Can Microsoft Teams Replace Your Intranet?

There has been talk over the past one to two years that Microsoft Teams is the new intranet. But what does that really mean? If you are currently using MS Teams but don’t have a company intranet, you might understand why this is being talked about. Maybe you haven’t felt the need for an intranet at this point.

But for those of you with a dedicated intranet, you may think saying that Microsoft Teams is the new intranet is not really a logical statement (even if you use and generally like Teams).

We’re here to get to the bottom of this. In this blog, we’ll discuss this topic from both sides sharing why you could replace your intranet with Microsoft Teams, features of an intranet Teams can handle, as well as the disadvantages of using Teams instead of an intranet.

But first…

Why is an Intranet Valuable?

Modern intranets have come a long way. Many organizations would complain that their intranet was just a glorified file sharing system. But since then, intranets have become so much more. Especially when it comes to internal communications. There is no better tool than an intranet to effectively communicate important company announcements in one central location.

This has resulted in a huge reduction of the dreaded ‘all staff’ emails being sent, and in some cases, intranets have replaced them entirely. And staff manage to stay on the same page, regardless of whether they work from home, the office, or in another region.

Intranets are also superior document management systems. They offer great tools for storing documents, sharing files, version control and search capabilities. With most intranets, you get the ability to work collaboratively on files. While Microsoft Teams does some of that, there is always the risk of outdated files being accessed or the potential for content to get lost in certain Teams.

In addition, intranets have workflows that make essential day-to-day business operations, such as human resources and employee onboarding much easier to handle. This ensures that new hires from across the organization have the same onboarding and training experience.

Ultimately, your intranet becomes the go-to resource for any and all things related to internal communications.

The Evolution of Microsoft Teams

So, why has Microsoft Teams suddenly become considered a replacement for the intranet? It’s due, in part, to the huge spike in usage that Microsoft Teams has recently had, which is a direct result of the pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, many organizations had to go completely remote. At that time, many organizations had employees that had never worked remotely. So they were tasked with finding an internal communications tool — and they had to find one fast.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, MS Teams had around 32 million users. Today, they are measuring at over 145 million users. For those organizations that were already using Teams, their usage only increased during this time.

It should come as no surprise that when employees became remote full-time, Microsoft Teams became the go-to resource for internal communication, collaboration among team members, and hosting meetings. Microsoft took note of this and quickly began adding the ability for Teams to integrate with other popular workplace apps to provide a seamless work from home experience.

This had people wondering, “do we really still need our intranet?”.

If you’re using Teams, does this mean you no longer need an intranet? Let’s first explore why it potentially could.

Team meeting in boardroom

Why Microsoft Teams Could Work as an Intranet Alternative

It’s understandable that some organizations are considering replacing their intranet with Microsoft Teams. After all, MS Teams has some of the same core functionality as an intranet. For example, Teams enables users to communicate freely, collaborate on projects seamlessly, and share documents and files easily. Sound familiar?

Microsoft Teams continues to evolve and introduce third-party apps that provide even more functionality that makes it feel like an intranet. Additionally, employees are already using MS Teams to communicate, therefore sharing communications on a secondary channel (i.e., your intranet) may seem redundant. And having a file repository on both Teams and an intranet can get confusing.

Another thing to consider is how big your tech stack is currently. If you’re already using several different tools to achieve different things, having two internal comms tools (Teams and an intranet) could cause app overload.

With that being said, Microsoft Teams is still missing many key features a successful intranet has. Now let’s explore why Teams wouldn’t make a good intranet.

Man at desk having virtual conference call

The Disadvantages of using Microsoft Teams as an Intranet

The main reason Microsoft Teams may not become a true intranet alternative is that it doesn’t solve a lot of the core challenges your intranet does as it relates to the employee experience. These are the things you could be missing out on if you used Teams as an intranet alternative:

1. No branding in Microsoft Teams

Intranets have become part of your corporate culture and brand. When employees use your intranet, it should be obvious that it’s your company’s through the branding, look, and feel. All intranets can be customized to accommodate company branding.

However, Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer the same tailoring. You can’t change the themes or colors to match your brand, giving it that custom look and feel that an intranet has.

2. Lack of content management

Microsoft Teams lacks a content management system and publishing functionalities that are an imperative part of internal comms. Unlike with an intranet, you won’t be able to publish a news article, user-generated content, or create and send out company news blasts.

