Oftentimes, when someone uses the word “intranet,” people think it might be a typo for “internet.” Although they’ve been around for years, intranet networks still haven’t gotten as much notice as they should. The term “intranet,” is used in contrast to the word “internet,” which means a network of connected organizations. An intranet, though, is a network used to communicate between members of a single organization.
Just one short year ago, Goodwill was operating without an intranet. We were pushing information to 1100+ employees through email and the use of drives that could only be accessed while connected to the Goodwill server. While it was an OK system, we knew we could make things better, faster, and more accessible for all of our employees. To do that, we looked into programs that companies use to allow simple and direct communication from employee to employee. Our search led us to Sharepoint, which is a part of the Microsoft Office 365 software platform. With the help of an outside Sharepoint expert and excellent pricing for nonprofit companies, we were able to get the system up and running without much of a headache or the use of many funds.
Our intranet system, which we have dubbed “The Blue Room,” has forever changed the way Goodwill runs internally, and it’s done so for the better. Here are some ways it’s helped our organization and ways it could help yours, too:
- Because the network exists online in a cloud-based system, our employees can access it from anywhere. We’re no longer limited by who has access to our shared information drives. Given the right permissions, any of our employees can log on to access a plethora of information about what’s happening at Goodwill on a daily basis.
- Employees can easily access multi-media, like pictures, videos, spreadsheets, etc. without getting their email inboxes completely clogged. It has streamlined the way we share organization-wide messages and news about our growth, events, programs, etc.
- Departments feel more connected. Because we’re an organization with so many different locations (retail, headquarters, warehouses), it’s often hard to know what’s happening in other branches. With the help of the Blue Room, though, we’ve been able to unite the organization in many ways just by making information more accessible. In fact, by using another part of the Microsoft Office 365 software, called Lync, we were recently able to connect every Goodwill Denver location to our year end meeting—something we’d never been able to accomplish before!
- Business information has never been easier to deliver. Rather than having employees learn and use several different programs to pull information, we can put permanent reports up on the intranet and set permissions accordingly. It has already saved some of our retail managers hours of work every month.
- The intranet has encouraged collaboration! Rather than emailing a single document from person to person, the file can exist in one place, and employees can edit it simultaneously. This has done wonders for our organization by cutting back on emails and on multiple saved versions of a document.
Maybe your organization only has 5 employees, or maybe you’ve got thousands. No matter what, streamlining your internal information saves everyone time and helps create a more efficient work flow. While Sharepoint was right for us, there are several other platforms out there that are particular to different styles of business. Do some research and find out what will suit your model best.