A while ago, Martin wrote a post for Kilobox Communiqué, introducing his talk at the Intranet Now conference, explaining how the selection of intranets in most companies is done wrong, how you should compare intranet software.
It's easy to get bound by strict checklists and overwhelmed by marketing hype when evaluating intranets. But both the checklist approach and believing in the hype rarely result in an intranet that meets a company's needs.
The only way to be certain you are getting the best intranet for your company is to install and use them. See which one best fits your requirements.
That's a huge time investment.
It is less time consuming to create a good shortlist of intranet solutions which you then test, as long as you follow a few guidelines.
Avoid strict checklists
Checklists are used to minimize complexity in decision making. Bad intranet feature checklists are full of useless criteria such as 'Rich text editor', 'multiple authors', etc.
All intranets have such core features, whether they work well or not is another question.
Intranet solutions are ignored when they don't support specific use cases. This can exclude excellent software, which could be made to fit your needs with extensions, small changes to your work process, or working with the developer to add a new feature.
If you strictly follow a checklist, you will end up with an unstable, poorly supported, difficult to use, generalized intranet solution that does everything, but does nothing well.
Use good criteria
There are many (more complex) criteria which are better for evaluating intranet software. Some examples include:
- Ease of use
- Use cases
- Collaboration and communication features
- Community and networking features
- Integration and infrastructure
The Intranet Compass, an independently managed website developed from a comprehensive and ongoing survey of intranet software vendors, suggests 50 good criteria which can be used to help narrow down your short list.
Use your organization's goals to narrow the selection criteria is so much better than relying on a feature checklist. Is collaboration or digital business processes more important? What about knowledge sharing and efficient group communication?
Go beyond the checklist
Call vendors, ask questions, see how responsive and approachable they are. Do they encourage feature requests from their customers?
Ask your employees if they really need a certain feature — is it a deal breaker? Find out if they could work with alternative solutions.
Attend webinars and training sessions, view feature videos, read the documentation - is this software easy to learn and easy to use?
View live demonstrations of features in action, don't just watch the marketing videos. Intranet Compass is building a library of feature demonstration videos right now.
Don't believe there is ever one 'perfect' solution.
Most solutions will work (with some tweaks), and most solutions will lack some of the features you want.
Intranet Compass - the place to compare corporate intranet solutions
Why you should avoid project references from your industry when comparing intranet solutions
How companies fail in choosing intranet software - don't make these mistakes!
Survey results - what customers require from Confluence intranets