There are a variety of different social intranet software options out there that promise an easy, streamlined, and hands-off experience that practically any user can setup and manage. These are often considered one size fits all intranet platforms, as they follow templates and the same integration process regardless of what your business s needs may be. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 14

15 Flexibility is of the utmost importance. A flexible intranet platform will ensure that you re not stuck on the rails and increase the chances that both you and your employees will have a positive experience each day. Having intranet software that is customizable to fit how your business works means that it can grow with your company. You Need Good Customer Support Whenever you make any major changes to your daily routine (including implementing a social intranet), you re going to want to ensure that you have the best possible customer support at your fingertips should you run into any problems. You want to have an intranet vendor that has a strong reputation for providing clients with top-notch customer support, and don t hesitate to make this a big factor in the decision you end up making. What s Your Budget? One of the most common mistakes made among those who are in the market for a new social intranet is not taking their budget into consideration. Deploying an intranet can be a costly venture, especially if you re not careful during the planning process. Mind your budget, and you shouldn t run into any surprise obstacles or setbacks. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 15

16 Introducing Communifire As the modern business landscape continues to shift and become more techcentric, social intranets will only gain in importance and eventually become requisite for any business looking to stay current. Shopping for the right social intranet platform can be a time-consuming process, especially given the amount of research you should do before pulling the trigger. Know exactly what you re looking for, and don t hesitate to step back and think before you come to a decision about which platform to go with. Communifire is one of the most robust and flexible social intranet platforms on the market. It is excellent for improving productivity and collaboration within your business. Getting started with Communifire is quick and easy. See Communifire in Action We ll help you evaluate Communifire for your business, no sales pitch. Start a Free Trial Schedule a Demo Need more information? Call us at and talk to a knowledgeable Communifire specialist. Or... Check out our other informative ebooks on the next page. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 16

17 Your Complete Social Intranet Buyer s Guide & Handbook Internal Communications: Master the Game The Why s and How s of Improving Internal Communications within Your Business ove Employee Engagement with Social Intranet Software Download Now Intranet Solutions: Drive Employee Engagement How to Improve Employee Engagement with Social Intranet Software Download Now Axero s enterprise collaboration software, Communifire, helps companies collaborate, communicate, and and increase employee productivity and engagement. It powers social intranets, customer communities, and knowledge management for businesses of all sizes. Copyright 2014 Axero. All rights reserved. 17

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