When your organization is deciding to purchase a new intranet, there are countless factors to consider. A few obvious ones like how long it would be supported, how much will it cost over its lifetime, etc but there are also a number of other factors that play an important role in whether or not the intranet project will be successful.
What functionality do users expect?
The first key question to keep in mind is understanding the expectation of your intranet audience. Do you know what they expect from intranet functionality?
Think of your company's age demographics. Age can significantly color their expectations for technology capability. You want the intranet to have more capabilities than your users expect. This makes the effort employees put in to learn the new tool worth it. The last thing you want to happen is move everyone to a new intranet for them to turn around and go “but we could do that on the old site!”
What content engages your users?
Along those same lines of tailoring the intranet to user expectations, will it support the types of content your users like? Do you know what types of content engages your users? Content is what drives intranet success, though it might not always seem that way.
If your intranet has content that people want and need to see, then the intranet will organically work its way into their routine. For example, if your organization consistently posts bulletins on project statuses and allows communities for employee groups, then chances are people will feel a pull to go to the intranet site and see if anything new has been posted.
One might be significantly less work related than the other, but it helps to ingrain the intranet as a platform for interesting content more than just a delivery mechanism for more work. And those connotations matter.
What level of mobility does your organization need?
The last key question to ask is more intuitive: do you know how many users access or want access via mobile devices? Having a mobile ready platform is key to adhering to user expectations and making the platform feel more modern. If users cannot access content from mobile when they expect to (which is likely if they are young) and when they need to, then that gap will cause unnecessary and harmful frustration over the long term.
User Usage Questions
Beyond questions of user expectations for a new platform, there are a couple of questions that need to be answered about the current platform.
How often does your organization access the intranet?
The first key question to understand is how often the majority of your user base accesses the intranet. If that number is unsatisfactory then do you know the driving factors behind why that number is so low? When you know the answers to those questions, only then can you really understand what you need from a new intranet platform.
How many of your users regularly engage with intranet content?
The other important usage question that probably helps to answer the prior questions is do you know the percent of users that like, share, bookmark, or otherwise engage with content on your intranet? If you understand what is driving that engagement your platform then you know some of your must-haves for a new intranet platform. It obviously will need the ability to handle those content types and be ready for an administrative structure that enables and/or creates that content on a regular basis.
These questions help an organization get a better picture on the underlying factors that make an intranet successful and drive up employee engagement. Without answering at least some of these questions before purchasing an intranet, your organization is going into the acquisition process in the dark about what it really needs. Make sure your organization has the complete picture of what it needs from an intranet before it buying to avoids having yet another unused, desolate intranet.