In addition, MS Teams doesn’t provide analytics to measure engagement, which is something the internal communications team relies on in order to launch initiatives.

3. Ineffective search functionality

For anyone that’s used Teams for trying to find a document or file, you know how challenging it can be. For example, if a user is looking for information about employee benefits, they can easily search for that keyword on the intranet, using filters to define their search even more and only have the most relevant results display. However, in Teams this is a much lengthier process. It involves potentially looking for an HR team channel and scrolling through endless conversations. Eventually, your user may give up and just have to ask someone directly for the info they seek.

Not only is the lack of search functionality in Teams a time-suck, but it can cause productivity to decrease as well as user satisfaction.

4. Poor user experience with no personalization

Your intranet gives you the ability to create personalized experiences for different users depending on their roles, regions or teams. For example, if your HR team needs to see what employee requests (such as time off) are pending, you can create a homepage specifically for them that makes this information easily accessible.

With Microsoft Teams, you don’t get that same ability for personalization. What one employee sees is what another sees, regardless of their location or role within the company.

5. Microsoft Teams offers ineffective governance

Governance is a huge part of successful content publishing. Content needs to be generated and managed to ensure pages are updated, accurate and relevant. Intranets have built-in publishing approvals as well as governance around the deletion and expiry of content, MS Teams doesn’t.

Without built-in quality control, employees will stop engaging with content because it will no longer be accurate. The risk of documents being published to Teams incorrectly is high because it doesn’t give the Internal Comms department the ability to establish ownership of content, create automated reminders to review content, decide who can and can’t publish content, and determine where content can be published.

A Better Solution: Integrate Your Intranet with Microsoft Teams

Based on this information, it’s safe to say that Microsoft Teams can’t replace your intranet. But it still has a very important role to play. Microsoft Teams has been proven to be one of the best business collaboration tools currently on the market. And as we’ve uncovered in this blog, your intranet is a powerful tool that encompasses all things internal comms, document management, branding, and more. So here is a better solution: integrate Teams with your intranet to fully reap the benefits of both.

group of men collaborating at office

Here are a few reasons you should integrate your intranet with Microsoft Teams, and some ideas on how to do so:

1. Increased productivity

We mentioned that good intranets make it easier for users to find what they are looking for, which isn’t as true with Teams. However, combining SharePoint with Teams gives you the best of both worlds! This is because each team in Microsoft Teams is given its own SharePoint site.

If you’re not using SharePoint for your intranet, you can still integrate it with Teams. Teams makes this easy by allowing you to create a new tab in a Team channel and add the Website App. From there, paste in a link to your intranet and voila.

2.Consistent brand presence

Other than being able to add your logo to Microsoft Teams, there isn’t any other customization you can do to change the look and feel. Unlike an intranet that you can fully customize to look like a virtual version of your headquarters.

However, there are some things you can do to try to make the look and feel of Teams more consistent with your intranet. For example, you can create a company news page inside MS Teams by creating a mirror page of your intranet on Teams. Since it’s a mirror of your own site, it will have your branding and the same look and feel.

3. Better employee engagement

An intranet is an excellent tool for top-down communication but can often lack the opportunity for bottom-up communication. Giving the end-user the ability to communicate directly to company leadership is essential for an organization to run smoothly. With the addition of Microsoft Teams to the intranet, your employees are given a platform through which to express their thoughts and ideas.

Microsoft Teams is excellent for two-way, colleague-to-colleague engagement. It can provide communication between employees at all levels within the organization as long as they are on the same channel or team.

To open up communication company-wide, you can create an org-wide team that includes every employee in the organization. This allows even the most junior employees to send messages that leaders can see.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft Teams will never be a true intranet alternative. There is definitely some overlap in functionality, but there is also a clear winner with other functionality areas. We recommend integrating both and going for a blended approach to take advantage of both. When used together, Microsoft Teams and your intranet are unstoppable. This is where Microsoft Viva comes in. Microsoft developed Viva to reimagine the digital workplace and the employee experience by bringing communications, insights, learning, and knowledge into an integrated experience delivered in Microsoft Teams, but powered by SharePoint. Klarinet Solutions can further improve your digital workplace performance with a much more sophisticated Microsoft Viva Solution. Contact us today to get advice from one of our digital workplace experts.

 

 

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