Choosing an Intranet is a big decision and a lot of time and effort goes into making that final choice. When you do make that decision, you want to be sure it’s the right decision. Here at SP Marketplace, we have deployed Intranet solutions on Office 365 for more than 700 customers and we’ve put together what we have found to be the five biggest consequences of choosing the wrong Intranet solution.
1. Spending too much for a pretty site
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is they blow most of their Intranet budget on building a beautiful site that does not do much. We have seen scores of companies that come to us after hiring consultants to build a highly graphical home page only to see the project fail because the end result provided little value to employees resulting in dismal user adoption.
An Intranet is not like your Internet, which must impress visitors and acts as a window to your company’s products and services. An Intranet is intended to be an operational hub for collaboration, news, and a consistent way to access internal services. If you are an SMB with a limited budget, choosing pretty over purpose can be disastrous. Consider choosing an out-of-the-box Intranet solution that not only looks good but also is ready to deliver function that can drive user adoption and a quick ROI.
2. Nobody uses the Intranet because of stale content
One reason behind an unpopular Intranet is that the content never changes. It’s a reasonable expectation that if your company spends money to deploy an Intranet then employees are going to use it, right? Not necessarily. Providing an Intranet is one thing but you have to go further and give your employees a reason to want to use it.
Many organizations underestimate the work of keeping content current. A lot of Intranets display stale content as opposed to active content and that translates into lackluster usage. Imagine if your organization had an Intranet that automatically displayed the latest industry news, pushed important departmental announcements or events, captured the latest sales win or revealed the new employee for Company News. Some out-of-the-box Intranet solutions can actually gather news.
3. Little functionality beyond the home page
If you are using the Intranet solely as a home page, you are missing out on all the other functional value it can provide to employees. It’s critical when researching an Intranet solution that you also take into account the internal services you provide to make them easy to access for employees. Can it consolidate disparate siloed departments to make it easier for employees to access documents, procedures and internal service processes?
Beyond collaboration, productivity is driven by making it easier for employees to do business inside the organization, thereby spending more time and focus on their primary job. Make sure your Intranet includes an employee self-service portal in the structure. By doing this and investing time into the structure, you will increase user adoption and increase ROI.
4. Not deploying a consistent department structure
Department siloes often are a frustration for employees accessing internal services. The last thing you want to do with a new Intranet is create more work for employees, and that’s exactly what you will do if you don’t use a consistent design across portals. A major goal of an Intranet should be to create an organizational hub that is a consistent and intuitive experience across departments. Watch out for each department designing their own site. Provide a uniform template for department portals and add relevant content.
The IT department can have its own portal to organize help desk tickets. Marketing can have its own portal to keep track of campaigns and measure success. But, choosing the wrong Intranet solution usually is the result of a poorly planned Intranet structure that ultimately will lead to decreased productivity, declined user adoption and siloed portals.
5. An Intranet that cannot grow with you
Very few organizations stay the same over time. Growth and changing business requirements demand that your Intranet can meet your needs today as well as five years from today.
Is your Intranet flexible enough to change with the times?
Can it take advantage of new technologies or features in Office 365?
Can you change the structure, modify or add new portals easily?
Can it grow to automate more business processes over time?
Don’t make the mistake of choosing a cool looking Intranet that covers up SharePoint or Office 365 with a code driven layer. This limits flexibility and will inhibit the ability to leverage future Office 365 features. Make sure your business users are empowered to change it, and you don’t have to rely on consultants to change it.
To learn more about an Intranet that looks great, is affordable, and easy to deploy, visit us online or see a video tutorial.
Stale and stagnant Intranets are out; active Intranets are the next big thing. So what is an Active Intranet? It’s a vibrant, dynamic and flexible portal that serves as the hub for your organization’s communication and collaboration.
Driven by operational activities and events, the Active Intranet is a next generation departure from traditional Intranet portals. Gone are the days where content is manually updated by content administrators who divert precious resources chasing news around the organization, ultimately ending up with stale, stagnant content that is of little interest to users.
So what is an Active Intranet exactly?
At the core of an Active Intranet is its ability and willingness to engage audience members by routinely presenting new and relevant information from inside and outside the organization.
