When it comes to intranet services, what’s the best option? Should you do it yourself or hire an intranet developer? If you have been charged with delivering your organization’s intranet, then no doubt you have been grappling with this question.
In this post, we will help you identify the answer that’s right for your business.
Every project has to work within different constraints that shape the way it is delivered. One of the best ways to model project constraints is the project management triangle, also known as the iron triangle.
So, let’s look at each point of the triangle and consider whether it’s best to do it yourself or hire an expert.
Time Is Precious
In every business, time is a precious commodity. The amount of time available is likely to be a significant constraint of your intranet deployment project. With that in mind, we recommend the most important first step is to define the objectives. A clear sense of purpose and direction will save you time in the long run.
For most businesses, the impetus behind the intranet is to resolve an identified pain point. For some, it’s improving internal communications or organizational knowledge management. And for others, it’s a need to increase employee engagement and create opportunities for collaboration.
Often the driving force is a business-driven outcome. For example, the intranet is introduced to reduce communication costs and streamline processes before launching your new product.
And how much time you have will, in turn, influence your decision to do it yourself or use an expert. The bottom line is that developing an intranet from scratch takes time. And this is especially so if you don’t have an internal IT resource.
Even if you use open-source software like WordPress to develop your do-it-yourself intranet, it’s still a labor-intensive process. Furthermore, the likes of WordPress and SharePoint were not designed for creating intranets. WordPress, for example, was initially created as a web development tool.
Technical know-how is needed to navigate your way through the many plugins and add-ons required to create your intranet. And this all takes time.
And when it comes to hosting your intranet onsite, don’t underestimate the time factor involved. In addition to taking up physical space in the workplace, maintaining a server takes time. That’s precious staff time that could be better spent on other tasks.
It may be that your business has an internal IT team that you could draw on to deploy the intranet. However, what if your IT team is fully committed to other projects for the next six months? The pain point the intranet was set to resolve will still be festering away in the background. In this context, engaging external help could be the way to go. An intranet developer means you can press ahead with introducing the intranet and start enjoying the benefits.
And if that all-important product launch is scheduled for three months, then using an intranet developer makes sense. External help will ensure the intranet is up and running in time to support the product launch.
However, if the timeframe is not so pressured and you have the internal resources, the do-it-yourself option is worth considering. For many businesses, the possibility of tailoring the intranet to meet their specific needs is very appealing.
People And Resources
For a successful intranet deployment, you need to have the right people and resources in place.
Do you have an in-house intranet expert? If you do, then great, you can probably press ahead with the do-it-yourself option. However, for many small businesses, this simply isn’t an option.
You wouldn’t dream of rewiring the electrics in the workplace without first engaging an electrician. Similarly, it makes sense to use the expertise of an intranet developer in getting your project off the ground.
The intranet developer has a wealth of knowledge and experience in developing and delivering intranets. And they bring specialist expertise in functionality and troubleshooting.
Most companies find setting up an intranet from scratch takes several months from start to finish. And even off-the-shelf options like WordPress require some technical knowledge and an investment of time.
Furthermore, do-it-yourself options also mean you are responsible for testing the software. Before your intranet can go live, you need to test it thoroughly with a group of employees. You want to be sure the tools and modules are fit for purpose. And you want to be sure the UX, site navigation and search function are pitched at the right level.
In our experience, any meaningful pilot has to run for at least six weeks. That gives you plenty of time to assess the platform in the workplace and obtain meaningful feedback. You will also need to allow time to make any changes to the software in light of the pilot.
It’s easy to see how the costs associated with a do-it-yourself implementation can quickly spiral out of control. And that’s without factoring in the number of employees who will be tied up in the implementation. Or the requirement for company servers to host the intranet and the expense of ongoing maintenance.
Often, a more efficient use of resources is to engage an intranet developer. They can save you time and help to keep the costs down. Experienced and knowledgeable intranet developers know all the potential pitfalls. They will ensure the requirements for your intranet project are appropriate for your business needs.
Furthermore, most intranet developers offer cloud-hosted solutions. This means you don’t have to worry about purchasing and maintaining additional company servers. That particular headache remains the responsibility of the hosting company.
