SharePoint intranet development has much in common with culinary arts. Acquiring SharePoint out-of-the-box, a company gets a variety of features to transform them into a custom intranet. Just the same way a chef in a restaurant uses different ingredients to cook a specialty. But is there a universal recipe to create a balanced intranet that will support activities of different departments and keep employees engaged? Let’s find out.
The basis is a critical part of every dish as it determines its essential taste. Translating it into the SharePoint language, you have to choose an optimal deployment model to build your SharePoint intranet. Currently, there are two major options: you can choose an on-premises corporate portal on SharePoint Server or you can run a cloud intranet with SharePoint Online.
Two platforms have several critical differences. Comparing SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online, companies should pay attention to such important aspects as:
Apart from that, deciding on an intranet’s basis, you also determine the cost of the entire SharePoint ‘dish,’ its customization flexibility, and the level of control over it.
Once you select an optimal basis for your SharePoint intranet, you can move on to filling it with different ingredients. The ‘stuffing’ usually depends on the overall needs of your business, as well as on specific activities and preferences of particular departments and teams. If there was a traditional cookbook for corporate portals, a SharePoint intranet recipe would include several essential components.
The homepage is the face of your corporate portal. This is the first page that welcomes users once they log in and a starting point for employees to access corporate resources and systems. The intranet homepage requires a particular attention to design as it determines users’ first impression about the intranet and defines how easily they find the required information.
Employees’ profiles summarize their personal information and activities. In all SharePoint on-premises versions, users access their profiles via MySites. These are personal sites that bring together user information, as well as individual newsfeeds, blogs, apps, and
As for SharePoint Online, it doesn’t contain MySites. Personal information resides in user profiles that aggregate all content related to an employee. If you choose an Office 365 subscription, employees will be able to leverage the Delve app that not only displays employees’ info and content but also offers individual blogs.
Collaboration sites are bread-and-butter of your SharePoint intranet. They come with newsfeeds, discussion boards, calendars, rating and ranking features, mentions, and
All in all, SharePoint owners can choose among different types of sites to cover various collaboration scenarios. Let’s take a closer look at the most popular SharePoint sites you can leverage.
All these sites are available both in SharePoint On-Premises and SharePoint Online users with a sole difference: while they can be top-level sites in SharePoint On-Premises, they exist only as subsites in SharePoint Online.
Meanwhile, there are two more types of collaboration sites available for SharePoint Online users only.
Business solutions. Finally, a SharePoint intranet should foster organizations in their business activities. Relying on a great number of out-of-the-box features, organizations can extend their intranets with business solutions to cover specific processes (for example, document management, quality management, reporting) or activities of particular departments (for example, legal, R&D, accounting, etc.).
Although a typical SharePoint intranet has much to offer, it won’t be able to satisfy true intranet gourmets. Like fast food, it satisfies the overall collaboration hunger, but it can’t bring the feeling of uniqueness and delight, as haute cuisine does. So if you consider yourself a culinary connoisseur, you are welcome to fill your SharePoint intranet with unique flavors and tastes through original solutions and features.
Personalized digital workplaces. While SharePoint out-of-the-box offers MySites or user profiles, they rarely bring real value beyond summarizing employees’ info. To move to the next level, you should consider customizing your intranet and adding employee digital workspaces. This is a great chance for employees to get their private working environment for managing and storing important content, organizing their timetables and recording ideas independently on other team members. If you don’t have an internal team to offer a feasible solution, turn to SharePoint consultants who will help you develop digital workplaces within your SharePoint intranet.
If you don’t plan to go for a deep customization, consider implementing features and web parts that help employees personalize content they are interested in.
Knowledge management embedded in team collaboration. To kick off knowledge management, organizations usually implement knowledge bases that become unused very quickly. Instead of generating stiff and isolated wikis, it’s worth implementing knowledge management features within other frequently used intranet components. For example, if you run team sites, you can extend them with idea sharing areas, brainstorming and research subsites where team members can accumulate and improve project-related knowledge and expertise in parallel with their working activities.
Social components. Apart from launching fully-fledged communities, you can enrich your SharePoint intranet with organization-wide social components. Here are a few takeaways.
SharePoint productivity add-ins. Organizations usually prefer traditional add-ins that display weather forecasts, birthdays or currency rates. However, productivity add-ins (for example, task management, document management, personal growth or learning management SharePoint add-ins) can be of greater value than informational ones. The former let employees have critical data at their fingertips (for example, reports, statistics, project timelines) and stay productive at work.
Last but not least comes the dish seasoning and dressing or SharePoint intranet design. While it’s unreasonable to create unique designs for every single page of your SharePoint intranet, it makes sense to tune its key components.
This is a universal SharePoint intranet recipe that embraces all components essential to your corporate portal. You are also welcome to add your own ingredients to align the intranet with your organizational structure, your business domain, and your corporate culture. While considering an intranet project and cooperating with a SharePoint consulting company, try to find the right balance between out-of-the-box SharePoint capabilities and customizations to create a functional and unique intranet. You should also plan user training to ensure positive intranet adoption.
When starting your SharePoint intranet project from scratch or planning its redesign, don’t treat your users as fast food addicts. Let them try out an exquisite SharePoint dish cooked specially for them.