Shopping for internal communication software can be stressful. What channels, project management, and organizational tools do you really need? How far can you stretch the budget? And how do you find the best vendors to partner with? There is a lot to figure out. In this blog, we’ll talk about current trends in internal communication software, what categories of tools there are, and how to make informed purchasing decisions.
What is Internal Communication Software?
Internal communication software refers to the digital tools and platforms designed to facilitate effective communication and collaboration at a company. Internal comms software largely includes project management systems and communication channels.
Communication channels typically offer a range of features and functionalities, including:
- Messaging and Chat. Some channels, such as enterprise chat tools like Slack, give employees the ability to direct message colleagues to collaborate remotely.
- News and Announcements. Many channels will give you the ability to push out company news, updates, and announcements, ensuring that employees stay informed about important information.
- Document and File Sharing. You’ll want software that lets you share and store documents, files, and resources.
- Surveys. Internal communication software often includes tools for conducting employee surveys and gathering feedback, enabling you to more easily gauge employee sentiment and make data-driven decisions.
- Employee Directory. Certain solutions will include a directory of employee profiles, making it easier for employees to find and connect with colleagues or helpdesks.
- Event Calendars. Some channels allow you to invite employees to company events and remind them of important dates such as paydays and company holidays.
- Analytics and Reporting. IC software may offer analytics and reporting features to track communication metrics, measure engagement levels, and gain insights into the effectiveness of internal communication initiatives.
By using the right internal communication software, you can streamline your processes, break down silos, enhance employee engagement, and create a more connected and informed workforce. Let’s talk more about the different types of software you might want to invest in.
Types of Internal Communication Software
From editorial calendars, project management tools, and actual tools for communicating with staff, there are several solutions to consider.
- Project management. Whether you’re a small or a large communication team, some kind of project management tool will help you organize the vast amount of information you have to communicate and stay on top of. In large teams, project management software like Monday.com, Trello, or Jira can help you delegate work and streamline processes. But even on small teams, you can use this kind of tool to keep track of projects and deliverables, potentially even giving visibility into that workflow to other stakeholders.
- Team collaboration tools. Just like how you might have an enterprise chat solution like Slack for collaboration and real-time communication among office staff, we recommend using tools like this for collaborating on communications.
- Content planning software. One of the most important types of internal communication software is what you use to plan your content strategy. This can be as simple as an excel-based editorial calendar or it can be as complex as using a project management tool or software like Smartsheet.
- Internal communication channels. There are now a wide variety of internal communication tools to choose from, including employee intranets, mobile apps, email, digital signage, text messaging, and many more.
Traditional Comms Channels
When it comes to internal communication channels, there are several that have been around for awhile. This includes traditional channels like email, a company intranet, print and digital signage, and even regular mail.
|Regular, time-sensitive business updates (e.g. operations, HR communication, outage alerts, etc.)||Many deskless employees don’t have business email addresses. Multimedia limitations in the body of an email.||Corporate teams|
|Intranet||Business updates (less reliance on time sensitivity), storytelling, resource and general information hub.||Often blocked by a VPN impeding access for off-site employees. Requires creativity and frequent updates to be engaging.||Corporate teams|
|Print Signage||Primarily used to reinforce messages. Policy updates and to post legally required documentation.||No analytics. Printing costs. Requires someone on-site to put up and remove in a timely manner.||Frontline teams|
|Digital Signage||Often the same use as print signage, but with the ability to share more detail and more updates on one screen.||No analytics.||Frontline and corporate teams|
|Often reserved for Human Resources communications such as open enrollment and benefits information.||Antiquated in many ways, requires having an accurate database of addresses and time to send. No analytics. Printing costs.||All|
Emerging Comms Channels
While traditional comms channels are a staple of many internal communication strategies, emerging channels can help fill gaps that these channels leave for harder-to-reach, distributed and deskless workers. These channels include employee apps and SMS text messaging.
|Apps for Employees||Sharing real-time, targeted updates with employees who often don’t have access to email/intranets.
Boosting engagement by providing two-way communication opportunities.
Providing a mobile hub of resources.
|Requires employees to download onto their personal devices (see our BYOD and adoption tips).||Frontline + distributed workers|
|SMS Texts||Alerts and time-sensitive communications (e.g. crisis, deadlines, out of compliance messages).||Character limits for each text.
Many software providers offer limited texts (PRO TIP: we offer unlimited texts!)
|Frontline + distributed workers|
Evaluating Internal Comms Software
There is so much variety out there now for us to choose from, but this can make finding the right internal communication software difficult. Here are our top 5 tips for evaluating internal communication software:
- Identify your needs and goals. Clearly define your communication needs, pain points, and goals. Determine what you want to achieve with the software, whether it’s improving collaboration, streamlining communication processes, increasing employee engagement, or all of the above.
- Assess ease of use and user experience. Look for software that is intuitive and user-friendly, as it will be more readily adopted by employees. Consider the interface, navigation, and overall user experience to ensure a smooth and seamless communication process.
- Integration capabilities. Evaluate how well the software integrates with your existing systems, such as HR platforms, project management tools, or email systems. Seamless integration will enable smooth data flow and minimize manual work.
- Security and data privacy. Ensure that the software prioritizes data security and privacy, especially when handling sensitive employee information. Look for features like encryption, access controls, and compliance with relevant data protection regulations.
- Support and training. Consider the level of customer support provided by the software vendor, including training resources, documentation, and responsiveness to inquiries or technical issues. A reliable support system can ensure a smooth implementation and ongoing usage.
By focusing on these key factors, you can make an informed decision when evaluating internal communication software and choose a solution that aligns with your company’s needs and budget.
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