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  • 5 Advantages Of Extranets That Will Inspire You To Start One Today

    on 15 January 2019

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    5 Advantages Of Extranets That Will Inspire You To Start One Today

    Collaborating with people outside your organisation can present a challenge. You want to impress your clients and solidify your relationships by keeping projects on track and communicating clearly. And you want to ensure you and your vendors are on the same page by providing up-to-date, accurate information.

    But how do you accomplish these goals with one solution? Enter the extranet.

    What is an extranet?

    An extranet is a controlled, private network that uses the internet for secure collaboration and information sharing among internal team members, as well as a company’s external contacts, such as customers, suppliers, partners, and other third parties. You can think of it like an extended intranet, as sometimes external parties access parts of the company’s intranet network through different authentication means, such as user IDs and passwords.

    Put simply, though, an extranet is a solution that enables you to collaborate and communicate with clients, vendors, and other third parties.

    The purpose of extranets is to enable the distribution and access of information to many people in a more efficient way than email. (Tweet this!) By creating a secure, online, centralized environment, invited members can easily store, share, and access the information they need anytime.

    There are numerous examples of extranet applications, including customer portals, distributor or partner portals, collaborative project workspaces, team workspaces, and so on. We explore a few of these, along with extranet advantages, below.

    Advantages Of Extranets In Business

    1. Information sharing is simple.

    Without a client extranet, you’re likely sharing files with outside parties via email. This leads to outdated document versions, large file attachments clogging up inboxes, and important information being lost or overlooked. It can also be time consuming and irritating to search for information buried deep in email threads.

    An extranet ensures all relevant information—including all versions of uploaded documents—is in one place. Add to that the indexability of a modern solution, and everyone finds what they need in a matter of seconds.

    2. Documents are safe and secure.

    Information is the lifeblood of any organisation. With an extranet, your important documents will be up to date and stored securely, typically with SSL encryption. A robust extranet can provide access control, enabling you to limit access to certain areas and files. It can even provide an audit trail, letting you see which users have accessed files and when.

    3. Project management is easy.

    It’s simple for internal staff and third parties to collaborate within a modern extranet, including remote workers. Users can access the information and tools they need from any smartphone or mobile device, and work on common documents at their convenience.

    By taking advantage of the many collaboration tools within an extranet, you can avoid having endless meetings, making phone calls, or sending emails to keep all stakeholders up to date. (Tweet this!) You can upload, store, and edit documents; assign and manage tasks, organise calendars and conference calls; make announcements; start and contribute to discussions; and quickly gather group feedback.

    4. Setup and training require little to no IT involvement.

    While traditional extranet solutions were a pain to set up and maintain, modern versions don’t need IT assistance, specialized hardware, or technical knowledge. These extranets are typically cloud-based, meaning they practically maintain themselves. In addition, most are fairly intuitive, enabling users to quickly grasp how to get things done. The results are an easier-to-use platform and lower costs.

    Who needs the IT department? Get up and running with Glasscubes by yourself, quickly and painlessly. Start your free trial today.

    5. Professional branding makes a great impression.

    Modern extranets can be customised to your requirements, helping you project a positive, professional image to clients. Not only can you create a secure, online environment, but it can also be branded to appear as your organisation’s own collaboration solution.

    Extranet Examples

    1. Distribution networks

    For companies that sell products through a distribution network, it’s important to maintain clear communications with suppliers and distributors. For example, the company’s marketing department can use the extranet to update distributors on appropriate pricing, new product info, and more.

    2. Franchises

    Franchises have standardized processes, branding, and marketing approaches that must be communicated across numerous locations, usually spread across different cities, states, and even countries. Disseminating information to franchisees—including product information, handbooks, manuals, new marketing signage, advertising instructions, corporate news, compliance and legislation changes, food hygiene materials, health and safety guidelines, and more—can be a challenge without a centralized collaboration solution like an extranet.

    3. Governmental agencies

    Public service organisations often collaborate with one another. To facilitate cross-agency projects, they and need a way to disseminate and share news securely. Traditionally they use email, but an extranet provides the technical capability to make collaboration much easier and more efficient. For a practical example of this, check out how the Department for Work and Pensions uses Glasscubes’ extranet capabilities to efficiently communicate with over 380 local government agencies.

    4. Membership associations

    Associations and professional societies typically have an internal staff and hundreds to thousands of members; an extranet could be useful in numerous ways. Internally, staff can communicate about organisational matters, assign and complete tasks relating to member services, and update members on association news and changes. Externally, members can participate in discussion forums, interact with other members on social feeds, and contact internal staff regarding membership issues.

    5. Charities

    A common theme among charities is fundraising, which typically means putting together events and soliciting donors. These events take a lot of time and effort, and things can get lost in the shuffle of calls, orders, venue booking, catering, etc. An extranet with project management features can go a long way in ensuring events go as planned, so the organisers can focus more on getting the funds they need to help their cause and less on keeping up with tasks.

    6. Tax firms

    When the fiscal year is ending and tax time is on the horizon, tax firms are inundated with client requests and documents. Without a centralized client extranet, even small tax firms can be overwhelmed. These firms need a way to simplify information exchange with their clients; they also need a highly secure solution to ensure the safety of financial data.

    Communicate with clients securely and professionally using Glasscubes.

    Glasscubes is a secure, white-label extranet solution that enables you to impress clients while keeping communications and important information safe. Create a centralized dashboard and unlimited workspaces that are customizable with your branding. When your clients log on, they’ll always know for sure they’re in the right place.

    With Glasscubes, you can:

    • Collaborate and communicate with internal staff, clients, vendors, and other third parties all in one place.

    • Share and store files in a secure location. Even create approval workflows to ensure all relevant users have signed off on a document.

    • Keep track of all your projects by assigning tasks to different users and participating in threaded discussions.

    • Control access to everything from whole workspaces to individual files.

    Glasscubes employs SSL encryption to ensure that data transfers between you and our servers are secure, and we encrypt all data at rest. In addition, Glasscubes is accredited by UKAS with the ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security Management Systems certification and by IASME Consortium with the Cyber Essentials certification.

    Impress your clients with Glasscubes’ secure, collaborative extranet solution. Start your free trial today.

     


    Posted by Kevin Senior