How to Build an Internal Communication Software for Business
Internal communications are are vital for any business. When it’s just a small company of 2-10 people employees, standard or corporate messengers like Slack will do well. Yet, as you hire new employees and build a more branched structure, you’ll likely face the need to develop a company internal communication software.
You might need it because existing solutions don’t perfectly match your use case.
At this point, some may think that the communication problem is exaggerated. So is there actually a point to develop an intranet software for business? Let’s look at what stats tell us:
- 4 in 5 Americans consider team communication as a key factor in developing trust in the workplace & effective internal workflow (source);
- another study reveals that team members & single employees are about 5 times more likely to have high job enthusiasm and 21 times more likely to be committed to the company if they feel genuinely listened to by their managers (source);
- 85% of team members & single employees feel most motivated when they get regular updates on company news (meaning that company cares for employee engagement) (source).
“Ok, this is just chatter that has little connection to my KPIs and business metrics!” you may say, “I still see no point in building my own communication platform.”
However, such a product may directly influence your financial metrics:
|💰 How internal communications can influence your financial metrics:|
|Businesses with 100+ employees spend an average downtime of 17 hours each week handling not effective internal communication issues. This leads to an annual loss of about $530,000.||The U.S. loses between $483 billion to $605 billion in productivity because of disengaged team members & single employees.|
|Businesses with high employee engagement improved their income by 19% over 12 months.||Companies with high employee engagement in using collaboration tools show a 17% increase in their productivity.|
Thus, in this guide we’ll focus on how tomake an internal communications tool to improve employee engagement & team communication. How can you make it successful right from the start? Ask yourself the right questions!
✅ Top 4 Questions to Ask Before You Develop an Internal Communication platform
Setting the right requirements to the future collaboration and communication tool is helpful in many ways.
First, it will help you to make up an exact list of best internal communication tool features for your use case to include. Thus, you will neither accidentally miss something important nor include the feature you don't really need.
Second, it will let you more or less accurately estimate the costs to build an internal company communication platform. And define its place in your overall budget.
To set these requirements, you'll need to ask yourself a few questions. Here they are.
# 1: What are your company needs regarding internal communications tools?
One of the top reasons to create a platform for internal communication is because you can perfectly tailor it to your business needs. Something you can hardly do with existing tools.
To understand what your needs are, split them into 3 parts — who, what and how.
- Who: who will use the platform? Is the entire company going to use internal communication tools or just some specific departments?
- What & How: how these employees should use it? Do you need it as collaboration tools? Or as a communication platform to be used within departments & its employees only?
For example, it may turn out that you need a project management tool like Basecamp for a few departments to share information. Or a group chat application like Slack for the whole company to share news & stay connected at all times. Or even something more special like a communication tool for your board and top managers.
# 2: What do your employees want?
Your employees are the main stakeholders of internal organization communication platforms development. Thus, you should consider their interests and thoughts above all. They can provide you with insights on what really should be done for convenient internal communications.
For example, if they see the current collaboration routine such as planning and reporting as too time-consuming, that’s the hint on what you should focus in the first place.
The truth is that the best internal communication platform isn’t the one with the best code or the most modern interface. Best communication tools are the ones that most naturally and easily fit into processes your employees are already used to.
💡 The best application is the one that most naturally and easily fits into processes your staff is already used to.
Thus, ask your employees for their opinions on the following topics:
- What are the most time-consuming tasks in terms of communication and collaboration?
- What are the top problems that they face & need to be fixed for effective internal communication? For example, is it difficult to share files and find docs? Or are they really engaged with corporate emails?
- What current processes and tools do they consider convenient/inconvenient and what is their vision of the best internal communication tool possible?
- What processes and collaboration tools can be improved? How?
- Do they hack existing collaboration tools to do something that wasn’t initially planned but is quite convenient? If yes, what and how?
Also, don’t forget to test your internal communication tool with a few employees before launching it within the company.
# 3: What are your success metrics?
By setting clear KPIs you’ll get a better understanding of features that will help to achieve them.
