Many organisations are embarking on their own Office 365 journey, a significant investment that can result in major business change and even digital transformation. Office 365 implementation is usually a multi-year programme of work with a number of different projects and milestones. Along the way new tools will be adopted, processes will be completely reimagined, and new opportunities will emerge.
A common milestone in an Office 365 roadmap is the introduction of new Office 365 intranet, based on SharePoint Online. If this isn’t on your roadmap then you’re likely missing a trick. An Office 365 intranet offers an excellent opportunity to drive value and can also complement the other milestones in your overall 365 roadmap in several ways.
In this article we’re going to explore the reasons why an Office 365 intranet really should be a key milestone in your Office 365 plans.
1It’s a great opportunity to deliver an excellent intranet
Office 365 and more specifically SharePoint Online is an excellent base technology for an intranet for multiple reasons. We recently posted an article detailing ten reasons why SharePoint and SharePoint Online really is the best choice for an intranet. This includes elements such as its flexibility, scalability, variety of options, ability to support both publishing and collaboration, and the easy integration with the rest of the Office 365 suite, a theme we explore in more detail below. If your current intranet is less than great, you’re missing out on an opportunity to deliver an excellent new intranet and fully leverage your investment in Office 365.
2An intranet is part of digital transformation
Office 365 programmes are often positioned as an enabler of digital transformation or as a strategic change programme. Although IT may be leading the roll-out, the wider change is likely to be endorsed by the CEO or other members of the C-suite. If this is the case it would be strange to leave the intranet, a major channel for internal communication and change management, out of scope of such a high-profile initiative. An intranet helps communicate change and should be part of the change itself.
3You may be aligning and simplifying your technology stack
With a move to Office 365 it’s very likely that you may be moving many of your applications to the cloud, and generally rationalising your technology stack. The introduction of Office 365 can effectively render some of your existing applications as legacy systems. In the world of intranets, you may indeed have an old CMS, as well as a myriad of local intranet solutions, perhaps some of them on-premises. There may also be a number of make-shift applications which act as a place to store content. A new Office 365 intranet may well be an opportunity to simplify your technology stack and rationalise a lot of old CMS and intranet solutions, ultimately cutting costs, making the environment more manageable and probably reducing risk too.
4It helps bring Office 365 into the daily flow of work
One of the key advantages of an Office 365 intranet is that you can easily integrate Office 365 tools like Yammer and MS Teams into it. This turns your Office 365 intranet into more of a digital workplace, bringing Office 365 tools into the daily flow of people’s work, for example by providing a feed of aggregated updates across different groups and workspaces into one place.
It’s also possible to bring automation, workflow and reporting using the wider suite of Office 365 tools right into the intranet experience, again bringing the power of these tools to employees, while also making for a more essential and relevant intranet.
5It supports governance
Office 365 and its constituent tools provide a fantastic opportunity for organisations and teams to improve the way they work. However, in the rush to drive adoption you can run into governance issues that may can leave you with operational issues further down the line. For example, when first launched, Teams can go “viral” which is great, but can soon lead to a platform with duplicated, unused and hard to find spaces.
An Office 365 intranet can actually help support your governance in multiple ways, for example WIzdom comes with a collaboration hub that allows you to put approval workflow in place for the creation of new sites. Your intranet can also encourage the use of approved Office 365 tools rather than shadow IT.
6It supports adoption and change
Implementing Office 365 involves a large change management effort in order to help drive adoption. A SharePoint Online intranet can help with this effort not only in including communications, but also in helping to feature particular tools, removing barriers to their use and aggregating notifications. Here the tight potential integration between intranet and Office 365 can be useful.
When rolling out Office 365 It can also help to present the overall range of communication and collaboration options available in an intranet together with the other options across Office 365, so an employee has a complete picture of the tools available to them.
7It supports findability across Office 365
Achieving reasonable levels of findability across the digital workplace can be a challenge. One of the key roles of an intranet is to help users find what they need – employees may now expect an intranet search to perform at least some kind of enterprise search. Implementing an Office 365 intranet with SharePoint or Microsoft search is going to be more effective than a non-SharePoint intranet in displaying results from across SharePoint sites and other Office 365 tools like Teams.
8It supports future exploitation of Office 365
Microsoft continue to invest heavily in Office 365 and its suite of tools, including out-of-the-box intranet capabilities, new features and more. Having an Office 365 intranet helps you to more fully leverage the Office 365 future roadmap. For example, there are improvements coming to both Yammer and to the Power Platform providing an opportunity to improve collaboration and introduce more sophisticated automation right into the intranet experience.
9Seize the opportunity to fund your new intranet
A new intranet is not always the top priority for senior management and can be regarded as “hygiene” rather than a strategic investment. This means internal communications functions and intranet teams sometimes have to wait longer than they should do for investment to get a new or improved platform
In our experience, Office 365 programme are usually well-funded, so ensuring that an Office 365 intranet is in scope within the programme, is usually an excellent (bur rare) opportunity to properly fund a new intranet. If your company is going down the Office 365 route, then it’s time to make your business case!
Get in touch!
If you’re launching Office 365 and want to know more about your intranet options, or are about to refresh your Office 365 intranet and think you may need help then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.