Build Your-Own Intranet

By Troy Dreier | Posted July 07, 2004
An intranet is a great way to provide information to employees across your company, but creating one typically involves more time, money and technical know-how than most small business owners have at their disposal. A company called Vialect offers Intranet 5, an extremely capable instant intranet application that provides everything you need to set up an online presence for delivering information and collaboration tools to your employees.

If you haven't heard of it, Vialect is a privately owned intranet software, engineering and consulting company based in Windsor, Ontario. The company has been in business for more than three years and has between 12 and 20 employees (depending on the workload and the season).

Vialect's Intranet is already known as a simple, effective product for companies that don't have a large IT staff to devote to development or maintenance. This latest release adds features (largely suggested by Vialect customers) that let employees use the company intranet more effectively.

Built to Suit
Chief among the improvements is a data manager application that lets you create any kind of customizable, online form to collect data, such as expense accounts, customer relationship management or inventory control forms. The interface lets you write the text, select input methods and then control who receives the data once it's submitted. Once you've collected all the data, you can view it online in an HTML page or export it to Excel.

An auto-notification option lets you know when changes or updates have been made to the intranet, and administrators can create notifications that go out when content has been created, modified, moved or routed. They can also create a different notification message for each action. Notification messages always contain a link back to the altered content.

The advanced search options in Intranet 5 let you search in a specified section, find items created by a certain user, search within a given timeframe and more. For companies that have a lot of content on their intranets, having this kind of directed search will save time by helping people find the information they need more quickly.

Brand it Yourself
You can easily customize the program's layout with your company logo and color scheme. The software's compatible with both Windows and Macintosh PCs and works with any browser. On the far left of the main page you'll find a list of shortcuts that your employees can customize for their individual work habits. To the right of that, another column offers the search tool and links to all the main sections of the intranet. From this column, you can go to your own personal page, a department page, or open a list of shared documents.


Vialect's Intranet 5
Building an intranet for your small business — it's possible with Vialect's Intranet 5.

Use the large window to the right of this column is a larger window for showing updated news or any other information your company would like to display. This window is tagged in basic HTML, so that even non-programmers can update it and keep it fresh.

You can buy Vialect Intranet 5 as a LAN version and host it on your company's server for a cost of $79 per seat — that includes one year of support and upgrades — or as an ASP solution hosted by Vialect at a cost of $12 per user per month.

Vialect intranet is a flexible, affordable way to provide an intranet for your company in minutes. If you're looking for a product that's as easy to maintain as it is to use, then look to Vialect.

Adapted from intranetjournal.com.

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