Intranets meet many different needs. An intranet helps to deliver Internal communications, content publishing, collaboration, support for customer services, onboarding, document management, HR self-service, learning, enterprise search, a front door to help employees navigate the wider digital workplace and more.
To a certain extent the needs around these different areas are similar from organisation to organisation, and subsequently intranets deployed in different organisations have similar capabilities. It’s also why some of the core features of intranet ‘in-a-box’ products like Wizdom are relatively similar – for example in how news publishing is dealt with and is displayed.
When you have very specific requirements
The problem often comes when you want to meet the very specific requirements for your organisation. Perhaps you run your onboarding in a slightly different way to other companies or perhaps your project management methodology is unique to you? Perhaps you use a combination of different systems for one process or perhaps you have a creaking legacy system you built in-house which means employees complete tasks in a certain way?
Perhaps you have some very complex workflows and approvals for your content? Or perhaps you have a stubborn stakeholder who wants things done in a certain way? Maybe you need to have some unique branding on your intranet or different parts of your organisation do different things in different ways.
In most large or complex organisations, it is extremely likely that you will want to have some digital workplace or intranet feature that is unique to the way you operate.
Should you customise?
Sometimes when you need your intranet or digital workplace to deviate from the “standard” way of doing things, there is a perception that the intranet product won’t quite do exactly what you want. That’s when some organisations decide they need to customise a solution or even build their own to meet specific needs.
Customisation has some advantages in that you can meet your exact requirements, but it is expensive, means the implementation must be closely managed, has more risks and, crucially, means it is far harder to upgrade. In our view, it is better to buy than build. It also means you might not be able to take advantage of all the efficiency, usability and productivity advantages of an in-a-box product like Wizdom, especially when it is combined with a cloud platform like Office 365. For these reasons, many IT departments tend to avoid customisation if they can.
The result of avoiding customisation is that there can be tension when an IT department wants to implement a standard solution, and local stakeholders or groups of employees want to have highly customised solutions which meet their individual needs.
Sometimes is it possible for employees to change the way they work, but overall the best possible solution is when you have a highly flexible and configurable intranet and digital workplace which meets local or unique business requirements and avoids the negative associations of customisation. We often encounter perceptions that this cannot be done, but with the right product and approach, this is perfectly possible.
For example, a typical (and very powerful) combination of products is the use of Wizdom and Office 365 together. Together, we’re confident that they can solve the vast majority of very specific, individual intranet and digital workplace requirements.
Let’s look at five ways this happens.
1. Range of features
One of the key strengths of combining Office 365 and Wizdom is the sheer breadth of capabilities and range of tools available for employees to use, meeting a variety of different needs and use cases across your organisation. In fact, it’s unlikely you will use all the functionality on offer, but these tools provide many options to provide a sophisticated digital workplace as new needs emerge.
For example, Office 365 alone has various options for messaging and collaboration for individuals, small teams, wider communities, project teams, those who want to collaborate on documents, and many more use cases.
Meanwhile Wizdom supports intranet publishing and internal communications for both your entire organisation and local departments. You can also establish a central policy library, manage events, provide access to learning resources, use a ticketing system for logging issues and more. You really will be able to meet most of the requirements across your organisation.
2. Configuration of individual features
As well as the range of features available, each of the tools is also generally configurable to give as much flexibility as possible. For example, the range of different options in Wizdom allows you to build the intranet homepage you actually want with specific features and corporate branding, or to introduce the collaboration site that fully supports your project methodology.
Also, because there is the ability to introduce personalisation and content targeting, it means you can deliver targeted, relevant experiences for different audiences within your organisation, incorporating different sub-brands if necessary.
3. Wizdom’s extensibility engine
We also know that there is always going to be some tweaking to standard functionality which users and organisations need and where products cannot meet every eventuality. Because of this, we’ve built Wizdom in such a way that it is possible to customise some elements of the product without impacting the long-term viability of the platform; you can still carry out upgrades.
While we believe the core tools of the platform will meet around 90 percent of user needs, Wizdom’s extensibility engine means you can customise the last 10 percent you need and have a solution which exactly meets your requirements, but still safely evolve your digital workplace.
4. Integration with the wider digital workplace
Delivering a more integrated experience across different systems is a common direction of travel for advanced intranets and digital workplaces. This can involve a great deal of customisation, but at Wizdom we can easily integrate with the rest of the Office 365 suite, including Microsoft Teams and modern SharePoint sites. Your intranet becomes an integrated digital workplace experience.
5. Keeping up with emerging needs
There are always emerging needs within organisations caused by organisational changes, new services, the increased expectation of users and the release of new digital capabilities which are now commercially available. Often intranet and digital workplace teams have requirements to meet these needs quickly, but find their intranet is not ready or able to do this.
One of the key advantages of Office 365 combined with an ‘in a box’ product like Wizdom is that it can meet these emergent needs, either through the release of new tools within the Office 365 suite which can then be integrated seamlessly into your intranet, or through features within the intranet which have been introduced on the back of direct feedback from customers. This means your intranet is effectively up-to-date and future-proofed as an ever-expanding true digital workplace.
Meeting your requirements
We’re confident that Wizdom, when combined with Office 365, can deliver most of the requirements of your business, even if they are highly specific to the way you work. You don’t necessarily need to customise – and if you do – our extensibility engine means it can be done in a managed way.
If you’ve ever felt worried that an in-a-box product won’t meet the very specific way your organisation works, then think again; it can be done.
The original article was published here