Intranet options: Should you build or buy?

Intranet options: Should you build or buy? Simpplr eBook recap
Traditional intranets, which were little more than content repositories, are dead. Modern companies need an equally modern intranet that provides flexible options capable of engaging an increasingly hybrid workforce. But should you build or buy this technologically sophisticated center of operations? We have tips and criteria that will help you decide!

The first step is understanding the options, which we’ve detailed in our two new ebooks. And we’ve answered the standard build vs. buy questions posed by both Enterprise and Commercial operations, and we have some highlights to share below!

Learning from earlier intranet mistakes

When creating something new, learning from predecessors’ mistakes is helpful. Fortunately, we have data to guide us.

We wanted to find out why intranets fail and asked nearly 1,000 practitioners an open-ended question to that effect. Our analysis revealed ten significant reasons, and at the head of the list, we heard from professionals from Comms, IT, and HR who said their intranet failed because it wasn’t purposeful. Other reasons included poor governance, lack of buy-in from leadership, subpar search options, and consistently outdated content. Read the full research findings in our ebook, Top 10 reasons intranets fail.

Complicating the issue, research done by Forrester found that the intranet is the least favorite application among employees, so user adoption will be an uphill battle.

Asian woman sitting on a bench near a modern building, checking intranet options

This points to a thorny problem that shouldn’t be left to one person or department to fix. It calls for decision-makers to come together and ask, “What do we need?” And then not “if” you need an intranet, but how to create it. Namely, should you build or buy?

The difference between building vs. buying an intranet

What is the difference between buying a purpose-built intranet and building one? The terminology can be confusing.

  • “Building” means creating an IT-configured solution for your enterprise needs. You make it from scratch and maintain it through internal resources. It’s a platform that can be created with your exact specifications based on the knowledge and experience of your internal team and is also managed by this same team.
  • Buying means purchasing a purpose-built intranet that isn’t explicitly designed for you but is designed with the needs of the modern organization in mind. And it comes complete with more options than you’ll probably use. It’s an out-of-the-box solution designed and managed by specialists, promising to handle all your unique needs—and keep pace with evolving technology.

To put a finer point on things:

Purpose-built is the “buy” option. It simply means that your intranet is procured from a provider who designed the solution based on experience and continuous research. It can be deployed out-of-the-box (OOTB), and the provider sticks around to maintain and provide regular updates as innovations happen. Providers typically do a great job of anticipating technological needs and keeping customer companies ahead of the curve. It’s their job to do so, after all!

Modern office internal communication

IT-configured is the “build” option, and it involves creating a solution that is uniquely yours from the ground up. The process starts by assessing your company’s requirements, and the solution is designed based on that. And it’s typically made in-house, with a specialist or team of IT experts in charge of the platform’s implementation and upkeep.

The decision isn’t easy.

How to decide which intranet option works best for your company

Each option is compelling for various reasons. Do you choose the option that gives an OOTB solution designed and managed by a company of specialists but not precisely specific to your current needs? Or do you go with the option created to your exact specifications today but may lag behind tomorrow?

The decision must be made by a cross-section of stakeholders from various departments. The ultimate adoption of your new modern intranet, regardless of how you decide to build it, will be doomed unless a governance committee calls the shots.

If one person at your company decides, or a single department makes the decision, you’re well on your way to creating a flawed system. Typical intranet purchasing processes reveal that an overwhelming majority of companies leave this decision to IT, leaving them accountable for the success or failure of the intranet, as well as the performance of other employee experience and general technology tools.

This isn’t fair, as a successful implementation requires joint decision-making between internal communications (IC), HR and IT, and executive leadership.

We’ll help you dig into this and other specific challenges in the ebooks:

Be sure to check out whichever ebook applies to your organization, as there’s a healthy dose of what to watch out for as you progress and tips to help you along as you traverse this path.

And feel free to reach out for a demo to explore various options to help create a tailored employee experience that aligns with your company’s needs

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