Category: Information Management

Designing and Organizing a Corporate Intranet

Before I start, "Corporate Intranet" in this article refers to the internal (corporate) website (that is usually named "the intranet" in a firm). In a more general (and correct) sense the term intranet refers to "a private computer network that uses Internet protocols, network connectivity to securely share part of an organization's information or operations with its employees". Sometimes other terms are used to describe something similar to an intranet, for example: "enterprise portal" or "intraweb".

A corporate intranet is always a 'custom' built website/application. No matter what framework, portal server or intranet engine you have running, you will always have to customize the intranet to meet your company's needs. The first step in building/shaping your intranet: identify the needs/goals. What is the purpose of the intranet? What would you like it to do? What problems are you trying to solve with it? These are all common questions that are relevant to any project, yet they are more than often left unanswered.

"Corporate intranets facilitate communication and access to information" according to an old (but still relevant) (student) source on corporate (library) intranets. Intranets should be central to a firms' information management: sharing, creating and processing information can all be done on the intranet. Because of this central role of the intranet - the application should be able to "talk" to the other application within a firm. An intranet application can therefore soon get extremely complex. That complexity usually already starts with the wishes and goals of a firm. My advise: try to keep it simple in the beginning and build on from there.

Intranet Wish-list

To find all the items on your intranet wish-list, you can ask yourself the question: "what tasks will a (typical) employee hope to accomplish with the use of the intranet?".
Possible answers:

  • Look up the phone number of the Marketing Manager
  • Request to take some time off
  • Read the latest company news
  • Register for the company's yearly Social Event
  • Read the company's health insurance benefits
  • Enroll in a training
  • Match the name of a new colleague with a picture
  • Find Knowhow on a certain subject

From that list we can already deduct a couple of intranet functions:

  • Employee Directory with Pictures
  • Human Resources Services (form processing)
  • Company News
  • (Event/Training) Registration (form processing)
  • Company Information (HR, Policies)
  • Knowledge sharing

And with some more thinking we could add a few more things to that:

  • Questionnaires
  • Document Management
  • Company Calendar
  • Social functions (employee profiles)
  • Company Pictures (for example event pictures)
  • Financial and Marketing information (for management)

We should however be careful here to not let this list grow endlessly. As I said earlier: try and start simple in the beginning. The most basic way of starting with your corporate intranet is to only offer information on it (like a regular website). Minimally your intranet should have company news and Human Resources information - those are usually the most requested information on an intranet. In a future article I will discuss organizing your intranet further and look what is sometimes called: Intranet 2.0 (after the web 2.0 trend)

See also: Adaptive Path: Organizing Your Global Corporate Intranet

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Bram Braakman • 15 June 2008
Archived under: Information Management, Intranet • (0) CommentsPermalink
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