|Now that you have
gathered all the information on your competitors and industry, what is the
best way to deliver information within your organization? Hard copies of
reports and Web clippings are easily lost among other reports, and e-mails
with attachments often get forgotten when there is no rush to read them. Is
there a practical solution to overcome these communication pitfalls?
companies are rapidly adopting the use of intranets to ensure that
information is accessible to analysts and decision makers whenever they need
it. These companies are utilizing various solutions to gain a significant
competitive advantage regarding sharing data amongst employees. Can small
companies obtain the same competitive advantage by implementing an intranet?
This article will assist in evaluating the need for an intranet in a small
business environment based on the following decision factors.
the factors listed above, you should have a good foundation for deciding
whether or not an intranet is needed in your company. In addition, this
article will suggest some of the best intranet tools to implement given any
kind of restrictions on the company's resources.
All the planning in the world for an
intranet can be tossed in the trash bin if top management does not see a
need for the solution. Top management has to see the key benefits of
investing in an intranet. The majority of the time, individuals who propose
the idea to management are often met with these questions around conference
- How much is this going to cost us?
- How will it improve
- Who will manage this thing?
Here are suggested answers to
the questions that will hopefully lower management's resistance to change?
- How much is this going to cost us? - An investment in an intranet
solution will depend on the number of users and the functionalities we need
to get the job done correctly. Since we are a small group of _____ team
members and we need the basics, the product we have in mind should cost
$______ without add-ons.
- How will it improve productivity? - An intranet
will enable us to store, share, and disseminate information throughout the
company. This will eliminate the need to search for information repeatedly, and
will enable us to gain quick access to real-time industry
news, and provide us with the ability to work in teams on the same
- Who will manage this thing? - We have arranged for training
courses to manage the intranet in house. We assume the responsibility for
this tool if we can rely on your support.
Duration of use
Before rushing out to purchase the ideal solution for
your company, consider how long team members will be using the application.
Many firms venture out and buy solutions with all the bells and whistles and
use it for a couple weeks because it is a new toy in the office. Once the
novelty of the solution wares off, it gets forgotten and hardly used for the
How do you avoid this situation?
The best thing to do is
to sit down with all the potential users of the intranet and draft a
mini-game plan for the solution. It is best to plan out the use of the
applicant for the short term (less than one year) vs. the long term (more
than one year). This plan should guide you in making a decision of whether
or not a full-fledged intranet is needed. If your plan tells you that your
company needs a solution for a given project that will last six months,
consider buying an "intranet-in-a-box" application with a limited
amount of IT support. Tasks involving sharing and storing a great amount of
data over a number of years will lead you to purchasing a modest and
Number of users
Investing in an application that will be used by a
maximum of two members does not make sense. Implementing an intranet for
more than four individuals is ideal. These individuals can use the
application to read, or post documents, collaborate on projects, and gain
access to valuable resources on the Web found in the past. In addition,
consider that the number of users might swell over the months given the
number of projects that the company might take on. With this in mind, an
intranet might not be a viable option at the present time; however, a steady
growth of business might call for an application that can aid in the
delivery of information to individuals making vital decisions.
Amount of data
The amount of data should be the key factor in the
decision-making process of building an intranet. Data is valuable to the
company if it organized and stored in a logical manner. You may be tempted
to think that since your company has tons of reports filed away, an intranet
can be the place to store these reports until they are needed. This is 50%
true. Storing information on your intranet that will be no longer valuable
to the company should not be done. Outdated and irrelevant information will
lead to individuals using the wrong data in strategic planning decisions and
will bog down the system when it comes to performing searches.
be on your intranet and how much? Given your budget, you will be restricted
on the amount of storage space on the intranet. Here are a couple of
essentials that should be on your company's intranet: ·
- Daily and archived industry news & reports
- Relevant links
on the Web
- Memos from management These essential pieces of information
should be updated and archived on an ongoing basis to prevent information
Now that you see a need for an intranet within your
company, which features do you need to deliver information to people
whenever they need it. Here are some functionalities of some of intranets
that are built for small businesses:
- Archiving functions
- Address books
- Calendar functions
- Group document databases
If you foresee that these
features will not be beneficial to you, refrain from purchasing any type of
applications that is bundled with them. Vendors will attempt to package
features that are not needed by potential customers just to increase the
price. The best way to combat this is to create a list of features that you
would like to be part of your intranet and then visit vendors to obtain the
best package at the right price.
An investment in an intranet is not a one-time expenditure. The
initial expenditure for the installation and ensuring that it is functioning
as it is designed to will take a signification portion out of your budget.
If you do not have the expertise to build and/or install a solution, you
will have to set aside funding for an IT technician who specializes in
building intranets for competitive intelligence purposes. In addition, you
will need to allocate some money for features, (as mentioned above) and
general maintenance of the solution.
Will you have the technical expertise in-house to deal with
any problems that may occur? This is another factor to contemplate as the
idea of establishing an intranet is proposed. The inability to instantly
remedy any glitches that may arise on a day-to-day basis might leave the
company paralyzed and erect barriers to vital information. Access to outside
IT support can be costly.
The following list contains a few products that are now
available for small business intranet needs. ·
- Cyber Office
- Planet Intranet
Intranet solutions are not for big corporations any more.
Intranets can give small businesses the power to store, share, and
disseminate information within their companies to gain a competitive
advantage when it comes to business intelligence. It is the responsibility
of the individuals who will use the application to evaluate the company's
needs, wants, and the environment to see if the presence of an application
will be a perfect fit.
Note: To help guide you through the decision making
process behind establishing an intranet in your company, please make use of
the following template, "Managing Marketing and Strategic Information
with Intranet… some templates to understand needs"
Want to Know More? The following books are available at Amazon.com: (We
are a registered Amazon associate, and the reference fee we receive is
reinvested in Competia to help make it a better product).
following articles are available in the Competia Online Magazine archives.
- Intranet To Manage Business Intelligence
- The Five-Step Process To
- How Shell Uses Intranet To Share Technical Information
- Tools For The Non-Technical specialist
- Intranet-in-a-Box: Does It
Really Exist? How To Choose? The following presentations are available in
the Competia Presentation Library. Request them by e-mail!!! · Intranet
Business Strategies by Mellanie Hills
- 30 Tips To Promote Your Intranet by
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