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The top 10 Intranet Applications

The following is a list based on my experiences of the “must have” intranet applications. You can, of course, replace some of them with lighter functionalities – and keep on sending email in the old way or keep documents on individual workstations – but I highly recommend switching to either cloud services or your own intranet system. The benefit in this lies in making it easier to find and share information. In addition, you’ll save time, letting you do your job more efficiently.

1. Desktop

The desktop (cf. the home page of your website) compiles all the important information, and preferably, only the information important to you, in a single view. In addition to company-wide news, various windows or portlets display the news of your team and any new work added to your work queue. You can handily search for documents, or see which employees are on the road today, without opening other people’s calendars separately in Outlook.

2. The Topical and the News

Admittedly, this is already pretty much passé, but still one of the best aspects of the intranet. This replaces any mass emails sent to your entire organisation, and the news is published only on the intranet. The news can be of different levels and target different user groups. If a piece of news or bulletin is important right now, it can displayed on the desktop more visibly, after the style of a PostIt note. Once the news is no longer very topical, the news transfers to the archives automatically. When necessary, the news is imported to the intranet through RSS feeds. Nor is it impossible for an external system, such as ERP or CRM, to trigger a news story to be displayed to you.

3. Calendars Come in all Shapes and Sizes

A calendar view (month, week, day) is a handy way to display what is coming and what already happened in a visual format. The marketing team enters the marketing calendar in the intranet so that the rest of the personnel knows when that Google AdWords campaign kicks off or when we’ll be sending our customers a newsletter on our new product, so that when customers call us about it, we’re already “on the map”. The firm’s events, official and unofficial alike, can also be displayed. If your production process is time-bound and your ERP does not yet provide you with enough support for planning, calendars can also be harnessed to assist production work.

4. Texts, Images and Other Content

It would be a good idea to enter all content on the intranet with the help of a content management system (CMS) of some sort. A good CMS supports user roles, the publishing process and various kinds of rich content, such as the embedding of videos, etc. Naturally, you can also put content on the intranet in the form of documents, but to be honest, a lot of bulletins are cosier to read directly from a browser screen than from a PDF – especially on mobile devices.

5. Documents

Various large-scale contents are put on the intranet as documents. If the volume of documents is high, they should be classified and grouped under folders to facilitate their location. A search function must also be available. The documents may require different access rights, given that, say, the management team may not always feel a fervent desire to share all documents with the entire organisation.

6. Search Functions

A search function can, by default, execute searches in the contents of pages, news, events and the contents of other applications, accounting for access right restrictions. It would be useful to extend the search function to the content of documents as well. A search covering the most common Office documents and PDFs would be desirable, at the very least, but sometimes you have to make do with a search that covers only the file names and any possible meta data and tags of documents.

7. Quick links and Web Shortcuts

An intranet often also doubles as a desktop, due to which it should include links to the most frequently used other internal and external applications. These are added on the intranet as links and, if possible, everyone can make a personal list of the links. This could, of course, be taken care of with browser favourites, but those lists tend to gather all kinds of other links in addition to the work-related ones.

8. Absences

What often proves useful is a bulletin or calendar of some kind, providing information on who is at the office today and who is elsewhere – such as at a seminar in another city – or, other words, not present, but available, apart from evening and early mornings. This can be implemented with an absence application and, when taken a step further, the application can also be used lightly as help for HR when counting paid workdays and holidays.

9. User Administration

An intranet is often the responsibility of an organisation’s IT staff regardless of whether that consists of a department full of tech wizzes or a lone IT specialist working from home. When the user administration application is easy to use and integrated into Active Directory, for example, in terms of both login and access rights, the workload of the IT staff reduces considerably.

10. Jumble Sale

This is an absolute must…just kidding. You can, of course, have a jumble sale section on your intranet, but according to my experience, it will lose its appeal fairly quickly.

So, this is the top 10 list I’ve come up with during the course of my career. These applications can then be complemented with customer-specific applications which take paperwork and Excel sheets to a wholly new level and generate direct flexibility, efficiency, cost savings, etc. The social intranet is also a very topical phenomenon, but at least in our office, it has yet to make an appearance on the top 10 list. Do get in touch and ask for further information, if your organisation is thinking about enhancing its operations or digitalisation. You can also take a look at some examples of the intranet solutions we can offer you.

Jyrki Sundström

Jyrki Sundström

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