Also taken care of is the whole issue of intranet security. With a do-it-yourself intranet, online security and safeguarding your confidential data is your responsibility. From encryption to firewalls and anti-virus protection, keeping on top of the latest threats and countermeasures is up to you.
However, select an intranet developer option, and online security, backups, and updates become their responsibility. Your intranet will be as safe and secure as possible with all the latest security features.
Furthermore, intranet developers usually offer pre-built and pre-tested intranet design templates. These already come with coding and a basic design. Using a straightforward setup wizard, you drag and drop content and images for a customized solution.
There are a variety of intranet templates you can select. Popular options include the following:
- Newsfeeds and blogs – keep everyone updated with critical company or team news.
- Staff directory – connect employees and facilitate collaboration with an online directory and engaging staff profiles.
- Automated forms – streamline businesses processes and approvals with digital forms and workflows.
- File and document storage – set up a secure document exchange were users can find company templates and files or work collaboratively on documents.
- Team chat – speed up decision-making and promote team spirit and company culture with instant messaging.
- Forums and project spaces – private workspaces where teams can share information and data, problem-solve, work collaboratively, or track progress on projects.
- Social intranet features – @mentions, activity walls, and sharing of updates among staff.
- Quizzes and surveys – whether formal or fun, ask employees’ views on the hot topics of the day and gain insights on what’s important to help with decision-making.
All you need to do is select the functionality your business needs. You then customize the templates with your branding and logo, plus content and images.
The intranet provider will have lots of other clients using the same basic design templates. However, customization means they are all different, and yours will be a unique platform.
It also means that you have access to the testimonies of other companies just like yours. You can check that the intranet does the job. And perhaps more importantly, that it does the job exceptionally well.
The bottom line is there are plenty of economies of scale to be had with an intranet developer. You will soon discover they have done all the hard work for you already, making for a smoother, hassle-free implementation.
A word of caution though, beware of using website developers to set up your intranet. Usually, website developers are not intranet experts. They may well be great at developing websites and apps, but they don’t always understand the intranet’s ins and outs. And they may not have a full grasp of the organizational pain points you are seeking to address.
Intranet Services And Value For Money
Making sure your intranet offers value for money is another constraint impacting your intranet project. Undoubtedly, there will be organizational pressure to ensure the intranet offers enough return on investment.
If you are going down the do-it-yourself route, make sure you have considered all the potential costs. And the expenses don’t just start and end with the software. There are plenty of hidden costs that you may not have fully appreciated. These include the following:
Employee training and development program to upskill staff on the new platform
- Cost of add-ons and plugins to ensure the functionality you require
- Development and testing of the pilot intranet
- Purchasing and maintaining additional company servers.
In comparison, an intranet developer and cloud solution offer greater cost certainty. Clear terms of engagement set out the roles and responsibilities of the intranet developer and the fees involved. Cloud hosting also works out to be very cost-effective with fixed monthly fees, unlimited numbers of users, and data storage. For small businesses, in particular, the cost certainty offered by intranet providers is a huge advantage.
No One-Size Solution
For many companies, employing an intranet expert to deliver the overall solution is an effective use of resources. It saves valuable time and with greater cost certainty, staying within budget becomes a whole lot easier.
Pre-built intranet design templates are now so easy to use that for many businesses, they are the perfect solution.
However, it’s a different story when trying to do it yourself. In this case, the lead-in can be several months. It’s also labor-intensive. Large numbers of employees could potentially be diverted from other critical tasks during development and implementation.
What’s more, the services of an intranet developer come at a very competitive price. This is an excellent option for time-poor businesses wanting a quick intranet deployment to meet an organizational pain point.
For companies with the will, resources, skilled personnel, and time on their side, a bespoke intranet can be a good choice.
However, if you are looking for an easy-to-implement intranet solution, then get in touch with us here at MyHub. Let us take on the stress and hassle of implementing your intranet.
We are the number one choice for hundreds of businesses of different sizes and various markets worldwide. Find out why with our free intranet demo or sign up for a no-obligation 14-day trial. Contact us today and get started on your intranet solution.