Gone are the old days when SharePoint was positioned as a platform to build whatever you want. Microsoft is continuously repositioning SharePoint within its Office 365 suite to focus on what SharePoint does best. Functionality like document management, robust permissions, and easily customizable SharePoint pages is Microsoft’s future focus for the platform. Microsoft has realized that these pieces of functionality help support one of the most common use cases for SharePoint, to build corporate intranets.
Many intranets have similar requirements, regardless of what industry the company is in. Every company needs functionality like document permissions, versioning, and avenues to disseminate news. These common SharePoint intranet requirements allow consultants to approach these types of project with a baseline functionality set in place.
Baseline SharePoint Intranet Requirements
Every corporate intranet starts and ends with its design. Corporations always require that the intranet be branded with their corporate colors, which means a theme needs to be created. Beyond the theme, SharePoint page templates are a great way to drive a common look and feel for the new intranet
- Microsoft provides a SharePoint theme generator which can be found here.
- Pages can be moved back and forth between SharePoint sites using Power Automate, instructions can be found here.
HR is usually the most common driver of corporate intranets as they usually need to be able to disseminate news and information quickly to a wide audience. Creating a site specifically for HR and understanding their requirements early will help drive the rest of the intranet requirements. A page dedicated to HR personnel and commonly used HR documentation is a good place to start gathering useful content that will drive employees to the intranet.
Events are another common use case in a SharePoint intranet as many companies have some kind of events for their employees happening on a regular basis. Whether its a corporate webinars, or general training sessions, embedding an events webpart on the home page of the intranet is useful to drive attendance.
Social Media Feeds
A social media presence can really help define a companies brand, and often corporations want that presence to be felt in an intranet as well. SharePoint provides a Twitter webpart out of the box but Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are left out of the native conversation even though Microsoft owns LinkedIn. You can still embed these feeds through either 3rd party webparts or by embedding straight from each respective site.
By providing a robust set of capabilities like versioning, approval workflows, and two-way syncing to your local computer, document management is where SharePoint shines. Documents can be stored in libraries based on any number of characteristics or use cases, and tagged with appropriate metadata to surface it via search. Document libraries can be added at the individual site level and they will by default pick up the permission levels of the site its hosted on. They can be further locked down to specific users if needed. For example, on a marketing site if one of the several document libraries needed to be locked down to just a management team it could be done by editing the permissions.
One of the most powerful SharePoint functionality sets is the ability to control governance on each individual item within SharePoint. Sites, pages, documents, and list items can all be locked down to individuals or groups based on the requirements. Anything that the user does not have explicit permission to view will not appear in search results, and Sharepoint webparts will surface different content based on the viewers permission level.
One of the biggest drivers in corporations deciding they need an intranet is the ability to post news. Usually on the home page of a SharePoint intranet, news is front and center through the Hero or News webparts. These webparts are a huge driver for users to return to the intranet to see what’s new in the company. In addition, SharePoint provides the ability to target news at certain employee segments based on either Active Directory or O365 groups.