Intranet for small/medium sized company

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  • Intranet for small/medium sized company
  • toby1
    Member

    Given the demographic, could you please tell me what you use, what works and doesn’t work for you. Including horror stories (I’ve used both yammer and facebook at work in the past). Doesn’t have to be the specific tool, just an idea of what are good features and bad features.

    We use slack, but it’s too temporal and not a knowledge base. We use google docs, but it’s a document repository and not very ‘open’. We would like something in the middle ground that allows us to store and share knowledge.

    So it’s likely to be cloud based, for about 120 today and potentially 200-250 in the next 2 years.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit
    Subscriber

    One of the things we use is Box.

    It’s great for hiding documents. No-one will *ever* find it in there.

    We also use Confluence. It’s better than Box.

    Markdown documents in gitlab works pretty well if you’re OK with using git.

    toby1
    Member

    Thanks oldnpastit – Box is exactly what I am looking to avoid, git is widely used here too, but not everyone is has a git ‘seat’ and I want this to be available to all.

    We love Teams. We were held back a bit by not having granular privacy control of channels so had too many fragmented teams and because of that people couldn’t find the files or channels easily that were relevant to them, but now that’s fixed.

    Great for sharing documents, using it as a repository (it’s SharePoint really), great for collaboration and it is evolving quickly and already has good integrations with non-MS product.

    It’s a great piece of software, and is now 90% of internal comms, I only wish they’d hurry up and integrate To-do (Wunderlist replacement).

    Premier Icon Sir HC
    Subscriber

    Confluence was good, used it at the last place.

    -Document control
    -Minutes
    -Task lists & tracking

    Pretty easy to use and its cheap, very customisable as well.

    toby1
    Member

    Thanks, I’m a fan of confluence if used (by the people who need to contribute to it) properly.

    Teams is probably too MS for here, we don’t even have any windows machines (all linux and Mac).

    bensales
    Member

    You know that thread about business analysts? You need one of them.

    Because this thread is full of all sorts of suggestions for software and tools, but you haven’t clearly articulated what problems your new intranet is trying to solve. Without that, all these suggestions are meaningless.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    you haven’t clearly articulated what problems your new intranet is trying to solve. Without that, all these suggestions are meaningless.

    Pretty much what I was going to say. An “intranet” is a catch-all term, you might as well ask “I need a web site.” What problems are you trying to solve exactly?

    I mean, we’ve used SharePoint as a ‘knowledge base’ of sorts since the late Jurassic. As part of a bigger migration to Office 365 we’ve just moved to Teams from S4B for UC, and I’m pushing hard for people to start using OneDrive for personal documents and sharing rather than emailing 57 slightly different versions of the same document back and forth. This seems to be working for us, whether it would work for you I couldn’t say. [EDIT: given that I’ve just seen you’re a Linux / Mac outfit, probably not at all.]

    Cletus
    Member

    One of my customers uses igloo intranet and they seem to quite like it.

    https://www.igloosoftware.com/

    toby1
    Member

    It’s true, I’m no BA. I’m not 100% sure of the problem I’m trying to solve to be honest. One problem is that things in documents aren’t easily discoverable (google drive search is ok-ish if you know exactly what you are looking for), mentally to me google drive is like a metal filing cabinet, things are in there, but lost unless they are stored in an orderly way.

    Common problems;

    We have quite regularly changing teams, how do you know who is in which team and what that team are currently working on.
    Where do you store useful stuff for new starters, both generic info and stuff more specific to certain job roles (i.e. the needs of someone processing invoices are not the same as an ML Engineer).
    Where do you share knowledge, research and ideas with people? I don’t expect new people to remember every post in slack that may or may not be relevant.
    The office manager is away, how do I do A, B, or X for that matter?

    The company was 90 people when I joined, is 120 currently and growing over the coming 1-2 years, so how do we put things in place now that help people joining in 6 months. While also minimising the admin for people who have been here for 2 years already.

    So I just want something that makes it all easy, and yes, while you are at it the moon on a stick would be ‘nice’ 😉 I appreciate you are all in different sized organisations at different levels of maturity, so I just wondered how many of you have yammer and find it poo and why, you guys have a wealth of experience, it’s your experiences I was interested in 🙂

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Subscriber

    Similar size and sharepoint online but it’s largely irrelevant.

