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Understanding Intranet - What is an Intranet?

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/25/2010

If you don’t have an Intranet at work but are interested in learning more about Intranets including what an Intranet is? Read this article to find out!

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    What is an Intranet?

    One definition of the Intranet is a series of resources shared amongst an organization to aid in increasing productivity and collaboration. The defining point here is that the resources are shared amongst a single organization.

    Think of an Intranet as the Internet for your business – the information, tools and resources are all tailored to your business.

    Intranets are characterized by some of the following traits:

    • Web based – the main component of an Intranet is typically a web page, site or portal depending on the complexity of the Intranet. The web based component typically acts as a central gathering area for the hosted resources.
    • Focused on the Organization – while some large departments may have their own Intranet, typically for small and medium sized businesses, the intranet is built and used as a corporate tool.
    • Focused on Collaboration – one of the main goals of setting up an Intranet is to aid in increased collaboration. Intranets give easier access to internal resources such as documents and tools, and allow collaboration across departmental lines.
    • Focused on Communication – communication is another large component of Intranets – most Intranets have a corporate announcements section to give employees insight into the business or to simply act as an internal bulletin board – posting information about corporate events and holidays.

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    What is the Purpose of an Intranet?

    As mentioned above, Intranets are built to support and encourage organization, collaboration and corporate communication, but what are some real-world examples of some of these traits?

    • Organization – Intranets can act as one stop shops for hosting otherwise hard to find documents. For example, HR may post commonly used documents such as W-4 and Benefits information on the Intranet, making it easier for employees to find this information. You can also use the search feature most Intranets have, in order to find documents within your organization.
    • Collaboration – when a team of employees need to work on a single document, it may be difficult to keep track of changes and to determine who is currently working on a document. Some Intranet software packages allow you to track document histories and even go so far as to allow you to check-out and check-in documents to multiple users, to make sure users don’t step on each other’s toes.
    • Communication – without an Intranet, communicating organization-wide messages may be difficult or time consuming. Using an Intranet to post an announcement or blog post about the company or upcoming holiday is easy and with a central place to get this information, users will become accustomed to use the Intranet to check up on these types of communications.

    In part 2 of this series, I will describe some of the advantages of setting up an Intranet.

    Keep reading to find out more!

Understanding Intranets

This series covers in detail what an intranet is, both the advantages and limitations of intranets, example of intranet designs and how to plan for implementing an intranet.
  1. Understanding Intranet - What is an Intranet?
  2. Understanding Intranet – Advantages of Intranets
  3. Understanding Intranet - Disadvantages of Intranets
  4. Understanding Intranet - Example Designs
  5. Understanding Intranet - Simple Setup Checklist