Small businesses of less than 100 people often have the challenge of building the business, developing product, marketing and generating revenue to keep the business going. Often this does not leave much time to think about putting in place a technology infrastructure to support growth. The owner or CEO, probably does not have the expertise or money to create a technology infrastructure plan.
They get the basics done like email, a website and the office essentials like Microsoft office put in. They might use a small business accounting system like Quick Books to keep track of their financials. The rest is often whatever they can get by with. The major tools are Excel where they may track client information, Employee information, and other data. Even tasks and projects often are tracked in Excel. No one thinks to put together a document storage strategy, and many are kept on employee hard drives.
With Office 365 and the cloud going mainstream, organizations are looking at ways to leverage this powerful platform to go beyond basic email and document sharing. Many small- to medium-size businesses are looking to create a central point of information sharing, collaboration and access to internal services through implementation of an Intranet for their employees.
More than 70% of all organizations rely on an Intranet. Often they are using Office 365 and SharePoint Online as a platform and are starting to become aware of the possibilities.
How you approach the Intranet project though can determine its success or failure. Do you build it from scratch or do you buy an out-of-the-box solution? What are the advantages of one over the other? How does cost factor in? These are all very important, very relevant questions necessary to consider before deploying an Intranet for your organization.
Building a basic Intranet from scratch can start at $30,000. But for more complex, robust Intranets, organizations can expect to pay considerably more, exceeding $100,000. But is building it yourself or with consultants your only option? Lets examine the alternatives.
The features that go into an Intranet are going to determine its adoption and how it benefits your organization. By not deploying an Intranet that empowers employees and helps them find the things they are looking for, companies can expect to lose money on their investment.
Standard features though for a successful Intranet that improves productivity and enhances company-wide communication and collaboration include:
The question is, if 70% to 80% of all organizations need the same features, why are so many Intranet portals being built from scratch? Why not start with an 80% template and customize from there?
In reality though that is what many consulting firms who build custom developed Intranets do. They have templates they use in engagements. Unfortunately they do not always tell their clients because if they did they could not charge the fees they are receiving.
There are a few companies though that provide full-featured Intranet applications, are easily brand-able and can be deployed and easily customized according to an organization’s requirements without programming.
Companies like SP Marketplace and others offer turnkey Intranet portals on Office 365 and SharePoint that introduce an option for "Buy" versus "Build." These applications are prebuilt Intranet portals that can be installed, configured and branded for much less money and time than the traditional custom developed engagement.
Additionally, because these Intranet portals are developed in standard SharePoint on Office 365, business power users can configure them to their specific needs without programming or calling back in consultants. Below is an example of one such turnkey application - SP Intranet Portal.
For example, one SMB in Virginia with 200 employees that was looking to deploy a basic Intranet received build bids from traditional Office 365 and SharePoint consulting firms ranging from $38,000 to $57,000. Alternatively they chose the buy route with a third-party solution and their cost was less than $10,000 deployed and configured. Deployment time was less than a month versus six months.
This is a natural market progression and we will see more packaged application vendors enter the Office 365 and SharePoint Online marketplace, which will result in lower overall costs for customers.
With the introduction and proliferation of Office 365 as a lower cost model for SMBs, providing the corresponding savings for application solutions will follow. This can only be done with repeatable packaged applications that are flexible enough to address the custom 10% to 20% of features required.
For traditional Office 365 and SharePoint consulting firms, they will either need to stick with just the large enterprise deployments or adjust their business model to fit the financial realities of the SMB market.
If you would like to learn more about deploying an Intranet and how to begin, see our white paper "Deploying an Intranet on Office 365."
To learn more about how you can extend Office 365 and SharePoint Online to create a dynamic, intuitive hub for collaboration and internal services with an Intranet portal structure, see a tutorial video Intranet Portal Template on our website.