An Office 365 intranet is a powerful tool in the Office 365 tool set. Though not a part of Office 365 tools, an Office 365 intranet is built on top of Office 365 to extend Office 365 and SharePoint into a mighty powerful workplace solution.
Almost all businesses use an intranet or similar tool as a central place to house their documents and collaborate. But an Office 365 intranet is a simple tool that provides much more. And given the additional features, capabilities, business benefits, and increased ROI, businesses and organizations are turning to an Office 365 intranet as their go-to workplace solution.
As such, here is your introduction to an Office 365 intranet and 7 key things you need to know.
1. It leverages Office 365 and SharePoint features to boost out-of-the-box functionality and usability
Although SharePoint and Office 365 have rich functionalities that can be used out-of-the-box, an intranet consolidates SharePoint and Office 365 capabilities together to create a dynamic, intuitive and super-useful environment. It drastically enhances the inherent features and also provide lots of new additional functionality.
An Office 365 intranet provides a consistent look and feel and functions as a website, communications channel, content library, team site, and a hub for other business applications. It can serve as an HR portal, project management tool, executive dashboard for business insights, product development workspace, operations and quality management tracker, and an IT savior. You can automate workflows, replace paper forms with electronic forms, organize and update documents, manage projects and tasks across departments, and access it on your mobile device.
2. It brings the power of Office 365 and SharePoint into a complete workplace solution
Office 365 offers a variety of productivity tools that businesses use for their various activities like email, information management, project management, communications, etc., but the information stored in each tool is kept separate with no easy way to see a unified view. For example, while managing a project, the tasks, forms, documents, contacts, and conversations are stored separately. Although all the information is available on Office 365, it is scattered in various tools.
An Office 365 Intranet integrates with Office 365 tools to bring in key functionality. For example,
- Outlook for email integration so you can get email notifications on important company and project news, upcoming task deadlines, document updates, approvals, and more
- One Drive – for your file storage
- Teams and Yammer – for project discussions and real-time team communication
- Planner – to supplement your Task Management dashboards
- Flow – to automate your manual forms and workflows
- Power BI – to make data and reports easy to digest and understand with graphs, visuals, and dashboards
So these Office 365 tools and functionality are integrated with an Office 365 intranet in one solution and in one unified experience, rather than using them as separate standalone tools. Also, an intranet turns office 365 and into a full workplace solution that can be used for more than just collaboration. Whether it is sending emails, document review, customer management, form submissions, publishing news, or suggesting a holiday party theme – it can all be done in an Office 365 intranet.
3. It integrates with existing business systems
An Office 365 intranet helps with streamlining processes, which in turn increases employee productivity. It does this by integrating with other business applications, by consolidating information and making everything available in one location, and by automating tasks and processes and thereby saving time.
An Office 365 intranet can be extended into a comprehensive intranet that helps manage other critical functions of your business like:
- Digitizing your paper Forms – use the capabilities of SharePoint and MS Flow to build custom forms – complete with routing and approval processes.
- Automating workflows – Use MS Flow for multi-stage workflows, like inventory updates, formula reviews for a manufacturing company, or general approvals from your manager or HR. This helps employees save time from doing time consuming manual tasks. You can also automate and bring in workflows from different systems, such as ERPs, CRMs, Sales and Finance, and so on.
- Integrating with other systems – An Office 365 intranet can bring O365 tools, external business solutions, and your Line of Business application – all on one platform. It becomes a one-stop-shop where information can be accessed and shared across systems which helps to reduce duplication and redundancies.
- Automating reports – Once you digitize data gathering through forms, and make sure your systems are integrated; then Power BI can be used to pull information from various databases and arrange it into visually stunning reports – which can be used for sales forecasting or to see the progress of projects, etc.
4. It directly and instantly connects to your office 365 environment
An Office 365 intranet is quick and easy to install and set up. You can think of it as a separate tool which when installed, connects instantly to your Office 365 and SharePoint environment, to give you all the added functions and features that we are discussing in this document.
Installation is simple and straightforward. A designated administrator/super-user can follow instructions to set up departments, create users and set permissions. As complexity is kept behind the scenes, there is no need to involve developers or IT personnel to do any complicated configurations and customizations.
Your Office 365 intranet can be up and running in a few days and you can start to enjoy the many benefits it offers.
5. It is cloud and web-based
With an Office 365 intranet, all the tools are in the cloud, which means it goes where you go – you can access it from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Your staff members can author documents, publish content, route their forms for approvals, track their tasks, update calendars, get reminders, and much more; using their desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.
Along with providing easy access and sharing capabilities, an intranet on Office 365 also keeps your data secure. In fact, it deploys security at multiple levels:
- At the infrastructure level, the Microsoft cloud is highly secure and meets all security protocols and standards.
- Office 365 Administration Center provides a Security and Compliance module which logs every action of a user and audit reports can be easily generated and reviewed.
- Office 365 also enables document and structured data protection by enabling permission levels at granular levels. You can customize it any way you want, which gives you the power to control who sees what.
Since an Office 365 intranet is cloud-based, product and security updates are applied automatically, and maintenance is taken care of by the vendor. This helps minimize IT overhead and increase cost effectiveness.
6. It is built for the future
An Office 365 intranet is flexible and scalable. As you grow you can create new departments, add more projects, documents, teams, set permissions based on your organization structure and add new employees as they are hired – so it can grow with you.
You can also add more functionality as your needs grow, and it can be customized to some of your specific needs. An Office 365 intranet is flexible in that in integrates with your Office 365 and SharePoint as well as your existing business systems and workflows.
Also, you continue to get regular product and security updates from your vendor and Microsoft as an Office 365 user so you continue to get new and updated features and there is little worry about your intranet becoming old and outdated.
7. It is cost effective
An Office 365 intranet, just like Office 365, is SaaS and subscription based and is typically priced per user and sometimes by feature set. As mentioned before an Office 365 intranet connects to your Office 365 so there is minimal time and effort to setup as well as maintain and continually update it as this is handled by the vendor. So you don’t need IT resources or skills to setup, maintain, or administer an Office 365 intranet. Rather it simplifies and minimizes your IT overhead.
Another cost saving factor of being on Office 365 is that you leverage and get more out of your existing Office 365 investment, rather than going with another, separate and costly solution.
An Office 365 intranet is truly a powerful and versatile tool particularly for businesses looking to improve the way they work and be more productive. An office 365 intranet delivers added functionality by way of built-in modules and features for common processes like Project Management, Forms Management, and HR and Employee Management; thus extending the basic intranet features and eliminating the need to invest in separate solutions that offer these capabilities.
So in sum, an Office 365 Intranet can be your go-to, comprehensive workplace solution that brings your business and Office 365 together in one place and in one unified experience.
If you like to understand how an Office 365 Intranet can benefit you, or you would like to extend your current Office 365 into a power business solution, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always ready to help.