The question on many companies’ lips is not whether to implement a modern intranet software platform – it is whether to build or buy intranet software.
In the age of the digital workplace, the use of corporate intranet platforms has become an essential component of success. To guarantee success in the marketplace, a company must ensure that their product stands out from the rest.
When considering the build or buy intranet problem, companies need to ask themselves some important questions.
Firstly, a company must determine whether they even have the skills in-house to develop and design the necessary intranet software to begin with.
The size and capability of the in-house development staff is a crucial determining factor in answering the build or buy problem. Indeed, a company that lacks sufficient resources to design and develop the intranet solution that they desire will likely struggle.
Designing an employee intranet portal requires vast amounts of expertise. Does the in-house tech team have the ability to pull off what is required?
If not, will experts need to be brought in to aid in the development process? Either way, this will significantly increase the time and cost of a custom intranet.
Engaging in a custom-build process requires much more time and money than buying a commercial, off-the-shelf product. If a company wants to implement an intranet software platform in a short space of time, without incurring unnecessarily high levels of investment, buying on the open market is the only way to go.
Potential pitfalls of building an intranet
Even if a company decides that the in-house team has the capabilities to carry out a custom-build, there can be unforeseen financial pitfalls in the development process.
In the UK, the NHS commissioned an Integrated Healthcare Records System in 2007, the largest ever civil IT product in history.
The initial budget of the product was £6.2 billion – however, after four years and an investment of over £11 billion, the project was scrapped. Besides lacking the necessary technical expertise to carry out the custom-build, the required functionality of the system was completely underestimated.
In place of the custom-build, the NHS decided to buy an off-the-shelf IT solution.
Typically, 67% of all software development projects are over time and over budget. This alone can be a deciding factor whether to build or buy intranet solutions.
A company must also ascertain the availability of a business intranet solution on the open market. If a ready-made platform already exists that fits the necessary requirements, it could be more cost-effective to buy that platform instead of building your own.
Rather than spending needless time and money building an intranet platform that is similar to products available on the open market, buying a commercial, off-the-shelf product (COTS) would be more efficient.
Define your intranet requirements
Similarly, it is important to determine if the necessary features of the required intranet software are unique, or if a product already exists that provides the desired intranet features and functionality. If such a platform does exist, buying becomes a more attractive proposition over building your own.
A company must also consider their timeline requirements. Is it important that the intranet software platform is available to use in a short amount of time?
Building software from scratch can be a lengthy process, with many unexpected roadblocks along the way. If it is necessary for the intranet software to be available as soon as possible, buying a platform that already exists would be a better option.
Many companies believe that a custom intranet is the only way to own an intranet software platform that provides all the necessary features and functionality.
But that is not the case. In certain cases, such as desktop productivity applications, operating systems and financial management software, off-the-shelf solutions provide all the capabilities that any company could wish for. Engaging in a custom-build process to provide a level of functionality that already exists on the open market is a waste of time and money.
In conclusion – is building an intranet worth it?
When considering whether to buy vs. build, it is essential to evaluate the adaptability, reliability, scalability, and usability of pre-existing software platforms. Is there a platform on the market that allows you the ability for full customisation? Is it possible to fully integrate the platform with the company software?
Does it offer an elevated level of reliability? If a pre-existing platform meets all these requirements, then buying instead of building becomes a more effective route for your company to follow.
Moreover, if an intranet software platform is already available on the market, and it is a core requirement of company operations, it is much more advantageous to license a ready-made platform.
Taking a large amount of time and money to design a system that is essential to the running of a company, when it could be acquired much cheaper and faster is entirely self-defeating.
Finally, a company must consider the long and short-term Intranet costs when deciding whether to buy or build. Building technology from scratch can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Unless a company has extremely specific needs from a platform, spending needless amounts of time and money investing in something they could get much cheaper and more quickly on the open market would be counter intuitive.
Finally, a company must consider the long and short-term costs when deciding whether to buy or build. Building technology from scratch can be a lengthy and expensive process. Unless a company has very specific needs from a platform, spending needless amounts of time and money investing in something they could get much cheaper and more quickly on the open market would be counter intuitive.