When building a business case around a social Intranet, there are a few key components to consider. Here are five suggested features that you might ask your potential vendors to demonstrate.
By using a forum or threaded discussion tool, you can engage your employees around specific topics and challenge them to start talking about topics that matter to them. For instance, Project Managers might discuss the project they are working on along with the status of that project, IT employees may share valuable technology updates, and HR personnel may share links to recruiting best practices. Be sure that the tool allows employees to create a profile and specify the topics they are interested in. This also provides a way for employees to get to know their colleagues and share information.
Social Tagging and Ranking
Although search engines are getting smarter by the minute, nothing replaces the ability for an employee to indicate whether an article or piece of content was useful to them in their job. Especially if the search engine takes that ranking into account in ordering their search results (e.g. articles they ranked higher, should be placed higher in the results). In addition, if employees are able to add their own keywords that helps influence search results, they will be able to find information that is more meaningful to them much more quickly.
Document Storage & Collaboration
With a document storage and collaboration tool, employees can find and share documents easily. This tool will allow employees to create, open and edit documents by placing them in a centralized location that’s easy to access. Having this tool will allow multiple users to work and collaborate in real-time, based on the permissions that are set by the owner, on a document simultaneously. A document collaboration tool can also help you cut down on storage costs. Employees will no longer need to email a status report, PowerPoint deck, or Excel spreadsheet to the entire project team (these multiple copies take up storage on the email server). Instead, they can simply email a link to the single copy stored on the Intranet and use check in/check out functionality to edit that single document.
Employees consistently rank the company directory as one of the most used functions of their Intranet. An expertise finder takes that directory one step further and allows users to identify employees that hold specific knowledge or expertise. This is paired with the ability for employees to create their social profiles and self-report their skills. Similar to tagging content, employees should also be able to tag other employees with terms that they could use in the future to find that expert again (e.g. tagging someone as “Intranet administrator”)
Knowledge Base or Wiki
Your employees have a great wealth of knowledge and given the opportunity many of them want to share it. Be sure to ask your potential Intranet vendors whether they offer a knowledge base or wiki functionality that would allow your employees to quickly, easily share nuggets of knowledge that may assist other employees. Keep in mind that it must be easy to use and be integrated with the search functionality so employees can use a single search to locate people or content.
These five key components are just a few of the items to consider when reviewing potential software solutions for a social Intranet. Be sure to ask each of your vendors to demonstrate the functionality and consider inviting a few of your end users or members of your Intranet Governance Council to the demos to get their input, as well.
Have additional features that you think would be critical to a social Intranet? Feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think is important or what has turned out to be a popular social feature for your employees.