Implementing a new intranet is a big investment. So it makes sense that you want to be completely sure you’ve found the right solution before you pull the trigger.
Since there are so many intranet providers out there, many organizations sign up for free trials to test-drive a few platforms and determine which one is the best fit. However, many organizations make the mistake of signing up for trials without doing the necessary preparation. Instead of helping them to make a decision, this just ends up wasting time.
An intranet trial should leave you with a comprehensive understanding of how the platform works, and a good idea of whether it’s the right choice for your organization. In this article, we’ll share our advice on what to do before and during an intranet trial to make sure you get the most out of it.
How to get the most out of your intranet trial (8 steps)
So, how do you make the most of your intranet trial? Following the steps below can help you to determine whether an intranet solution is a good fit for your organization.
Evaluate your current system and processes
The whole point of choosing a new intranet is to improve your systems and processes — but you can’t do that if you don’t fully understand them. If you already have an intranet in place, diving into your analytics can help you to establish exactly how your teams are using it. You’ll need to determine which features are particularly crucial, so that you can ensure your new intranet includes them too.
At this point, you should also list all of the other tools, apps, and platforms your employees use daily. This can act as a helpful reminder of the integrations you need to test when you’re trying out an intranet.
Make a list of everything you need in an intranet
Making a list of all of the features you need from your intranet can help you prepare for an intranet trial. The exact features you’ll need will depend on your organization’s specific circumstances. However, some popular features that you might want to look out for include:
- Universal search: Platforms that let you search across several connected locations at the same time can increase your team’s efficiency and eliminate wasted time.
- Social channels: Particularly in this era of remote work, tools that connect your employees together are crucial.
- Intranet analytics: These tell you exactly how your people are using your platform so that you can continue to adjust it and give them the best possible experience.
- Employee directory: A fully searchable employee directory ensures employees can always find the right person to help them — even if they’ve never met.
- Full branding: How do you make sure people feel at home as soon as they log on to your intranet? By personalizing the logo, domain name, and other elements so it matches your brand.
Build a shortlist of intranet providers to compare
Next, you’ll need to make a list of all of the available intranet platforms that could meet your needs. It’s important to do your research here, as there’s no point in wasting time testing out a product that doesn’t do what you need it to.
There are a lot of intranet platforms out there, and figuring out which ones might work for you can be tricky. A good place to start is by browsing sites like G2, Software Advice, and Capterra and reading intranet reviews. Alternatively, you could use our intranet comparison guide as a jumping-off point.
Assign an intranet champion to take charge of the trial
If you want to make the most of your intranet trial, consider putting one person or team in charge of it. This turns the process into a focused research project because they will have to deliver a detailed review of the platform and its features to the rest of the organization.
If you’re trialing several different platforms, it’s even more important to have the same person or team assess them. That way, they’ll be able to compare each platform directly with the others. Plus, if you do choose to go with one of the intranet platforms you tried, these intranet champions will be able to help with training other employees.
Evaluate how the intranet integrates with your other tools
An intranet trial is a good opportunity to assess how the platform will integrate with your other software and workflows. For example, if your employees use Google Workspace for collaboration and file-sharing, you’ll need to find out if this is compatible with your chosen intranet platform.
Of course, looking at the list of integrations that a provider offers is a good start. But trying out the software yourself can give you a better idea of how things actually work together.
Find out how long the intranet takes to ramp up
Imagine the disappointment of trying out an intranet platform and then discovering you’d have to wait several months (or longer) to have the full version up and running. Be sure to find out how long an intranet will take to fully set up before or during your trial. After all, the sooner you can launch your intranet and onboard all of your employees, the sooner it will start providing value for your organization.
To give you an idea of what the industry standards are, the average intranet takes about 1.2 years to launch. With Happeo, that wait time looks more like 6–8 weeks.
Look into the support options available
Another thing that’s important to determine during an intranet trial period is how extensive the provider’s customer support will be if you decide to move forward. Almost all software programs run into problems occasionally, and it’s good to have an idea of what this will look like.
Another reason this is important to figure out is that the support you opt for could affect how much your intranet costs. Many solutions offer different levels of support depending on how much you need — and more extensive support comes with a higher price tag.
Ask about available customization options
Every business has its own unique processes and workflows — and not every intranet will work for you out of the box. However, many intranet solutions come with customization options that could help you to tailor the platform to your situation. Exactly how much customization the solution allows for is something you should determine during your intranet trial.
With Happeo, custom widgets let you create a social intranet that’s totally adapted to your needs, and deeply linked to the other tools and software you use. For example, you could create custom widgets that allow you to access your enterprise resource planning system, project management tools, or sales platform, all from within Happeo’s interface.
Choosing the best intranet platform for your business
Choosing an intranet is a big job, and a free trial can be a useful tool that helps you to make your decision. However, signing up for a trial without any preparation is just a waste of time.
Once you’ve established that an intranet solution could be a good fit for your organization, it’s a good idea to book a demo call before you jump into a full-on trial period. This allows you to see the platform in action and gives you a better idea of the features you want to try out yourself.
Want to check out a social intranet platform with built-in collaboration features, employee engagement tools, and knowledge management capabilities? To see all of this and more in action, sign up for a Happeo demo.