18 questions you need to ask your intranet vendor

Jonathan Davies • Mon, Dec 17, '18 •

18 questions you need to ask your intranet vendor

You’ve reached the point of deciding you need an intranet – what’s next? What do you need to find the best solution for your company?

With many different solutions out there, it is extremely important to look through all the platforms to decide which intranet strategy will be best for your enterprise. While it’s useful to compare one intranet software solution to another, you can’t compare one business to another.

You might have heard great things about one solution from a certain company, but the point of intranet implementation is to reach that perfect fit.

One business’s ideal intranet strategy may not work for another. Keep this in mind when searching through user reviews. To ask the right questions to your vendor, internal research is often the best starting point. Only when you have all your data collected will you understand your company’s needs. That kind of clarity is crucial when talking to vendors.

The importance of finding the right intranet solution

In order to find the right solution for your business, you need to analyze each platform’s intranet strategy to make sure the way they work fits the way you work. Before you can assess the intranet software, you need to assess your internal workings to figure out how an intranet can best serve your employees and company as a whole.

First, ask your employees what they want and need from an intranet solution.

  • What frustrates them within the current communications and digital workspace platforms?
  • Do tasks seem to take longer than they should? How can that be improved?
  • What would they like to see incorporated into an intranet solution?

Next, assess your resources.

  • Human. What internal expertise do you have to support this intranet software? Will you need to hire new staff to maintain the system, or is that something you want your intranet solution to provide?
  • Budget. What financial resources do you have to support your intranet implementation? What are the one-time and recurring costs that you need to take into account when purchasing?
  • Time. What is your launch timeline like? How soon do you need to implement this intranet system?

Next step: come up with a list of business objectives and needs that will guide you through your search for an intranet software. At this point, you will want to look through a list of solution options, compare the features that they provide with your business objectives, look carefully at their intranet strategy approach, and then narrow down your search to 3-5 providers that you believe will be a good fit.

Keep in mind: the main factor in successful intranet adoption is usage. Employee usage is what will drive the adoption process forward, so keep an employee’s mindset when searching through your options. Which features will keep them coming back to the intranet? Which features align best your employees’ daily usage of the platform?

After you have narrowed down your search, it’s time to ask the important questions.

18 Questions for your potential intranet vendor

While questions to your potential vendor address your specific needs, these questions cover the essential intranet strategy elements you may have missed:

1. Will your solution facilitate cross-departmental communication?

Cultivating communication across your entire enterprise should be one of your main goals when implementing an intranet solution. You want easy-to-use social features that optimize communication between your employees – top down, bottom up, and every way between. Keep in mind the specific ways that your employees communicate that are unique to your business. Tech companies love .gifs, large corporations don’t. Make sure these features align with the intranet strategy.

2. Will it be easy to use for every employee?

Your intranet software needs to be accessible and user-friendly to every employee, no matter their skill level. Confusing interfaces lead to a difficult adoption process at best – a failure at worst. Think about your employees and their needs when looking at the front end of your potential intranet software.

3. What are the additional, recurring costs after the initial intranet implementation?

Don’t get caught off guard by any reoccuring or unforseen costs in your intranet software. There will most likely be charges beyond your initial purchase, so make sure your vendor lays it all out for you. Ask about service costs or additional costs that you could be charged for down the road. Use that information to assess if the solution will fit in with your budget.

4. How long is the intranet implementation process?

Make sure your potential vendor lays out the intranet implementation process for you, step-by-step, so you know exactly what to expect. If you have little time for your intranet implementation, you will want to make sure your vendor is willing to work with you to speed things up. As the saying goes: ‘you can have it good, cheap or fast – pick two.’

5. Can we customize your solution, and if so will that add to the overall cost?

You will want to check if you can customize features of your intranet software, because that could be a game-changer when looking at your vendor’s intranet strategy. Are you looking for something that you can build off of to make your own? Perhaps you need something that will be all-inclusive and ready to go? Again, think about your specific enterprise culture and resources when considering customization.

6. Who will provide staff to manage the intranet software?

Do you have the in-house expertise necessary to maintain your intranet? Or can your intranet vendor provide this? Will it be more cost-effective for a current employee to fulfill this role, or will it be more beneficial for the vendor to do that? You also want to avoid doubling-up on any services or tasks that might be covered by the provider.

7. What kind of customer service do you offer? What ongoing services do you provide to offer support?

Customer service should be an important factor in choosing your intranet software. You want your vendor to have an ongoing, participatory role in your intranet utilization. Find a provider that is going to work with the specific needs you have, and helps you spot any potential problems.