At the highest level, key success metrics of effective internal communication tool can be divided into 3 categories:
|How employees interact with messages and are engaged in social and corporate communication activity.
For example: open, click, reply and other similar rates.
|How the platform influences behaviors, opinions and attitudes of your employees.
For example: level of trust, satisfaction, average response rate, etc.
|How internal communications boost productivity within the company and employees.
FFor example: how much time is saved due to improved internal communications in general; how faster the communication routine goes.
Obviously, the exact list of metrics will depend on your business needs.
# 4: Mobile app, web platform, or both?
Finally, decide on whether you’re building a mobile/web-only app or plan to cover both platforms for enabling internal communications.
This info is essential in terms of looking for a Tech Partner and making an accurate estimate
However, the main difference here relates to technical implementation as it’s possible to implement almost all the same features on both a web and mobile internal communication tool. In the further paragraphs, we’ll focus on the features itself (not their tech implementation) so you can consider them for both mobile and web platforms for company collaboration and communication.
But before that let’s take a look at the main benefits of internal communication tool development!
👍 Benefits of Having Internal Communication Tools on your Platform
Having your own communication platform may help your business in many ways. How exactly? Here are a few ideas.
- 🌎 Improve the Remote Experience for your Employees
The internal organization communication platform development didn’t pop up recently. However, the Coronavirus outbreak made it a top priority for many companies that had to quickly switch to remote work.
In this case, smooth internal communications are crucially important for your business. It not only helps to keep productivity high but also streamlines existing processes for the best effectiveness.
The same is true for companies that have been fully or partially working remotely for some time already.
- 📈 Boost Productivity
Of course, the main reason why businesses are willing to make an internal company communication software is that it helps employees stay more productive. The logic here is as simple as that:
Communication goes faster, easier and hassle-free -> your staff can spend more time on other important tasks
Having such a platform, businesses can be sure that their employees are up-to-date with relevant info and can easily find necessary documents. Such information can be easily accessed on any device, anytime, anywhere.
Internal communications can also include collaboration tools like shared workspaces or email inboxes that will provide brand new possibilities for your staff.
Automation is another way to boost productivity. For example, you can implement bots that will help to deal with routine tasks, freeing up time for your managers.
- ⚙️ Streamline Workflows
Business communication often involves multiple channels for different purposes. Сompanies build internal communication software to streamline these processes and eliminate the need to jump between different apps and platforms.
As a result, employees spend less time looking for needed info and get all the essential and personalized content in one place.
- 🤝 Promote Corporate Culture and Create Friendly Environment at Work
After all, it’s not only about productivity, efficiency and KPIs. Software for internal communication within an organization helps to create an open and friendly environment to share ideas & opinions, get to know your colleagues better and increase trust.
It’s also the place to spread the corporate culture. By posting announcements, holding online workshops, sharing corporate photos and honoring the staff you can boost motivation and satisfaction at workplaces.
Let’s see what features make up a good platform for communication within the company.
⚙️ Key Features to Make an Internal Company Communication Software
We’ve already mentioned that one of the top advantages of creating your own internal platform is that it will perfectly match your business needs.
Thus, the platform’s functionality will be also tailored. It makes the list of possible features quite large — from remote project management tools to video call functionality.
That’s why we decided to split them into 2 categories — the most popular and additional ones. Take a look!
This is the first step employees take in your application. Its purpose is quite simple yet important — to navigate new users and teams through the key features of the platform.
A key idea behind the Onboarding is to show what the main features are and how they can be used.
As you build a platform for employees to connect within your company it’s possible to implement the Onboarding process in a few different ways:
- As a short introductory video.
- As a set of screens with texts and images.
- As a few screenshots right from the app that show the key features.
You may also implement different Onboarding processes for different groups of users or teams — for example, for your board members and marketing team.
Sign Up + Profiles 🔐
Since software for internal communication within an organization isn’t based on anonymity, your employees should log in and identify themselves.
As a rule of thumb, the Sign Up Process isn’t that different from any other application — users should provide their phone number or email, preferably corporate. However, you may also empower your admins to create profiles manually if for some reason it seems like a better option for your company.
