Company: Pinnacle Decision Systems Inc.
Revenues: $6 million
Web address: (employee site)
Site launch cost: $9,000
Current technology profile: Microsoft Windows NT, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Visual Interdev
Why we love it: This software company's staff site eases new employees in and lessens current workers' growing pains
Category of success: Utility

We've all had those first days on the job. No one knows where you're supposed to sit. You don't have a telephone extension. The HR department ran out of copies of the employee handbook last week. You're tempted to jump back into that revolving door before it stops moving.

No one has those kinds of days at Pinnacle Decision Systems, a 13-year-old consulting and software-development firm in Middletown, Conn. Before reporting for work, new hires receive a URL for the company's employee site, succinctly dubbed "HQ." In the comfort of their living rooms they can read up on policies and procedures to their hearts' content, study the company org chart, and even submit orders for their business cards, nameplates, and Pinnacle T-shirts. And if they're curious about their new colleagues, they can loiter for a few minutes in the virtual lounge, where employees swap personal news and recipes.

The HQ site is Pinnacle's way of easing the painful organizational stretch that comes with rapid expansion. The company's head count grew by about 40% in the past year, and more than half of the employees work at regional offices or client sites. "When we were small, people felt as though they working for Steve and John," says chief operating officer John T. Mulvaney, who founded Pinnacle with CEO Stephen R. Brown. "Now that we're larger, we've got different layers of management, and we've distributed the responsibilities. But a lot of people still want to feel like they're working for Steve and John, and they want to understand what's going on in other regions. That's what this Web site provides."

Although the HQ site functions like an intranet, employees access it over the Web. And they do so often: like all good intranets, HQ is the conduit through which most of Pinnacle's routine operations flow. All the company's forms -- from insurance applications to expense reports to procurement requests -- are on-line; employees fill out the forms and submit several of them over the site. That has reduced both the amount of paper Pinnacle gobbles and the number of picayune calls HR reps field. And, says Brown, now that HR folks are freed from many administrative tasks, they can concentrate on the important things, such as recruiting. The sales force, meanwhile, consults the site for Pinnacle's most recent marketing materials and an archive of responses to requests for proposals. And employees in all departments visit HQ to sign up for technical training sessions.