When a business is looking for an intranet package, there are normally two solutions—have a custom-made solution developed or purchase an off-the shelf solution. There are countless solutions that have cropped up over the years that promise great results, yet some of them have disappeared just as quickly as they emerged.
An intranet portal is very essential to the smooth running of large business organisations and medium sized businesses. There is no doubt that the modern workplace needs an effective intranet to function well.
So, what makes the best custom software and intranet software solution? Why should you choose one over the other? If you are like most people, you are probably torn between these two choices. What you need to know is that a number of factors can combine to favour one package over the other. This is another way of saying that the best intranet software is subjective rather than objective. In other words, our choice depends on your company’s unique needs.
How To Find The Best Intranet Solution
As far as we are concerned, every business has its own specific goals or needs; therefore, there is no such thing as one size fits it all. Before you make the big purchase decision, you need to know exactly what your business needs are.
Here are some tips for you to consider if you are in the market for intranet software for business:
What are your business goals?
Intranet software can be very expensive. Before migrating to a new intranet portal, it is important to identify key business goals that will benefit your organisation in terms of productivity. You will get a great deal of mileage simply by having a clear idea of what your business goals are even before you begin. For instance, you could be interested in increasing collaboration between your employees. In fact, that is the main reason why organisations seek to adopt intranet in the first place.
Here are other important productivity goals an organisation might be trying to meet with the adoption of intranet solutions.
- Creating a central hub — You need a central place where you can dispatch information, apps, internal news and directions, tools and documents sharing.
- Improve efficiency — You need your employees to access documents, information and interact with other employees to get work done quickly and efficiently.
- Strengthen employee bond — Intranet increases collaboration, hence, increases bonding. You could incorporate a company social media app and design it for real-time discussion.
- Increase motivation — Encouraging employees to air their grievances and commending their good work via intranet increases morale.
Having said that, choose an intranet software solution that best suits your needs.
Do you need on-premise or cloud intranet?
It is important to decide what type of intranet platform would be suitable for your kind of business. Many companies prefer cloud-based intranet because it guarantees security and uptime. For example, most of the Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft’s cloud-based intranet solution because there is a 99.9% uptime guarantee. On-premise solutions may be expensive in terms of costs and employee costs.
What is your budget?
Intranet platforms come in different cost-structures. For instance, a company can opt for an upfront cost which becomes the property of the company once the payment has been made or it could decide to go for a subscription-based model where license to use the platform is paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. Smaller and newer companies prefer a pay-as-you go model because it does not put too much strain on the available resources.
Consider your existing tools
Sometimes, the type of intranet platform you choose depends on what other tools you currently have. How will the platform work with tools like Office 365 or other Google Apps that are equally important to you? If you have very specific tools you would like to continue using, an off-the-shelf intranet solution might not be ideal.
Does your internal team have the capability and resources to customise your software?
Be realistic about your capabilities against what is required to run an intranet platform. Once you have purchased a bespoke intranet solution, can your team be able to support the platform? Remember, even if you purchase a perfect off-the-shelf or design a fully customised intranet software, you will still need your team to provide continual support and be able to improve the platform when your business expands or evolves.
Intranet Software Customisation VS. Ready-Made Solution
The decision of the customised vs. pre-built is not entirely straightforward. As alluded to above, you may need to carefully consider your organisation’s specific needs if you want to acquire a software that is not only robust but also one that solves your problems.
While most pre-built intranet solutions are relatively inexpensive, it is important to note that even the most sophisticated off-the-shelf will need some modifications in order to function properly. Sometimes, there is a need to change the base code such as branding the intranet with your logo or colours to help with internal marketing. You may also find the need to add navigation, widgets, social media apps and other custom entities.
Unfortunately, most off-the-shelf intranet solutions come with very limited window for customisation. Even if there is an allowance for modification, doing it within the boundaries and still achieve the exact intranet solution can add more costs assuming your team has the experience to do the customisation.
Therefore, it seems that custom intranet edges off-the-shelf solutions for several reasons:
Hackers, especially for open source software, can easily scrutinise off-the-shelf software. Pre-built software solutions normally come with many plugins and extensions that may increase system vulnerabilities. But, intranet has been created to be very secure because it contains highly sensitive information which must be confidential. We have seen many instances where company data is leaked and systems were compromised by malicious outsiders. With custom software, you can be assured that your code (and company information) is secure.
As discussed earlier, every software should be built with the unique needs of the company in mind. Remember, your intranet represent everything about your company. It should rhyme with every aspect of your organisation. The danger with outside solutions is that the software might look out of place in terms of branding, colours, user interface and content. Your intranet should actually bridge the gap between the physical distances among your employees as well as bring teams together in terms of culture and company philosophy. The other important thing to consider is integration. Your company probably has some tools it uses on a daily basis. You are not going to get rid of these tools simply because you bought a new intranet software. Custom intranet developers can save you the headache by integrating those tools into your platform.
Scalability is a very important concept of corporate intranet solutions. Most people forget the element of scalability when shopping for intranet solutions. An intranet solution that serves 50 employees today may develop issues and complications if the company grows to 1,000 employees. Also, think about your corporate structure when designing an intranet platform. What is the structure of your company? Do you have internal divisions and several teams? Do you have specific organisational challenges that need to be addressed? With off-the-shelf solutions, you may not be able to get this sorted.
If your company can afford it and you want to remain unique, why not just purchase a fully customised intranet solution. Your intranet is one of your most valuable asset. It can build engagement and emotional bond to your team, increase company value and increase efficiency. Hence, you are better off with full ownership rights.
The current trend in big companies is to go for bespoke intranet because it can tackle specific problems and preserve the identity of the company. Custom software is also increasingly being used to provide seamless project management tools, great user experience, communication and content management to increase productivity. Ultimately, the unique needs of the organisation determines what type of intranet solution that is best for you.