SharePoint has become the preferred platform to build an enterprise intranet because of its excellent configurational options. The system is mainly used for document management and storage, however SharePoint has evolved in a way that it became applicable as a full-blown private portal for organizations. Colleagues could now use SharePoint as a central place to exchange documents, communicate and collaborate with each other.
Custom SharePoint intranets have been around for years, and have found their way into many medium sized and large businesses. But with the advancement of the cloud, there is a new player on the market: the ready-to-go intranet.
In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of both systems. We will compare them on 5 critical success-factors: Deployment Speed, Cost, Productivity, Flexibility and finally Maintenance and Updates, so you can choose the best solution for your business.
Let’s look at deployment speed first. Here we have an easy winner. Involv takes less than one hour to install. On the other hand, a custom SharePoint intranet might take up to 6-9 months to install if you want all the functionality that is already available within Involv. A ready-to-go intranet needs fewer custom elements, so it takes much less time for obvious reasons. So as far as deployment speed goes, the ready-to-go intranet is a clear winner. If you need to rapidly deploy your intranet to start using it as soon as possible, then this is probably your best option.
The cost of a turnkey intranet solution is generally much lower. Previously, compelling organizational resources and manpower were needed to build an intranet. By choosing a ready-to-go solution, you can purchase the software, either as a one-time purchase or as a service with a monthly subscription. This means that your upfront costs will be much lower.
Although there are often ongoing license costs that you’d have avoided if you had paid for the customization, this fee will be flexible, as it is simply based on your number of users. You will also save money and time in system maintenance, as you will not have to update or deal with any bugs yourself.
Another thing to consider is the time investment for both solutions. As an example, I want to share an estimate we made for a company with 700 employees:
Total investment: Between €60.000 and €100.000, depending on the expectations.
Total investment: €25.200 for licenses and €10.000 for customizations and training = €35.200
The motivation for choosing any intranet solution is obvious: increased productivity and efficiency. You want your staff to have easy and secure access to the shared information that they need to do their daily jobs. You want your employees to embrace innovative technology and effectively take full advantage of all that the intranet solution have to offer.
By choosing a ready-to-go solution, you are choosing a product that has been built according the demands and specifications of a whole range of other businesses. The advantage of turnkey intranets is that they have been tried and tested by thousands of users. User friendliness and speed of user adoption is of course one of the demands that any business has. By choosing a ready-to-go intranet, you know you will not have to waste time adapting and getting to know the technology, instead you can focus on your core business. Your employees will adopt the technology faster, requiring less time for specific training.
This is one domain where a custom SharePoint intranet do scores best. Ready-to-go intranet solutions are proven tools that suit most businesses. Of course, they have not been developed specifically for yours. For example, you can adjust the styling to your company colors and add your own logo, but the fundamental layout and look is hard to change.
A fully customized intranet can have its benefits; however, you must consider that it will require more time, effort and money spent to assure that your system can keep up with the requirements of developing industries and evolving software.
Winner: Custom intranet
Choosing a turnkey intranet means choosing intranet as a service. It means you pay for the total package. Your intranet is (mostly) hosted in the cloud and it will be maintained and updated automatically. On the other hand, custom SharePoint intranets must be maintained and updated by staff on site, meaning your employees or hired specialists will have to keep up with updates and maintenance. We often see outdated systems due to lack of innovation. Caution is advised; deciding to upgrade to a newer SharePoint version could lead all customizations to break.
The choice is yours. As a business owner, you need to choose the right system that fulfils your specific needs. You must balance the pros and cons, in system efficiency, as well as in time/money spent. A ready-to-go intranet can offer your business certain advantages, including increased speed, increased staff adoption, reduced costs and less time and money spent on maintenance. So, for many businesses it is the right choice.
That’s why, after assessing the SharePoint intranet market, experts predict that within the next 1-2 years the focus will move from mainly customized solutions, to out-of-the-box solutions being used by 80-90% of organizations. Why? For the simple reason that, still in its infancy, out-of-the-box solutions meet 80-100% of enterprise business demands.
“Involv meets the most common business requirements and some other pretty cool features you might not had considered yet”.
Tim Bogemans – Involv
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