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In part one of this series of articles discussing Intranets, we explained what an Intranet is. This article will cover advantages of Intranets in business. The following is a list of some of the biggest benefits of the Intranet when used in a business environment.
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The Three C's
The biggest reasons for implementing an Intranet are collaboration, communication and organization.
- Collaboration – Intranets allow users to interact with each other across departmental borders. Need help writing a multi-departmental procedure? Use document management features of most Intranets to host the document, keep track of revisions and even apply a document workflow to seek approvals and feedback for your document.
- Communication – Intranets allow for easier communication. Some Intranet portals allow you to host a single portal yet customize the data each employee sees based on which departmental groups they are members of.
- Organization – Intranets make it easier to find things – first by bringing organization. Most Intranets have a centralized search function so even if a document or tool is posted to a different department’s page, you should be able to find it.
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- Cost – Intranets can be set up with a very limited budget. Since most small Intranets are a single website or portal, the software you use can be run on a PC or low-end workstation. Also, many software packages are available for free or low cost. Check into Liferay Portal or Metadot for some full-featured, low to no cost options. If you like Microsoft products and already have a Windows 2003 or 2008 server, you can easily install SharePoint Services for a slimmed down version of the popular SharePoint Server 2007.
- Management – managing Intranets used to be a pretty painful experience requiring full time web administrators to manage the web components. With today’s Intranet software, most vendors offer an easy to use graphical user interface to perform most every-day functions.
- Flexibility – Intranets let you decide what information is important for your business and how you want that information displayed. Should each department have a portal, or do you want a single centralized portal that houses everyone’s information? How should that information be displayed to maximize efficiency? It’s all up to you and with most portal products you really can design the layout of your Intranet just the way you want.
- Support business processes – some portal software includes the ability to build automated workflows that will shuffle documents around for review or approval based on your business process.
- Web Based – with Intranets being primarily web based, you don’t need to worry about setting up software for each user. As long as they have network access and a browser, you should be good to go. Another nice thing about portals being web based is that if you are missing a component or tool, you can typically build one yourself. Need a special view of your yearly sales goals set up? Develop a web application to do just that.
These are just a few of the benefits of Intranets to businesses. Read article three in this series to learn about some of the disadvantages of Intranets.
Understanding Intranet – Advantages of 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.