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Intranet FAQ

An Intranet is a solution that is designed to allow information to be shared and controlled within an organisation. Intranets range from the simple to the complex. From straightforward systems that centralise training or basic functionality through to more complex systems that include workflows and custom applications to help manage a business effectively and report on multiple data sources.

What is an Intranet used for?

An Intranet can be developed for a variety of purposes within an organisation.

The simplest intranets work as a central location for information. They are usually organised by department to provide staff with resources that they need to work. This might include training materials or day to day documentation.

An Intranet can also be developed to be a more complex tool that helps to organise how a business runs. Using a SharePoint intranet, you can extend the basic functionality of the platform to include applications such as a holiday booking system, or even put in place complex workflows that ensure consistency in how work is delivered.

Why do companies need an Intranet?

In larger organisations, an intranet is useful in ensuring that all teams can access the same information.

Controlling documents through an Intranet solution means that all staff can send consistent information to clients without the worry that different teams are using incorrect branding or sending out of date advice.

Intranets are also useful in ensuring that staff have access to the tools they need to work – a common example of an intranet application is a holiday booking system or an expenses claim tool that can be accessed quickly.

Intranets can reduce the amount of internal email sent to staff which contributes to better productivity.

Is SharePoint an Intranet?

SharePoint is a common platform from which to build an Intranet.

SharePoint works with other Microsoft Office products to enable collaboration which means that staff can usually access information from it and use it immediately in the appropriate software.

Is Microsoft Teams an Intranet?

Microsoft Teams is a tool for communication. It shares some features with an Intranet and is connected to SharePoint, however it is quite different to an intranet as information is not always available to all users in the same way as it would be when organised in an Intranet.

It’s possible to use Teams as an informal Intranet, but you would lack much of the functionality that helps with a true collaboration platform.

Where is an Intranet hosted?

If you are using SharePoint as the basis for your Intranet you have some choices which will determine the way in which it is hosted.

SharePoint Online is a cloud-based application that is connected to Office 365. As such, it is always hosted by Microsoft with very little needed to maintain it.

If you choose to use an on-premises version such as SharePoint 2019, you will need to deploy it in custom SharePoint hosting known as a “SharePoint Farm”.

A typical SharePoint farm requires several different servers to handle the application itself, search indexing, user accounts and the document storage. This can be done either in a cloud environment such as Microsoft Azure, or alternatively in a traditional data centre.

At the start of the SharePoint development process for an Intranet, your consultants should discuss the right solution for your needs based on the requirements that you have from your Intranet, and how it will be used.

Who can access information on an Intranet?

An intranet is usually only accessible to members of an organisation. If you are using SharePoint Online as the basis for your Intranet, then users can log in through their Microsoft Office 365 account and will be able to access information from anywhere.

If you are using an on-premises solution, then access may be more restricted depending on the security measures you put in place. Access to the intranet may only be available from a limited number of IP addresses which may mean that remote workers need to use a VPN to access information.

Security is a key component of a successful intranet, so ensuring that staff use best practices for their account passwords is important, and these should be updated regularly to protect data.

Can I access an Intranet without an internet connection?

If you choose an intranet using SharePoint 2019 and host it on a server that is within your business’ internal network, then your teams will be able to access information without an external internet connection.

If you use SharePoint Online, or choose to host SharePoint 2019 in a Microsoft Azure environment, then an internet connection will be required to access information.

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