Except for that, users and teams should be able to fill in some personal information. The must-haves in business communication & such are name, photo, department, position, and contact details (email, Skype, mobile number, and others).
The Feed is usually a must-have feature for Businesses that develop internal communication platforms.
Actually, it acts as a Main or Home Screen for the users. Here employees can check all the latest info: announcements, updates, achievements, news on current projects, etc.
If you develop an internal communication platform for a large corporation, it’ll be useful to add a Filtering system, powered by machine learning. It will show the most relevant posts first, based on the users’ and teams’ departments and posts they usually react to.
At the same time leave the option to pin the most important, company-wide announcements so no one misses them.
One of the key communication issues that employees usually face is finding the right files. It relates to images, videos, documents, etc.
Having a Library of shared files will help your staff store everything in one place and quickly reach it when needed.
You may also create separate screens for corporate documentation like guidelines and instructions. Moreover, it’s possible to implement different levels of access to ensure that files are available to a certain group of users.
Can you create a platform for internal communication without the Chat feature? We can hardly imagine!
Instant messaging is a must-have part of any communication system. Moreover, it should work both ways:
- 1:1 direct instant messaging;
- group chats with different levels of permission.
Also, don’t forget about such an important feature as file sharing. The ability to quickly send documents and files is one of the obvious benefits of business instant messaging. Additionally, you can send these files to your internal or cloud based storage.
Usually, users are able either to attach files right from the device or share links to cloud documents.
Except for that, you may implement some additional functionality. For example:
- Video and audio calls.
- Voice messages.
- Text formatting — bold, italic, underline, lists, etc.
- Use of @ to ping an employee.
- Social network integration.
These features will provide your employees with an even better experience.
Event calendar 🗓
It may seem a bit unnecessary to build an internal communication software with a separate calendar when we have quite convenient Google Calendar or its analogs.
Yet, having a calendar within your corporate network will help to divide work from private matters. Also, your employees now won’t need to switch to other services, get distracted and lose in productivity.
Meeting Management Software 🤝
What part of your business is all around communication? Meetings!
Whether it’s an offline workshop or online conference, your internal communication platform can get it covered. What does it exactly include?
- Plan: setting an agenda, auto-scheduling to the calendar.
- Coordinate: time tracking, audio/text recording.
- Control: make tasks out of meeting results, provide consensus tools.
This functionality will ensure that your meetings are focused and fruitful.
Push Notifications for mobile devices and Desktop Notifications for PCs and laptops are essential to keep users always updated. Even if the app is in the background, they’ll still get alerts on new messages or announcements.
Admin controls 🖥
Finally, don’t forget to implement special control possibilities for your admins.
Those in charge of your software for internal communication within the organization should be able to do the following things:
- Add and remove users.
- Change their access levels.
- Add, delete, pin and unpin messages and announces.
- Manage shared files.
- Schedule common events or events for specific groups.
However, the list of features above isn’t exhaustive. We can also create a platform for internal communication with any functionality that is necessary for your business.
Let’s take a look at examples of such features!
📱 Extra Features for your Internal Company Communication Software
Video calls 📹
Video Conferencing is the feature we can hardly imagine business communication without. Nowadays it’s quite popular not only in companies with remote or traveling employees.
Such functionality also allows hosting online workshops, planning sessions or meeting with employees and customers, no matter where they’re physically located. Thus, it enables even international communications.
Except for standard 1-on-1 and group calls, you may also enhance the feature with recording and screen sharing.
Intranet (Internal Communication Tool) 🔒
This is not a feature but rather a technology that is quite often used during internal organization communication platforms development.
An intranet is a closed network that can be accessed only by the company’s employees. The intranet is based on the same technologies and standards as the Internet so you may think of it as a closed part of the web.
Such a solution helps to secure sensitive files and data since they will be protected from any external influence. This is especially relevant these days since data privacy is one of the top topics in digital. The concept has significantly evolved, getting more and more attention from all the sides — public, corporations and governments.
The intranet network can be accessed by your staff from anywhere, just like any website. That’s why it can be freely used by businesses with geographically distributed teams of employees.
