When a company is small – 5 or 10 employees – communication is easy. You talk to one another all day, you’re already in lock-step on initiatives and, really, who needs employee policies when it’s you and you 4 other people?
As an organization grows, though, so does its operational issues. Communication becomes a challenge. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page is critical to employee satisfaction and customer success.
The other side of the coin is that leaders have less time to spend disseminating information. Making sure that employees have easy access to policies is one more item on a leader’s task list. And keeping project communication flowing generally takes precedence over other corporate communication.
When internal communication and employee self-service reach a critical tipping point, companies begin to look for solutions like an intranet. An intranet portal can breathe life into your internal communications, but figuring out how to get a project like this off the ground can be tough.
If you’re considering adding an intranet to your organization’s communication toolkit, you should consider hiring help to get it done and done right.
Why Hire a Consulting Firm for Your Intranet Portal
Intranet projects are complicated, and the reason isn’t solely because of the technology. There are a number of factors that complicate any intranet portal development or update project. Many of these complications, however, are mitigated with the use of an outside consulting firm.
A consultant knows what’s important to include
You and your team are experts in your industry. You understand your customers and what they want from your products. That doesn’t necessarily translate into being an expert in intranet functionality, however.
A skilled consulting firm understands what features can help mitigate internal communication issues. A good consultant also listens well, letting them understand the root problem and not just the immediate one. Then, they use their existing experience with portals to build features that address employee and management needs.
A consultant can address needs without concerns around office politics
Intranet portals can be a bit of a political hot potato. Some teams demand certain features to address their specific problems, while other teams desire different functionality specific to their needs. A portal project owner can find themselves stuck in the middle between these groups, trying to juggle important features for the good of the company with vocal managers demanding an offering that suits there needs alone.
An intranet portal consulting firm can look objectively at the requests and help drive the development of a tool that meets the greatest needs of the organization in the time and budget allocated for the project. At the same time, they can be flexible in helping meet the occasional politically driven request that can’t be ignored, advising stakeholders on the best features to delay for a later phase.
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They bring in an outsider’s view
Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. When you’re close to a problem, finding the right solution can be a challenge. This is especially true when you’re developing your own intranet portal.
An outside resource skilled in portal development ensures that the greatest need for the organization, as a whole, is met, and not just today’s biggest fire. A solid base of functionality that enables communication company-wide will solve more problems than features design to fix today’s problem.
Time and resources won’t be an issue
Few companies have the luxury of having a dedicated intranet team. That means that the definition and development of your intranet likely is being done by a team that has other work to do as well. Like many internal projects, team members will come and go as product and customer demands dictate. No matter how important your intranet is, it is subject to the availability of your team when you develop it in-house.
When you hire a firm to develop your intranet for you, there are no decisions to be made around opportunity cost. The project team will be dedicated to this single project, and you won’t lose developers or other project resources to other demands. Your intranet will be completed faster, hitting milestones and showing positive ROI sooner than an internal development project that might be subjugated to other company needs.
What to Look For in an Intranet Consulting Partner
There are a lot of good reasons to hire a consulting partner to define and develop your intranet. The key to making it a successful project, however, is in making sure you hire the right firm for the project.
Dig into feature decisions
Reviewing a potential partner’s previous work feel like an obvious step in choosing a consultant. However, when you’re talking to a firm about developing your intranet portal, you’ll want to know how they handle different situations. As previously mentioned, intranet development can be a minefield, and you’ll want a partner that has experience navigating similar issues.
As you’re reviewing previous work, query the consulting team on why they built out certain functionality. Was it a specific request? Was there a certain problem they were trying to solve? Was it an ask from only one department? Answers to these kinds of questions will give you insight into how this partner might approach the challenges your project may face.
Describe your challenges and explore their feedback
Some of your use cases for your intranet may be unique. Those are perfect opportunities to understand how a partner addresses the development needs for a portal.
Describe your use case or challenge to the partner and solicit their feedback and suggestions. Ask them to give details on why they would recommend a certain path or feature. Do they ask questions or do they immediately offer a solution? How they handle the discussion points to their approach in gathering requirements and building solutions.
An intranet portal consulting partner should be able to apply their experience to your organziation’s challenges. A skilled partner will listen closely to your needs and help guide you to features that can bring your teams closer together and streamline internal communications.