Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Intranets Works

        Tech | Networking

Intranet Development
A team can develop a corporate intranet site.
A team can develop a corporate intranet site.
Sam Roberts/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When planning an intranet, the most important thing is that somebody needs to be in charge [source: Intranet Roadmap]. Depending on the organization's size, this could be one employee or a team of employees. This individual or intranet team will determine what content is published on the intranet and what technology will be used in the process.

Once the intranet team is assembled, they have to sit down and consider many important questions that will dictate the size, cost and functionality of the intranet. Here are some general considerations when planning an intranet:

  • Who is the intranet's primary audience? All employees? Or only certain departments?
  • What are the intranet's goals? Improved document access? Better collaboration? Cut down on printing costs?
  • How will the success of the Intranet be measured?
  • What types of documents and which corporate databases will need to be accessed?
  • What Web-based applications will be accessible from the intranet?
  • How will the site be structured? What will be on the homepage, the different main landing pages and sub-pages?
  • Will everyone be allowed to publish content to the intranet or only certain employees?
  • Who will be in charge of communicating editorial guidelines and maintaining editorial consistency?

[sources: Intranet Roadmap and HomeWorlds].

To get the intranet off the ground, the intranet team will have to address several technical considerations as well. Here are a few basic technical questions that need to be answered during the planning phase:

  • Who will be in charge of configuring and maintaining the Web server?
  • Will the server and network be administered by in-house information technology staff or by contractors?
  • What security precautions need to be in place (firewalls, security software) to limit access to the intranet?
  • How much network bandwidth will the intranet require? For example, will it host streaming audio and video, lots of graphics and photos, etc.?
  • How will new applications be tested before being added to the intranet?
  • What content management system (CMS) will be used to create and publish content?
  • How will employees be trained on the CMS?
  • Who will be the contact for technical issues/questions about the CMS?
  • How will the company back up intranet data? How does intranet data fit into the company's larger disaster recovery plan

[sources: Intranet Roadmap and Intranet Concepts].

After answering all of these important questions, the intranet team needs to come up with a proposed budget to be presented to the executives in charge. In larger organizations, these would be the chief technical officer (CTO) and/or chief information officer (CIO). Cost projections for the following items should be included in the intranet budget:

  • Web servers
  • People to administer servers (in-house or contractors)
  • Web development and design (in-house or contractors)
  • Content management system
  • Application development (software and personnel)
  • Security hardware and software
  • Long-term maintenance costs

[source: Intranet Roadmap].

Once the budget is approved, you're ready to set up your intranet. In the next section, we'll go over the technological basics of setting up a safe and effective intranet.