No business works in a vacuum. Most organizations rely on external engagement with a network of suppliers, contractors and other partners to operate successfully.
With the importance of digital workplaces growing during the pandemic, demand for extending those digital workplaces to external stakeholders has also grown. Our partners have told us that over the past 12 months, requests for extranets have gone from being relatively low to being commonplace and for good reason too.
According to a McKinsey & Company report on successful external engagement, high-performing companies are five times more likely to use digital tools to manage external engagement than other companies.
But once you have your extranet up and running, what do you need to have in place to ensure its success?
We’ve identified four things to consider when you’re starting out on your extranet journey.
1. Access and security
The beauty of using an extranet for external engagement is the enhanced security it offers. However, granting access to external users in a secure way can be time consuming.
Valo Entrance, is Valo’s access management tool built for modern SharePoint that sits alongside Valo Extranet. It simplifies the process by allowing you to grant access to individuals or entire organizations by using unique emails or whole company email domains.
Once the intended user has received their invitation, the process is simplified even further by allowing self-registration for external stakeholders, which can be managed via “Access Units” accessible from a central dashboard. These Access Units are also key for governance, which we’ll cover later.
Valo Entrance also uses Microsoft’s Azure AD security which makes it easier to share data and applications by automating and streamlining many time-consuming tasks.
As a result of the pandemic, we’ve become used to the onboarding process going online and the principle for onboarding external partners to encourage extranet adoption is much the same. Information is key to success and planning is vital.
Create a dedicated space in your extranet for onboarding, outlining how to use the extranet, it’s features and functionality. In addition, include information on policies such as health & safety, useful forms and an organization chart for each partner company.
We would also recommend having a dedicated point of contact for the extranet who can field enquiries, particularly at the start of the project or collaboration process.
As well as being a central hub for news and information sharing, extranets can be a useful space for document governance; making project management easier.
Organizations that had previously relied on email for sharing documents can access them centrally, making version-tracking easier and eliminating the need for requesting resends.
But how can you facilitate different access requirements without it becoming a hugely time-consuming process?
We mentioned Valo Entrance’s Access Units earlier in this blog in relation to granting users access to the wider extranet, but these Access Units can also be used to govern access within the extranet.
Access Unit managers can connect external users with any combination of specific content and resources via the easy-to-use dashboard. No coding required. You can set up as many Access Units as you like, allowing external access management for multiple projects.
And last but by no means least is content. The extranet is your opportunity to share news and updates about your project, including events and new starters.
It’s a good idea to assign someone in each area of the business to be responsible for the content in their area, making sure it is kept relevant and up to date.
At Valo, we use our extranet product for our “Partner Hub”, sharing sales and marketing information, demos and more detailed technical product information.
With Valo Extranet content is easy to publish with minimal involvement from IT. In addition, the customizable templates allow for a branded look and feel which helps team building.
So, do you feel ready to start out on your extranet journey? Why not have a look at our Customer Stories and see how other business have benefitted from using Valo Extranet for external engagement?
Or get in touch and book a demo. One of the team will be happy to show you around.