SharePoint intranet-in-a-box, also known as a ready-to-go SharePoint solution, has gained immense popularity in the past few years.
Most of these ready solutions are comprehensive and come pre-configured with department and team sites that facilitate document management, task management, employee management, automated forms, reports and analytics, easy publishing for news and announcements, and much more. These SharePoint solutions can also integrate with other systems which further helps to consolidate all the operations of a business on one platform. This saves time, minimizes costs and lets the organization communicate seamlessly.
Why do you need SharePoint intranet-in-a-box Solution?
A few years ago when a company wanted an intranet solution, they would have to build one themselves. This involved a lengthy process of defining requirements, getting them approved, and hiring SharePoint experts to develop the solution. This was time-consuming and expensive and not affordable for smaller companies.
The ready-to-go intranet solution has emerged to fill this market gap. It is easy to install, quick to implement and set up, and with its monthly payment option – very affordable for companies of all sizes. The best part is that support and maintenance from the vendor are included in its price.
Especially preferred by SMBs, SharePoint intranet-in-a-box solution comes with these added benefits:
- Easily customizable with regards to functionality and looks
- 99% uptime guaranteed by Microsoft
- Highest grade security and data backups
- Pre-built modules, process automation, and integrations with 3rd party solutions and legacy systems
It has been reported that the intranets that appeared on the list of 10 winners in Nielsen Norman Design Annual 2016, took an average of 15 months to build and design. This is a long time and a lot can change in this course. Businesses find it a cumbersome and time-consuming task to design, customize, and deploy intranet solutions. Thus, considering investing in a pre-built SharePoint intranet in-a-box solution that gets up and running within no time is a no-brainer.
6 Tips for Selecting a SharePoint Solution
Let’s have a look at these six tips that can help businesses select an intranet-in-a-box solution. Asking these questions will help you get information about the product which will guide you to make a decision depending on factors like scalability, compatibility, mobility and security.
1. Is the Solution a ‘Native’ Intranet-in-a-Box?
This is an important question to ask the vendor as it is directly concerned with app integration and data storage. A native solution is built on SharePoint and is tightly integrated with it. It sits within the SharePoint framework and supports seamless interactions within the two. It cannot exist independently.
A non-native solution, on the other hand, is a separate entity which has its interaction points with SharePoint. It stores data on SharePoint but sits completely separate from it.
A native solution is usually preferred because of these reasons:
- When Microsoft adds innovative features in SharePoint, these are immediately available on a native intranet-in-a-box. However, in non-native solution, the vendor has to first release the update and after that, it gets up and running. Here, your organizational staff can miss out the updated functionality on SharePoint.
- A native intranet-in-a-box solution is user-friendly and offers a seamless and consistent experience. On the other hand, in a non-native intranet solution, navigating between SharePoint and the intranet solution will feel like working on separate intranets. It affects the user experience and adoption.
2. Is the Solution Truly Mobile Friendly and Responsive?
In this internet driven world, the needs of employees have drastically changed. These days it is rare that all participants in a discussion or meeting are face to face in the same room, or that co-authoring and collaborating are taking place at one physical location.
Currently, people work across borders – in coffee shops, from home, using any device, at any time. Today’s workforce is well equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets that allow them to work freely from anywhere around the world.
Turnkey SharePoint solutions have been designed considering this work transformation and for this reason organizations large and small rely on it. Before selecting a ready-to-go intranet, it is important to make sure that its user interface is compatible across all the platforms – laptops, tablets, and mobile phones (Android or iOS); and that its UI is intuitive, responsive and easy to navigate. This makes work easier and stress-free.
3. Does the Solution Have a Product Roadmap?
It is important that your SharePoint intranet-in-a-box vendor be technology driven and have an innovative and customer-driven roadmap. A product roadmap is a plan that conveys long term and short term goals and it is backed by specific technology solutions. Having a plan will demonstrate the vendor’s commitment to their product and you can be rest assured that the product will meet your growing needs in the future and that you will receive support and updates in a timely manner.
4. How User-Friendly Is the Product?
The intranet-in-a-box market has come a long way in solving the collaboration and communication gaps. It has also helped reduce the expenses incurred by the IT department and eliminated the need for SharePoint developers and experts.
A user-friendly intranet caters to the needs of the employees. It should be attractive and easy to navigate, with a clean, consistent interface. Your staff should be able to find what they need – documents, plans, calendars, people – easily. They should be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly using the tools provided through the intranet. They should be able to work without unnecessary interruptions or manual processes that waste time.
Apart from this, these are some more features that make a solution user-friendly:
- Simple to install and configure
- Mobile-friendly for anywhere, anytime access
- Social intranet tools like blogging, sharing, chat, team workspaces and video conferencing
- Enterprise search capabilities
- Automatic updates and a consistent performance
5. Is the solution extensible and can be easily integrated with business applications?
As the needs of a business keep growing and changing; an intranet solution also should be able to grow and change course to fit its needs. A ready to go intranet should be flexible enough to expand when the company increases its operations, and contract when it consolidates its processes.
It is also important that the intranet in-a-box solution has the capacity to link and integrate with external business applications such as CRM, ERP, business intelligence, etc.. Being able to have integrations between legacy systems and current business applications is crucial to the overall productivity of the company. It helps eliminate confusion, redundancy, and time wasting, and brings all systems, tools, documents, information to one central place.
6. Is the solution a Software-as-a-Service Offering and Does the Vendor Support Hybrid Deployments?
Depending on what fits your business needs you may be looking for a hybrid deployment or Software-as-a-Service model. Before investing in a ready-to-go intranet, it is necessary to ask the vendor whether it can be deployed online, on-premise or on both.
Usually, resources that are non-critical are stored online and sensitive data is housed internally.
The Final Lap
SharePoint intranet-in-a-box is a full-fledged digital solution that bolsters collaboration and creates a single hub for all work. Whether it is about managing team tasks or co-authoring documents, it offers facilities and tools that will undoubtedly speed up your productivity. Before selecting an ideal solution, scrutinize your needs and ask these questions so that you have a product that fits 80-90% of your needs.