Enterprise Intranets Build Or Buy

Enterprise Intranets: Build or Buy?

SharePoint-based custom intranet solutions have been available for a while; however, recently, the intranet market has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of out-of-the-box intranet solutions offered by different vendors.

While organizations must consider several factors before choosing between “build or buy,” the solution that delivers the maximum return on investment while offering the ability to adjust to the changes in the business environment is always the best bet.

So, what is an out-of-the-box intranet? Additionally, what are the considerations to look at before implementing an intranet solution? This blog aims to help you understand all this and much more and decide between build or buy.

What is an out-of-the-box intranet?

A custom intranet solution is like a blank canvas; it is built from scratch with all the functionalities, design, and app integrations the organization needs.

On the other hand, an out-of-the-box intranet comes with standard features like an employee directory, a document management system, social capabilities, such as blogs and messaging apps, a news feed, project workspaces, a company calendar, and much more, packed with some essential branding including company colors and logo.

While some people argue that a ready-made solution can never wholly fulfill an enterprise’s unique needs, there are many other factors to consider before organizations choose between a custom on-premise or an out-of-the-box intranet.

1. Time to implement

While it may take anywhere between 6 months to a year to build a custom intranet solution, usually 30-45 days are enough to implement an out-of-the-box solution, including analysis, installation, and user training. In an increasingly digitized post-covid world, delaying the launch of your intranet can prove detrimental to efficiency and overall revenue.

2. Involvement of IT

Out-of-the-box intranet solutions have their own R&D team and require little to no involvement from the internal IT team. In the case of a homegrown intranet solution, developers must have the proper knowledge and skills to address the company’s specific needs. At times, besides the IT team’s high involvement, potential outsourcing may be needed as developers may not have the required design and usability expertise.

3. Costing

A custom intranet solution requires constant support, development, modifications, and bug fixes on top of the high dependence on the IT team for deployment and roll-out.

As out-of-the-box solutions don’t need expensive customizations and software maintenance and upkeep is entirely the responsibility of the vendor, they are cheaper as compared to custom intranets.

4. Functionality

Advocates of custom intranets believe that such solutions bring more functionality as they are designed with the company’s specifications and employees’ needs in mind. On the other hand, out-of-the-box solutions provide limited relevant functionality and may not integrate with all existing enterprise applications.

However, that’s a thing of the past as modern intranet vendors offer flexible integrations with numerous work applications. Take the example of Mesh 3.0, our Employee Experience Platform. Mesh integrates with a host of everyday business apps, including SAP, Workday, Office 365, Expensify, etc.

Mesh’s features can also be customized to match the exact requirements of the customer. You can pick and choose the features you’d like to be included in your intranet platform.

5. Maintenance and upgrades

Out-of-the-box intranets come with 24X7 support, so organizations hardly face any unscheduled downtime. Moreover, they are entirely managed by the vendor, so frequent updates are a part of the deal.

On the flip side, custom intranets require continuous in-house or outsourced IT support and expertise due to lengthy implementation and the need for regular maintenance. Sometimes companies fail to devote the requisite resources to upgrade and improve the software.

6. Ability to scale

Both custom and out-of-the-box intranet solutions offer a scalable architecture and the flexibility to add an increasing number of users as the organization grows..

Additionally, out-of-the-box solutions are also offered as-a-service (called Intranet as-a-service), a subscription-based model wherein monthly intranet expenditure depends on the number of users. So, organizations can quickly scale up or even down if business circumstances change, making ready-made intranets more cost-friendly than custom solutions.

7. Vendor Experience

Building a new intranet platform involves a lot of work. Right from building the framework, creating advanced features, providing integrations to ensuring powerful design and UX, there are several things to consider.

With out of box intranet, the vendors already will be well experienced in building digital workplace platforms and know the optimal approach for designing and deploying an intranet.

8. Security

Both build and buy intranet solutions rank high on the level of data security. Developers arm the intranet with robust protection techniques like restricted access, two-factor and multi-factor authentication, etc.

9. On-the-go access

Readymade intranet solutions, by default, provide a mobile-responsive intranet app that lets employees collaborate and communicate even from outside the office.

On the other hand, enabling seamless cross-device optimization on custom intranets is comparatively tougher as it requires high development expertise.

To sum up!

As seen above, many factors go into deciding whether to implement a custom intranet or buy a ready-made solution. Organizations must weigh the pros and cons of each before determining between ‘build or buy.’

However, after careful consideration, if you choose to go for an out-of-the-box intranet, do have a look at Mesh 3.0, our Employee Experience Platform.

Mesh is built with the best of Microsoft technologies LUIS, Office Graph, MS natural language stack, and Azure Search Services.

Our out-of-the-box enterprise intranet solution can be deployed within a few weeks and has several advanced capabilities as follows –

  1. Azure cognitive enterprise search
  2. AI-driven content personalizers
  3. Knowledge mining
  4. Expertise finder
  5. Multilingual capabilities
  6. Internal communication tools
  7. Collaboration tools
  8. Mobile App and Teams App: Multiple channels for access

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our digital workplace consultants for a personalized consultation.