Are you looking at an intranet template solution for your business? If the answer is yes, then this article is essential reading. As well as examining in detail what intranet templates are and how they work, we also look at the options available for setting one up. In fact, there are two main choices. The first is to build your own intranet template from scratch. And the second option is to subscribe to a SaaS or cloud-based intranet provider. Which decision you ultimately make will depend on the unique needs of your business, but there are a few factors that you should consider before diving in. This article will help you work through those factors so that you can make the best decision for your business. First though, let’s be clear about what intranet templates are and how they work.
Intranet Templates: What Are They And How Do They Work?
Basic intranet templates allow you to create a consistent look and feel for a corporate intranet. Coming complete with coding, a rudimentary design and basic graphics, intranet templates make the job of creating an intranet much easier as they can be customized to the exact requirements of your business. What’s more, the pre-built nature of the intranet template means that they are quick to set up and easy to deploy. Many companies are opting for intranet templates because of their flexibility and adaptability.
So, deploying an intranet template may be easy to do, but how do you go about setting one up? Well, there are two main choices: the do-it-yourself bespoke build or utilizing an off-the-shelf offering from a SaaS or cloud intranet provider. Let’s explore both options in more detail starting with the build your own intranet template.
The Cost of Building Yourself
If you plan to design your own intranet from the ground up, you need to have the skills necessary to handle this complex undertaking. While it can be done with a lot of Google searching and a heavy dose of determination, the end cost of that kind of undertaking may surprise you: building from scratch could cost as much as $40,000 to make it work. The financial bottom line isn’t the only cost, however. Implementing your new intranet program could take as much as 15 months if you try to do it on your own. In some businesses, or if you’re tackling other assignments and problems at the same time, it could take even longer! One European study found that, depending on the size of the company, the number of employees the intranet is expected to cover, and the complexity required of the intranet service, it could require between 20 and 200 full workdays to implement the new intranet.
And so, the bottom line is that building your own intranet represents a considerable investment of both time and resources and you need to be prepared and fully signed up to that in advance.
The Process of Developing Your Own Intranet
Creating your own intranet starts with developing a set of requirements. Those requirements will determine the entire shape of the intranet for your business: the information, data and tools it will offer, how many people it will be able to support, and how well it will grow and develop with your business. Many people who might have the technological expertise to help with the project may find that they don’t have the skills necessary to determine exactly what components are necessary across the business as a whole.
Next, you’ll need to find and engage a software company that will be able to meet your needs. There may be a lengthy interview process in order to determine whether or not a given company will adequately meet your requirements. Once you’ve chosen a company, you’ll have to wait for them to develop a product. Delays are fairly common, especially if you need to change your original template for some reason – including the possibility that your requirements are unclear or the software company has added something that you didn’t initially consider. There will also be a revisions process before your intranet is ready to launch. You’ll have to go through several trials before you can be sure that you’re ready to release the intranet to the company as a whole.
Building Your Own Intranet: The Challenges of Change
If you’ve chosen to create your own intranet from the ground up, you’re now handcuffed to the software company for any changes or additions to the existing structure. For example, if you want new features, need to increase the size of your intranet due to unforeseen growth within your organization, or you need to make changes to the way the intranet functions months or even years after launch, you have no choice but to go back to the original company. Your intranet will stand still from a growth perspective unless you pay for the privilege of additions.
Getting To The End Goal Quickly: SaaS/Cloud-Based Providers
Cloud-based/SaaS providers allow you to roll out your new intranet quickly. Because they come with an existing template, there’s no need to write code from scratch or to create a new product simply to fit the needs of your company. Because you aren’t starting from scratch, it will be much less expensive. Chances are the software company you’re considering will have many of the features you want. The possibility exists that you will have to compromise on a few features or accept some solutions that aren’t exactly what you had in mind and this is the necessary sacrifice of using an existing template instead of building from scratch. But you’ll also find that with some ingenuity, you can make the existing system work for you.
