Professional services firms have an ever-increasing need for technology to support productive communication and collaboration, effective project management, retaining knowledge and intellectual property, and secure data access. This is an overwhelming task. In the past, the most successful firms used Intranet technologies to centralize access to disparate systems supporting these needs. While different platforms all had their strengths they typically focused on either communications or document management, failing to provide adequate solutions across both areas.
Today, many firms are adopting Microsoft 365 to satisfy their project and knowledge management needs. However, small to mid-size firms continue to struggle to take advantage of all built-in capabilities while balancing their communications and collaboration needs.
Fortunately, experienced Office 365/SharePoint/Intranet solution providers have responded to the need of these organizations by creating “Intranet-as-a-Service” solutions. A combination of best practices bundled together to not only reduce implementation cost and time, but to also adapt to the ever-changing technology landscape and needs of professional service firms.
“Intranet-as-a-Service” solutions create both the communication hub and collaboration governance across Office 365 that firms need to balance communication and collaboration.
Professional services firms (like Withum) are driven to serve their clients on projects or jobs, where value is created by the people and repeatable processes that create differentiation. While there is typically recognition that building culture and unifying work product behind an Intranet will impact a firm’s productivity and effectiveness, budget usually falls to more tangible Microsoft 365 deployment solutions.
In this case, an ‘Intranet-as-a-Service’ creates a much quicker return-on-investment than designing and building an expensive custom solution.
While the exact services delivered across clients and individual projects or jobs may vary, professional services firms strive to build repeatable processes. Even if your firm is solely using Microsoft 365 there are many different ways to organize a project or job, manage documents, track status and share information internally and externally. Without a single process to work from, employees develop workarounds and resort to using non-approved systems.
Instead of relying on IT or a project manager to configure the supporting technology, an “Intranet-as-a-Service” provides a template to create a repeatable process.
SharePoint, Jive and WordPress have some great search capabilities, but junior employees to the most senior partners still waste time searching for, or worse, rebuilding documents from former projects or jobs. Also, building a team via email “Do you know anyone who speaks Chinese and can….” Is not the most effective use of the partner, nor the readers’ times.
Filling a gap in the Office 365 capabilities, “Intranet-as-a-Service” solutions provide a way to categorize documents and employees’ skills for users to be able to quickly find the right resource.
At many firms, Information Technology (IT) teams are asking for more personnel to support partners and employees. While Microsoft 365 reduces the maintenance of on-premises equipment and is beginning to centralize the management of desktop and cloud solutions into one location, most internal IT teams don’t have the time to focus on developing solutions for deep communication and collaboration capabilities.
Built by experts in Microsoft 365, User Experience, and Adoption, “Intranet-as-a-Service” solutions provide streamlined communication and collaboration management.
It’s not just the IT team that is stretched thin in many Professional Services firms. Marketing/Communications are asked to wear many hats, and the maintenance of the internal Intranet is usually the first thing to suffer. Without constant updates and nurturing of content employees lose trust and never return. Even when an employee sees the Intranet in a browser each day, it doesn’t mean that they are interacting with the content.
Taking into consideration all of the pieces of Microsoft 365, an “Intranet-as-a-Service” solution aggregates content from employees’ everyday work and doesn’t solely rely on marketing/communications to build engaging and trustworthy content.
These are only some of the reasons we see when Professional Services firms adopt “Intranet-as-a-Service” solutions to balance communications and collaboration within their Microsoft 365 intranets. Overall, it allows you to rapidly deploy centralized communication while creating governance around the collaboration within and across teams. These projects reduce the burden on internal firm IT teams and increase the productivity of employees, removing technology as a barrier of getting work done.