Photo gallery 🖼
The Photo Gallery can be implemented either as a subcategory within the Library or a separate feature. Actually, it works like file sharing but regarding photos.
Yet, users or admins should be able not only to share pics but create albums dedicated to specific events. Thus, your staff will always have quick access to official corporate photos that cover such events like conferences, teambuildings, workshops and get-togethers.
Surveys | Polls 📊
To understand moods and opinions within the company on different topics, Surveys & Polls may work well.
Built-in survey tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey will help to make this process faster and easier for your HR team.
If you combine polling functionality with analytical tools, you’ll also be able to track changes in staff satisfaction, trust, relation between different departments or any other important metrics.
Moreover, you can have some sort of customer service but for your employees so they can address all issues regarding your company intranet social network.
Screen Sharing 🖥
Businesses often make internal company communication software with Screen Sharing functionality for employee communication. This is one of the key tools for demonstration, brainstorming, collaboration and discussion.
It’s true that the feature is the most often used during video calls. However, it can also introduce brand new collaboration possibilities.
Using the idea behind the Screen Sharing technology, you may create an open and editable shared workspace for your employees where they can join their efforts in real-time. For example, to work with tables, mind maps, designs, documents, etc.
Shared Inbox 📬
This feature introduces a collaborative space to jointly read and answer the emails. It helps to streamline all the email-related processes in the company for higher efficiency.
Businesses usually build software tools for internal corporate communication with this feature to cover the needs of their marketing and sales departments.
Push-To-Talk (PTT) Software 🗣
Implementation of the PTT functionality will turn mobile devices of your employees into walkie-talkies. Users just have to push the button on the screen and speak into their smartphone or tablet. The message will be instantly delivered and played on another team member’s device in real time.
It allows to quickly communicate without the need to type messages or call every time there’s something to say.
Modern technical capabilities also allow implementing such functionality for desktops as well.
The feature is the most popular in such industries as construction, logistics and manufacturing.
One of the top reasons to develop an internal communication software for business is because it helps to automate some routine interactions with the help of bots. For example:
- Planning and reporting can now not distract your managers as employees will report to the bot. Then it will transfer the structured information to you.
- Bots can extract information from other services like calendar or shared inbox. Thus, employees can get info on the next meeting or the topic of the last letter at the quickest time, without distracting anyone else.
Bots may also work as reminders, following up users to do some task or action.
Integrations for your Internal Communications Software 📲
Finally, it’s possible to integrate any other external service into your software for internal communication within the organization. For example, you may integrate Dropbox or Google Disc instead of building a shared file library or replace the internal project management tools with Jira integration.
It helps to perfectly tailor the communication platform to your business needs and existing processes.
💰 Costs to Make an Internal Company Communication Software
As always, we asked our developers to make an approximate estimate of development costs. Since we're estimating just a generic app the estimate isn't 100% accurate so your own project may be even cheaper or more expensive. Yet, that's what our developers've got:
So, it's likely to cost between $13-22,000 to create a platform for internal communication. Yet, this is the rough estimate so we recommend you contact us with the description of your project — our developvers will estimate this project for you!
We also aksed them to estimate extra features mentioned in this article:
|⚙️ Features||⏳ Min Hours||⏱ Max Hours|
|🤝 Meeting Management||80||150|
|🎥 Video calls||100||200|
|📊 Surveys | Polls||40||50|
|🖥 Screen Sharing||80||150|
|📨 Shared Inbox||80||120|
|🎙 Push-To-Talk (PTT) Software||60||80|
The price of each feature can be calculated as follows: number of hours x hourly rate.
To calculate approximate costs to make an internal company communication software we took an average for Eastern Europe rate of $45/hour.
As you could see, internal organization communication platforms development will provide your business with many benefits with increased productivity on top. It provides you with an opportunity to build a platform that perfectly matches your needs and existing processes — something that any existing solution can hardly offer.
The development process can be broken down into 3 steps:
Now it seems you’re all set. Any questions left? Or would you like to get a professional estimate and opinion on your project and see how we can help? Hit the button below and write to us, we’re waiting for it!