Why Do Small Businesses Need Intranets?
In 2019, the U.S Small Business Administration reported that the U.S hosted around 30.7 million small businesses. Since then, the number of small businesses worldwide has steadily risen as more people seek financial independence, want to be their own bosses, and follow their passions.
Unfortunately, few businesses seem to have enough time in an 8-5 workday to handle all their tasks. Second, thanks to globalization, some of your clients will need remote access to your services outside typical office working hours. Furthermore, more and more employees are now working remotely. These might seem like insurmountable challenges in most instances. Thankfully, they have a solution; the internet. This is a worldwide web to which millions of people have access.
The internet is the most popular computer network. However, there are other networks that can benefit your business, including the intranet and extranet. The intranet is a restricted network controlled by, and often meant for, a single company. It allows employees to work from anywhere and connects thousands of people to one network. Intranets have a separate infrastructure from the internet. Though they sometimes have internet access, some do not because of the need for enhanced security and privacy.
On the other hand, an extranet is a restricted computer network comprising at least two intranets. You can partially seal off your intranet from the extranet you are a part of so that you have private access areas away from the other companies on your extranet. Extranets often run as virtual private networks on the internet. While they have a strategic advantage for businesses, extranets make them susceptible to cyberattacks.
Most business owners invest in intranet platforms like Microsoft SharePoint as shown in this graphic.
Some are reluctant to invest because they see no benefits of the same for their companies. They assume intranets are only beneficial for multinationals with many clients, employees, and locations. Even so, your small business also needs an intranet.
Below are compelling reasons why you need an intranet and some important details that will prove beneficial when investing in it.
Reasons Why Your Small Business and Team Needs an Intranet
The following are a few reasons why you should consider investing in an intranet:
It helps acquaint new hires to your business and company culture
Growing your company will need hiring the right employees. An intranet is the repository of all the important documents a new hire should fill. It will also answer all the questions new hires have to help them quickly get acquainted with your strong company culture. This saves the high expenses spent on familiarizing new employees with your business tools, processes, and terminology. Here is an example of what you can expect on the homepage of your intranet platform for new employees.
Improves internal communication
Like in all companies, it is essential for employees to communicate so that work can get done. The intranet is a powerful tool in which your teams can participate in discussion forums and collaborate to share their ideas, progress reports, and suggestions easily. You can also transmit announcements and company news on this platform to keep workers abreast with the things happening in your company while fostering unity. Some intranet platforms like the Breakthrough operating system even allow you to host boards and workshops on the platform.
Helps to align workers to your objectives
According to a 2019 study, poor labor quality is among the biggest issues facing small businesses. Most businesses fail to align their employees to their business outcome goals. As such, new employees, even those that are exceptionally talented, fail. The intranet might pave the way for the coordination of your team activities with individual and common goals. In so doing, you can align employees to your objectives.
Captures and retains knowledge
With the intranet, you can forget about missing paperwork, lost messages, and lengthy emails. The cloud-based solution to these issues come with a file sharing and document management system to ease the location update, or access of important documents. This system eases information sharing among employees or with external players and will hold unlimited cloud storage for your files or folders. Moreover, you need not worry about missing files when an employee exits your company.
Boosts productivity and efficient project management
The goal of all small businesses is to be highly productive. However, if your employees are over-reliant on email or paper-based processes and systems, this might lower their productivity. The intranet has task management features that automate your company’s repetitive tasks like vacation requests, calendar management, timesheet submissions, approval forms, purchase orders and administrative duties. This will not only streamline some of your company’s processes, but will also enhance your workers’ productivity.
Types of Business Intranet
With a guarantee of the immense benefits that an intranet means for your business, it is time to consider your investment options. The following is information on two intranet options to consider:
1. On-premise intranet
This involves downloading business software like SharePoint or a CMS like Drupal, then developing your intranet, which will be hosted on the company server. You might come across graphics that make it seem easy to manage on-premise intranet. Nonetheless, it involves extensive technical knowledge and some solutions need plug-ins or add-ons to achieve your envisioned functionality. In reality, it is a process that takes months to finish and needs considerable resources.
2. Cloud-based/SaaS intranet
This is perfect for those who do not want the hassle associated with an on-premise intranet and are looking for an immediate solution. Cloud-based intranet needs on-site infrastructure or staff with technical knowledge, making it perfect for your small business that might not have full IT staff. Moreover, it is affordable, user-friendly, and fully customizable. The following are just a few of the features you should consider for a cloud-based intranet:
- Security: You can expect to lose about $8.64 million if your business’ data is breached. Therefore, it is best to ensure that your company intranet does not compromise the security of your data. A cloud intranet platform often has data encryption, SSL technology, and firewalls that protect your data.
- Customized access: You should be as vigilant of internal threats as external ones. Choose a solution that allows the setting of permission rights according to departments, employee directory, teams, or job roles. This limits access to some files and pages that not all staff should see.
- Search functionality: Your intranet portal solution should have easy site navigation and search functionality so that employees can easily retrieve documents.
- Social intranet features: Social intranet platforms are becoming increasingly popular because they improve employee engagement. Some of the common social network features include photo sharing, social notifications, message boards, and user activity walls.
Start Your Intranet Project with Breakthrough
Having gone through the above step by step guidelines, you are now hopefully better educated on the intranet and its positive impact on your company and in the digital workplace. The next step is incorporating it into your company. According to a study in the HBR, collaboration, honesty, agility, and innovation are the leading attributes for enhanced business performance and rapid growth. These are what you will need to ease the transition of your business to an intranet-based environment. With these in place, consider your budget vis-à-vis the software costs from vendors, and the ROI before taking the solution for a test ride to ensure it meets your needs.
Now that you are well-versed in what an intranet for small businesses entails, it is time to partner with the best platform for your solution. Breakthrough is your best choice with its effective solutions and smart strategies backed with concrete data to help your business soar. The solutions from this company will help align your teams, improve your marketing traction, and maximize your profits and growth.
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