The Key To Choosing A SaaS Provider
If you’re looking for a SaaS provider for your intranet, the first thing you want to consider is your ability to customize the product to the unique needs of your business. Flexibility in your provider and the software on offer is vital. The best solutions will allow you to add template pages to develop your site, then customize the content with apps or modules. Your business isn’t like any other out there, and your needs won’t be the same either. Don’t assume that all solutions are created equal! While saving money with a SaaS solution is one key reason to go with an existing provider instead of building your own intranet from scratch, you shouldn’t compromise on your ability to customize the intranet to your business needs.
What You Need In A SaaS Provider
There are several characteristics of a strong intranet, and you will want to be sure that yours has them all. You need to be certain that the provider is implementing best practices across the board. Look into the flow, structure, and layout. Is the system easy to use? What’s the end user experience: not just for administrators, but also for the employees that are going to be using the system day in and day out? Remember, if the system is clunky, doesn’t flow well, or is slow to load, your employees will be less likely to use it and an intranet that isn’t being used defeats the entire purpose. Each time you consider a SaaS provider, ask to test drive the system with a free trial or a shared screen demo. Get several employees in your business to check it out, preferably from each level of the organization. That way you’ll get comprehensive feedback from a broad range of users within your business who may be utilizing the intranet in different ways. From the feedback supplied you’ll be able to gain an overview of the intranet’s workings that addresses the following questions. Does it fill the needs of everyone that it’s expected to serve? Does anyone have any complaints with the initial set up of the template? There’s only so much that customization can do for poor flow or a slow-loading system. You want your intranet to be able to support engaging user content, whether it’s text, video, graphics or photos that will interest your users throughout the lifetime of the system.
Where To Start
When you’re ready to decide where you’re going with your intranet, start by developing a plan. Ideally, you want to put together a site map that will define the structure of your intranet. Then, ask yourself how much customization you really need. Does your business have specific, unique needs that are unlike other businesses and which are unlikely to appear as part of a template? If not, you probably don’t need the customization of building an intranet from scratch. Think about what IT and development skills you’ll need to work with your intranet. If they aren’t part of your existing skill set, you’ll need to consider the IT support that’s available as part of your contract. Then, set it in motion!
Do It Yourself Or SaaS Cloud Provider: Which Is The Right Option For You?
Hopefully, this article will have given you a much clearer idea as to what intranet templates are all about and the options when it comes to setting one up. Which option is the right one for you will depend on a number of factors including the following.
Time available: Most companies are looking to set up an intranet template in response to a burning issue or pain point that is impacting on operations. It could be poor internal communications which in turn are negatively affecting employee engagement, or it might be a problem with departmental information silos stifling innovation and joint working. Whatever the issue may be, most companies are unwilling and unable to wait long periods of time before a solution is implemented.
As we’ve seen, developing a bespoke intranet solution takes time, sometimes a significant amount of time. Not all companies can afford the investment of time, let alone resources. By comparison, a SaaS or cloud-hosted intranet template is capable of fast deployment such that your intranet site could be up and running in a matter of hours.
Resources: The budget available will also be a major deciding factor. Do-it-yourself intranet templates are almost by definition labor and resource intensive which often makes them an expensive option. In addition, there are ongoing maintenance costs to be factored in as well as upgrades and revisions necessary because of changing operating environments.
With a SaaS or cloud intranet provider, there’s much greater cost certainty. Both usually charge a set monthly fee which encompasses a fixed number of users as well as data storage. It’s much easier then to accurately assess how much your intranet template will cost to set up and run on an ongoing basis. What’s more, there are no costs associated with extensive piloting and testing either – you’re intranet is already good to go.
Internal capacity: For some companies with an internal IT resource and readily available expertise and knowledge, developing an intranet template from scratch is a real possibility. For others, there simply aren’t the internal resources available and so these organizations end up having to engage an external consultant to help them set up an intranet template and that only adds even more to the cost.
A far more viable option for the vast majority of companies is the SaaS cloud model. Because all the complicated and involved programming work has been done for you in advance, the great beauty of this model is that no great technical expertise is required. In fact, even the office technophobe will confidently and competently be able to utilize the intranet template!
If you’re looking for an intranet template and are interested in trying out a SaaS cloud-hosted solution, then get in touch with us here at MyHub. We offer a no-obligation demo or a 14-day free trial so get in touch today and discover how easy setting up an intranet can be with our pre-built intranet templates.