8. What happens if something goes wrong with the system and needs to be corrected?

You want to know exactly how your intranet provider is going to react to a major crisis or software breakdown before it happens. If an issue occurs that is potentially their fault, how are they going to support you? This question should also answer whether this has happened before, and how your intranet provider resolved it.

9. What integration capabilities are there?

If you have SaaS tools that you are relying on and you want to integrate them into your intranet, make sure that your potential vendor focuses on that in their intranet strategy. Be confident that this integration will be seamless and sensible within the larger intranet software. Ask if they are familiar with the tools that you are already using. Don’t be afraid to ask about past success or issues.

10. What measures do you take to secure your system?

Security is a major element in your intranet software solution. When you entrust your entire company’s work with an outside vendor, you want to make sure there are measures in place to secure all of your data and employees. What will they do if there is a breach in security? They need to prove to you that no matter what, you will be safe in their care.

11. Can this intranet software be updated easily? Will there be any additional costs?

You are going to need intranet software that will be adaptable and relevant – now and later. A system that won’t upgrade itself or comes with a cost for every upgrade is not worth investing in. Ask your potential vendor to lay out their intranet update strategy, step-by-step. Make sure your provider also explains how they decide to update software and how it works.

12. What kind of training will be needed during the intranet implementation process?

Find out exactly which part your intranet provider will expect you to play in the training process. Will they send staff in to help you through it? Or will you need to train an employee who can then train the rest of the staff? Ask for the specific materials to look over and check how long the process lasts. It all adds to the intranet implementation time.

13. Have you ever worked with a client that had similar needs to ours? How did you meet them?

This question will let you know if this vendor will be able to meet your specific needs or not. Ask for real stories and examples from real clients to get an idea of what their intranet strategy will be for your company. Be sure to elaborate on the top issues that you want your intranet solution to fix.

14. What is your company’s unique brand and what are its values?

While it may seem secondary or unnecessary to ask for the values of your intranet provider’s company, it is important to maintain the standards of your enterprise’s brand. Who your business associates with on any level will reflect on your brand, so you need to know what your vendor’s company is all about before you decide to partner with them. The answer to this question will also help you get a good idea of what it’s like to work with your potential vendor.

15. What are some stories of successful intranet implementations you have had with some of your clients?

Get to know exactly how your vendor defines success. Figure out what they do well. You will want to hear if their success stories highlight all of the features that interest you the most. What kind of intranet implementation strategies do they use to achieve success? If they haven’t had success with your specific intranet needs, or you don’t agree with their intranet strategy as a whole, then it might not be the best fit.

16. What approach will you take specifically to our intranet solution?

You need to know your provider’s exact intranet strategy going into your solution. What approach are they going to take to address your issues? Knowing the specifics will help you decide if their intranet strategy will work with your enterprise’s working style. Every vendor will come up with a solution to your intranet problem, but their approaches will differ. Not all strategies suit your business’ modus operandi.

17. What type of measurable results can we expect after implementing your intranet solution?

Get your vendor to help you map out your KPIs ahead of time. They should be building your solution in ways that will help you collect data to measure your Return on Investment (ROI). You also want to know that your provider is thinking of the efficiency and success that their service will offer your enterprise.

18. Why should we choose your intranet solution over your competitor’s solution?

Here is where you want your potential vendor to sell themselves and plainly lay out why they are the best solution for you. What do they believe gives them the edge? Let them do the work for you in helping you choose your intranet provider. There is no larger red flag than a vendor trashing the competition, so be wary of that.

Using responses to find the right fit

After you collect your answers, sift through them to analyze and compare each vendor’s intranet strategy. Look through the responses with your business's priorities in mind. Figure out what your top needs are, and look at the solutions that align with those needs.

After that, ask for a trial of their intranet software. During the trial period, make sure to keep those business objectives in mind. Don’t get wowed by trendy new features – stay focused on the real reasons and features that you know will be beneficial.

Make sure to take notes during the trial period and get employee feedback. Weigh everything against your specific needs. Observe how your staff interacts with the intranet, because employee usage is the only way to a successful adoption. Even if the potential vendor checks all your boxes – if it’s not user-friendly, it won’t be worth it.

The trial period is also a good time to look through user reviews and cross-check comments others made about the intranet software. Once you know you are ready for an intranet, follow these steps:

  • take the time to map out your business objectives,
  • research your options,
  • ask potential vendors questions above,
  • look extensively into their individual intranet strategies.

Then use all that data to choose an intranet software for a trial period. After you’ve evaluated the trial, you should be able to set your enterprise up for the best solution possible.

Author:

Jonathan Davies

Date:

Mon, Dec 17, '18

Read more from this author

Subscribe to the blog and receive monthly updates to your email.