    What makes it work now when it had failed before was a small team of people taking responsibility for working out what the key libraries were (eg. sales assets), figuring out things like where they differ across regions, who the owner/maintainer of these is, and getting that and other stuff into metadata/tags (eg. internal only vs able to be sent to customers). They did a lot of thinking about what stuff people were trying to find and how to funnel them down the right path. It needs to be the first place people go and that lets them find the latest authoritative version easily, if not everyone goes to hoarding their own little outdated library of stuff.

    Pick whatever the latest fancy solution is and leave it to become a dumping ground and it’s doomed to fail.

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Subscriber

    We used a customised Sharepoint solution which we didn’t think was very good, until we got bought out and we’re introduced to Easyshare, an overlay for SharePoint. I don’t know why someone thought it was a good idea to scroll sideways for intranet pages. And block out your whole desktop when something is opened. And make it bright pink. It’s nausea inducing.

    But SharePoint itself with just a bit of work is just fine.

    Toby, for everything you said, Teams is very good – if you haven’t looked at it just because it’s MS then maybe you should have a look. It’s a very, very good bit of software.

    We’re in a mixed W10/MacOS environment here for what it’s worth (although admittedly we are all on O365 licences) and I’m pretty certain there is a Teams client for Linux too.

    File repository, with folders, easy search by type or within messages; tabs within each teams for Wiki type pages; Teams/channels for all staff where you can put info for new starters (which experienced staff could hide the team or leave it if they feel it’s no longer relevant).

    I read this article earlier, thought it was interesting. Might help you see the boundaries of your problem?

    12 Remote Work Tools Buffer Can’t Live Without

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    We have quite regularly changing teams, how do you know who is in which team and what that team are currently working on.

    The company was 90 people when I joined, is 120 currently and growing over the coming 1-2 years, so how do we put things in place now that help people joining in 6 months.

    See, really, this is where MS excels. Your organisational data is covered off by Active Directory which is almost 20-years mature technology. Everything else, authentication, access control, team structure, presence information, email groups, all hangs off that.

    It does rather beg the question, how are you doing all this currently? What happens if you need to use someone else’s computer? Is it a case of “Dave’s off today and he has the Accounts laptop, so we’ll have to wait till he’s back in”? How are you controlling access to files between multiple users? Are you buying in Windows 10 PCs, flattening them and installing Linux?

    I’m operating on very little info here and I’ve no view of the bigger picture, but I do rather wonder whether what you need isn’t an Intranet, it’s an infrastructure manager. We were bought out a couple of years back by a company half our size and as I used to say to the people who complained about the sudden increase in process because they’d effectively just tripled in size, you simply cannot run something like Tesco in the same manner as a corner shop.

    disco_stu
    Member

    Teams client for Linux was released to public preview today

    Microsoft Teams is the first Office app for Linux

    Premier Icon Kamakazie
    Subscriber

    If you worked out an taxonomy to categorise the information, then anything capable of assigning metadata would act as a proper knowledge base.

    Even without the taxonomy, a decent metadata structure makes things significantly more discoverable and less prone to personal filing habits and or short term structures (like projects).

    poly
    Member

    We have quite regularly changing teams, how do you know who is in which team and what that team are currently working on.
    Where do you store useful stuff for new starters, both generic info and stuff more specific to certain job roles (i.e. the needs of someone processing invoices are not the same as an ML Engineer).
    Where do you share knowledge, research and ideas with people? I don’t expect new people to remember every post in slack that may or may not be relevant.
    The office manager is away, how do I do A, B, or X for that matter?

    It doesn’t matter which tool you use, people will still:

    • complain they can’t find anything
    • tell you the structure is illogical
    • not update things that change
    • use it as an excuse for poor comms – “well its in the Confluence documentation, I didn’t realise that everyone wasn’t checking it for changes every day”
    • write any notes / docs / instructions missing enough detail to be actually useful to a new arrival / successor
    • say, we couldn’t use that tool because only [Bob] knows how to/has privileges to create new project areas (or share with external stakeholders, or modify template, or change the workflow etc). So we created a new system

    Fixing those things is a cultural issue, not a tool. And if you are rapidly growing software company, then you may find your devs just doing WTF the like anyway!

    toby1
    Member

    It does rather beg the question, how are you doing all this currently?

    Google office, it’s a poor imitation of MS Office for sure.

    Fixing those things is a cultural issue, not a tool.

    A wise statement indeed.

    Thanks for all the comments folks, it’s all useful stuff to take into the process of deciding not just what we chose, but also how we manage and maintain the content too 🙂

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