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Why Intranets Fail Reason #4: Build or buy your intranet to avoid deployment failure

Written by

Simpplr Research


February 7, 2019


The fourth reason why intranets fail is simply: deployments don’t get off the ground. Say you’ve scoped out your project, built a team of stakeholders, identified owners, and now you’re ready for the next step. Do you build your intranet? Or do you buy an intranet platform technology?

There are many considerations you need to take into account before making a decision that will impact your project long-term. It’s important to think about your resources carefully when determining whether you should “build” vs. “buy” an intranet.

Should I build or buy my intranet?

First, consider the time to a successful launch. According to research by Nielsen Norman, the average time it takes to deploy an intranet is 1.2 years!

It’s no wonder that most deployments aren’t successful!

The intranet software industry has emerged in three different buckets:

Homegrown, true build intranets

This scenario relies almost exclusively on your IT department because they are responsible for building your intranet from scratch in the absence of third-party software applications. This is how the intranet first started out over twenty years ago.


  • Complete control over building your intranet to meet complex or custom workflows
  • More suitable for organizations requiring higher security
  • Get all the features you want


  • Sucks up a considerable amount of time and resources
  • Heavy IT involvement
  • Most likely longer deployments
  • May have to hire a consultant for ongoing updates and maintenance

Configurable platform technology

This is a hybrid of building and buying an intranet. Think SharePoint, Google Sites, Confluence, and Salesforce Communities. This hybrid gives the buyer a configurable platform with room to customize the intranet with features or integrations that can be customized into another workplace or intranet solution.

SharePoint intranets should be considered configurable builds. The software can be used for many use cases, but the intranets use case requires considerable set-up and maintenance.


  • Quicker to deploy than true build
  • Good amount of customizations


  • Does not work out of the box
  • Dependency on IT or consultant to develop and manage the system
  • Requires a considerable amount of time and resources to build and maintain an intranet

Out-of-the-box intranet solution

Lastly, this type of software is purpose-built for most employee intranet use cases. It’s called out-of-the-box because, well because, it works out of the box. More importantly, it can be deployed in a matter of hours as opposed months needed for the other options mentioned above.


  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Launch much quicker
  • No IT dependency
  • Outsource support and maintenance


  • Limited to customized workflows
  • May lack specific features or capabilities

Start here to get your deployment off the ground

Intranet software is a huge investment. Your organization has different needs so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether to build or buy your intranet. When you begin your consideration and research phase, make sure you get representation and requirements from each team because you’ll need a core committee to ensure ongoing success.

Read our Governance Series: Forming your governance committee 101 to apply best practices before you take your next step.

Avoid intranet failure! Read our Why Intranet Fails blog series:

Why Intranets Fail Reason #1: The purpose isn’t clear or purposeful
Why Intranets Fail Reason #2: Unclear ownership and governance
Why Intranets Fail Reason #3: Executives aren’t engaged in the process
Why Intranets Fail Reason #5: The intranet gatekeeper’s approach
Why Intranets Fail Reason #6: Intranet becomes a content dumping ground
Why Intranets Fail Reason #7: Multiple sources of truth
Why Intranets Fail Reason #8: Users complain that content simply isn’t relevant
Why Intranets Fail Reason #9: Poor user interface and information architecture

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