Build a Custom Intranet or Buy One Off the Shelf: What’s Best?

For over 12 years, we’ve been working on SharePoint-based intranet development. And for those who choose this collaborative solution, custom intranet construction was the most common alternative. Ready-made intranets, on the other hand, have recently evolved from content publishing solutions to full-fledged enterprise collaboration platforms. As a result, the market anticipates the emergence of off-the-shelf intranets.

In this post, some custom software developers from FortySeven examined both custom intranets and out-of-the-box intranets in-depth to assist you in making a good decision about which option is best for your firm.

Custom Vs. Ready-made Intranets: Factors to Consider

When deciding between a custom intranet and an off-the-shelf intranet, we’ve compiled a list of essential considerations. So you can see the advantages and disadvantages of each choice easily, we placed a winner for each factor first.

Implementation time

Intranets that are pre-built take far less time to set up than those that are created from scratch. A company’s intranet can usually be up and running in 30-45 days. Analyzing requirements, installing, configuring, integrating material, and educating users are all part of the implementation process.

Building an intranet typically takes 6 to 9 months. However, depending on the desired features (e.g., connectors, many complex workflows, branding, etc.), an intranet project might take anywhere from 3-6 months for a small business to up to 1-2 years for a large corporation. Needs analysis, customization, testing, and tuning are all stages in the implementation process.

Cost considerations

Because they don’t require costly customizations, pre-built intranets are less expensive than custom intranets.

Intranets that are built take more time and expertise to create. When developing a solution, developers consider a company’s specific requirements, which makes such an intranet costly. Custom intranets can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $250,000, depending on the specifications.

Functionality relevance

In this area, custom intranets win. A custom solution offers unique functionality because it is explicitly designed for a company’s demands (size, industry) and the social and business needs of its employees. Intranets like these don’t have many features; just the ones that are useful to the mobile app development company are included. In our interactive demo, you can view a sample of such an intranet.

Intranets that are pre-built have a limited range of functions. For example, they lack advanced analytics and search, which are crucial for custom software development companies, so you’ll have to rely on third-party software to address those gaps.

Accessibility

Many pre-built intranets allow distant workers to log in. In addition, most intranet-in-a-box systems come with mobile connectivity by default, making them ideal for working at any time and from any location.

Mobile-friendly intranets are also possible. Cross-device optimization for a bespoke intranet, on the other hand, necessitates a significant amount of development work: the IT infrastructure must enable remote access, and the user interface must be designed and developed appropriately.

Scalability

Custom intranets are built with a scalable architecture to ensure that users, content, and concurrent users grow, so performs the service. This creates space for the intranet to expand further, which is essential for both major corporations and small and medium-sized software development companies with expansion plans.

Ready-made intranets lack a scalable architecture, which can cause performance difficulties such as longer response times when the number of intranet users or workload grows.

Flexibility

Because of their extensive customizability, custom intranets are very adaptable. You can also integrate them with various enterprise applications, including ERP, CRM, BI, document management systems, asset management systems, and more.

The ability to customize ready-made solutions is minimal. If a corporation chooses to integrate a ready-to-go intranet with other custom software, one of the disadvantages is incompatibility concerns.

User adoption

Before being made available to consumers, ready-built intranets have undergone rigorous beta testing and improvement. They offer an easy-to-use UI that is straightforward and intuitive. They demand a minimal amount of training, facilitating and speeding up user adoption.

Custom intranets are frequently implemented into a company’s digital environment before they have been demonstrated to be effective by many users. Because of their complexity, they necessitate considerable user training as well as ongoing UI and UX optimization. Furthermore, the expansion of an intranet through iterative development necessitates additional time and effort for mastering new features.

Ownership

Only one person owns a custom intranet. A personalized intranet features distinct branding that sets it apart from the competition, promotes its values and goals, and encourages user participation. Branded intranet aids in developing corporate culture, which is crucial for international firms with several locations and teams located throughout the globe.

Many development companies employ ready-made intranet solutions. Furthermore, because ready-made intranets lack branding, they cannot serve as transmitters of corporate culture and a sense of belonging throughout the organization.

Maintenance

Ready-made intranets are completely managed and maintained by a vendor, ensuring they are kept up to date. Most pre-built intranet solutions include round-the-clock assistance, ensuring that there is virtually no unplanned downtime. Furthermore, a corporation does not require an inside workforce to administer such an intranet.

Custom intranet owners must either recruit in-house professionals or outsource maintenance and support. Furthermore, they require ongoing renovation by qualified IT specialists who add new intranet features, install security patches, correct issues, improve UI and UX, and more due to their protracted installation.

Security

Custom intranets ensure that a software development company’s data is secure since developers ensure that custom web components and apps are free of faults that could lead to security breaches throughout their installation. Furthermore, custom software development entails implementing strong security measures such as two-factor authentication on an intranet. As a result, for highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, specialized intranets are the ideal option.

Ready-made intranets are vulnerable to hacking, just like any other open-source software. They frequently use many plugins and extensions, which makes them more vulnerable to security breaches because plugin and extension developers aren’t usually security specialists.

You can find out more from Hanna Shnaider, one of our top IT experts.

Build or buy?

FortySeven47 IT professionals have outlined the benefits of both intranet alternatives and created a checklist with two question groups to assist you in deciding which is a great fit for your custom software agency.

If you respond yes to the following questions, you should buy an intranet out of the box:

Is your business a tiny one?

  • Do you require a functional intranet in a few weeks?
  • Do you want your staff to have the bare minimum of training before they can use an intranet effectively?
  • Is it necessary for your intranet to only include primary productivity and collaboration features?

If you respond yes to the following questions, building an intranet is your best option:

  • Do you have a small business that is rapidly expanding or a large corporation?
  • Do you want your intranet to be a reflection of your company’s brand?
  • Do you have multistep, cross-departmental, or other types of collaborative processes?
  • Do you require integrations with a variety of existing systems?
  • Are federal and state restrictions a part of your company?

Of course, there could be a mix of responses for either list. Furthermore, some aspects, such as implementation time and cost, are more critical than others. Not every software development company, for example, is willing to invest in lengthy and costly intranet creation. As a result, a corporation should assess its needs, prioritize them, and make the appropriate decision.

If the Custom Option Wins

If a custom intranet appears to be a better fit for your custom software development firm, contact any of the FortySeven software professionals to explore how a SharePoint intranet might help you reach your goals.

 

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