Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Intranets – To Build or Buy

With another new year upon us, the following conversation is happening in meeting rooms around the globe:

 Employee 1: We really need to find a way to connect our employees.
 Employee 2: Yeah, didn’t we meet about getting an Intranet up last year?
 Employee 1: Yeah, but it never happened.
 Employee 2: Well, let’s see if we get that conversation restarted.

Every business knows it needs an internal website to do things like share files, encourage collaboration, and provide a means for executive management to directly communicate with the team, but only a small fraction act on it and do so effectively.
Evolution Always Wins
Intranets, like just about everything else, have evolved over the past decade. No longer is it simply a file repository and company directory, intranets now:
  • Have social elements and activity streams that connect users around the globe
  • Allow departments to share information and manage projects
  • Not only allow for, but strongly encourage direct feedback from users, feedback than can be harnessed and addressed by management to resolve issues
  • Connect technologies, serving as a starting page that allows users to get access to all the information they need from one spot
And it’s because of this growth, that users often struggle with the decision to buy an off the shelf intranet product or custom build a solution.

To Buy or To Build – That is, the Question
You’ve identified that you do in fact, need an intranet (yes, we all knew this already!). Here are the best arguments I‘ve heard for why you should build or buy your intranet solution.

Why Buy
  • Quick deployment
  • It allows your business to focus on what you do best and leverages the experience of others
  • Usually has more features that a custom solution 
  • If it’s good – user adoption generally will be high right from the start
  • Generally integrates easier with other applications and websites
  • Lots to options choose from

Why Build
  • You have very specific requirements and a one size fits all option isn’t a good fit
  • The pre-built solutions can be costly
  • The integration points you need to achieve aren’t commercially available 
  • Quite simply – you haven’t found anything that meets your needs
  • Hosting requirements of the pre-built solution don’t match your requirements
I’ve recommended both solutions to clients because both sides have valid points and there is no way I can sit here and tell you what’s best for your organization. However, like any good web project, I strongly encourage you to spend some time working with your team to find out what it really needs to be successful before looking at any solutions, Then, when you get to that point, hopefully this information proves useful as you move through your decision making process.

To learn more about Ektron’s solution, the eIntranet, please visit:

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