Should you DIY or Buy?

When deciding whether to build your own intranet or buy one, we'll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you make an informed decision. This includes considering technical needs, budget, and growth potential of your company.

Choosing an intranet strategy depends on several important factors, such as:

  • your organization's specific needs
  • available technical expertise
  • future growth plans
  • budget constraints
  • necessary security measures

Reviewing these factors will help you decide the best intranet option for your needs.

Deciding to build or buy an intranet is crucial as it greatly affects your business efficiency and employee motivation.

Assessing Your Company's Unique Needs

It's important to understand your company's specific needs when choosing between building an intranet or using a vendor's solution. Consider customization potential, user experience, and how well the intranet reflects your company's values. Building a custom intranet requires significant time, expertise, and resources, and involves costs like hiring consultants. On the other hand, pre-made intranets come with strong support and may be more cost-effective in the long run.

An intranet is more than just a tool; it represents your company's identity.

Technical Considerations: Expertise and Resources

When thinking about building an intranet, consider if you have the necessary technical skills and resources. If not, buying a solution might be more practical, despite potential challenges like IT staff changes and the need to customize features as your business grows.

Future-Proofing Your Digital Workplace

It's crucial to choose an intranet that can grow and adapt with your business to maintain a reliable digital workplace over time.

An outdated intranet can slow down your operations. Regular updates and modernization can boost employee engagement and improve business processes, benefiting your company's financial health.

The Pros and Cons of Homegrown Intranet Solutions

After reviewing key factors for choosing an intranet strategy, we can now look at the pros and cons of building an intranet ourselves.

Creating an intranet in-house offers benefits like custom design, features, and content that meet our specific needs. However, there are challenges to consider when deciding to build an intranet from scratch within our company.

Building a custom intranet requires a lot of resources, technical skills, and ongoing maintenance, which can be overwhelming for many organizations. This is different from ready-made solutions that provide extensive support, including customer communities, dedicated support teams, and beta testing opportunities. Considering the high costs of consultants and technical challenges, we need to think about whether it's worth investing in a custom intranet when ready-made solutions can meet our needs effectively.

Customization vs. Development Costs

A custom-built intranet allows for specific customization to fit unique needs, but it's important to consider ongoing development costs. These costs include:

  • Initial creation costs
  • Regular maintenance costs
  • Training costs for staff
  • Investments in necessary infrastructure
  • Possible changes in IT department staff

The C-suite often scrutinizes these ongoing costs closely during periods of digital transition.

Choosing an off-the-shelf cloud solution can help avoid unexpected costs that come with developing a custom system.

Data Sovereignty and Security

Building an intranet in-house offers great control over data security and privacy. By developing our own intranet, we can ensure:

  • Compliance with data security laws, including GDPR and ISO 27001 certification.
  • Empowerment of non-technical staff in managing content.
  • Meeting governance needs specific to each department.
  • Maintaining high security standards and regulatory compliance.

Exploring Vendor-Supplied Intranet Platforms

Many organizations choose vendor-supplied intranet platforms for their modern features, quick setup, and ongoing support. These solutions are ideal for those lacking the resources or expertise to build an intranet in-house. Choosing the right intranet platform is crucial to fully benefit from these external solutions.

Quick Deployment and Immediate Impact

Choosing a vendor-supplied intranet offers the benefit of fast deployment, leading to quicker positive impacts on business processes. Unlike the long process of building an intranet from scratch, which can take up to 18 months, a vendor-sourced solution can be set up in just 3 to 6 months. This quick start allows you to benefit from your intranet investment sooner and minimizes potential setbacks, optimizing your return on investment.

Cost-Effectiveness and Predictable Expenditure

Vendor intranets offer many benefits such as:

  • Quick setup
  • Affordable and predictable costs
  • Different pricing options to match your organization’s needs and budget.

These advantages lead to more predictable expenses, which is especially useful for larger companies looking to maximize their value and impact.

Integration and Working with Other Tools

When adding a new intranet, it’s important to consider how it will work with your existing tools and systems. Smooth integration can increase user adoption and improve workflows, boosting productivity and efficiency.

An updated intranet serves as a central hub for communication and collaboration, providing easy access to various business applications. However, integrating a new intranet with existing systems like HR software and project management tools can be challenging and requires careful planning to enhance efficiency and functionality.

Deciding: Build or Buy?

Choosing the best way to implement an intranet—building it yourself or buying one—depends on factors like your organization’s size, budget, technical expertise, and the importance of integration with existing systems. It’s crucial to evaluate these factors, identify key features needed, and set clear success metrics before making a decision.

Considering Long-Term Management and Responsibility

When choosing to develop or buy an intranet, consider who will maintain and manage it over time. Setting up clear governance and ownership roles can prevent resource wastage and ensure efficient management, whether it’s built in-house or bought.

The Importance of User Adoption and Experience

The success of an intranet depends on how well it is accepted and used by employees. Designing a user-friendly intranet can enhance accessibility, encourage participation, and increase usage.

A successful intranet connects all employees, fostering internal communication and improving organizational effectiveness.

Exploring the Intranet Market: Finding the Right Solution

With a good understanding of the factors involved in building or buying, you can effectively search the intranet market for the best solution for your company. Modern intranets offer a wide range of features to meet your needs.

Consider the trend towards employee super-apps, which offer a comprehensive alternative to traditional intranets and project management tools.

In short, choosing to create an intranet yourself or buy one depends on your organization's needs, technical skills, and growth plans. Each option has its pros and cons, which should be considered based on your specific situation.

Ishaan Gupta
Written by

Ishaan Gupta is a writer at Slite. He doom scrolls for research and geeks out on all things creativity. Send him nice Substack articles to be on his good side.

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