External news, reports and industry intelligence is often delivered through news feeds, Twitter and social networking sites like LinkedIn. That part is already available and easily added to an Intranet page using apps or web parts. What becomes the challenge is receiving up-to-date, timely internal organization news.
Posting announcements and events is standard practice for every organization’s Intranet home page. But keeping those announcements and events current is the challenge.
Internal news is often derived from operational activities and events:
The big question though is how do content managers get this information and, more importantly, get it on a regular basis so as to keep the Intranet original and interesting?
When Sales closes a deal, what is the first thing they’re going to do? It’s not going to be a call to the Intranet Content Administrator. If Sales lands a major deal, the first thing on their minds is to celebrate.
HR is slightly more responsive because it might see value in informing the organization about the new hire as part of the onboarding process. Nevertheless, it takes time to get the relevant information to the Intranet Content Administrator.
It’s easy to see how getting company news to the right person in the right place at the right time can fall through the cracks. This is especially apparent at small- to medium-size businesses where content administration is one part of an employee’s role.
An Active Intranet is also a relevant Intranet
The Active Intranet also needs to provide relevant content to each user as though designed solely for them. This is where “content personalization” comes into play. Like a Yahoo or Google portal where the general population can customize displayed content, an Active Intranet needs to provide a section for personalized content.
However, the page should not be solely personalized content, but rather balanced with operational content employees need to see as deemed by management. A sales rep may want an RSS feed with the latest RFPs in his or her territories. They might start their day on the MySales page and add a link from the Intranet. And, they might want to link to the Sales Group community page from the Intranet.
How to create an Active Intranet Portal on Office 365
You could build it yourself on SharePoint Online from a basic Team site. It’s easy enough to create a simple site to post announcements, a calendar for events and maybe a document library for policies and procedures. But soon it will be stale and users might stop using it.
While third party services might offer sleek, polished Intranet portals that look impressive, in the end if you don’t update the content regularly they will grow stale as well. All that money you spent on design and graphics will go to waste when no one uses it.
Is there another option?
Enter SP Intranet 365, the Active Intranet built on native Office 365
SP Marketplace has introduced a next generation Intranet portal constructed from inception to provide active and relevant content out-of-the-box on Office 365. It can uniquely provide this content because it’s not just an Intranet.
SP Intranet 365 is a complete Intranet structure that includes operational department portals while automatically monitoring and reviewing content to detect, capture and push important operational events and announcements to the Intranet Home page. It also can be customized so that back office systems are monitored for new content.
Now when Sales closes the latest deal and the new account is created, an alert is generated in the sales CRM that pushes a news item for the Company News list complete with background information.
The Content Administrator is alerted via email where he or she can review the information, create the news item and add the new customer’s logo. It’s approved and published on the Intranet page, with no chasing but lots of celebrating.
This next generation Intranet portal design allows an organization to assemble its own Intranet portal by choosing from several layouts, basic branding and populating the page from the Content Components Catalog during the configuration stage of the offering.
SP Intranet 365 is an out-of-the-box next generation package that includes:
Using this component-based approach, customers can easily assemble their own Intranet in days and maintain it using business power user skills. Additionally, unlike other Intranet offerings built with their own user interface layer, SP Intranet 365 delivers a rich, intuitive user experience with native Office 365 branding as recommended by Microsoft guidelines.
The result is an integrated interface that is a natural part of Office 365. In fact, SP Intranet 365 is designed to leverage new Microsoft core services like Delve and the NextGen service portals for Video, knowledge sharing and group and people management.
Learn more about SP Intranet and Active Intranets at www.spmarketplace.com.
For many small to medium organizations (SMB) IT support is little more than sending an email to the IT person, or seeing them in the hall, or lobbing in a phone call and hope he/she is in. But as the organization grows the "seat of the pants" approach can lead to chaos. Many SMBs start with a simple email-based IT Help Desk setup, but as they grow and as service requests increase, the quality of service drops drastically. The IT support team gets into a fire-fighting mode, just resolving requests to avoid service failure. After losing track of a few requests, or having software update tracking get out of hand, the IT group can quickly lose credibility in the organization.
Enter Office 365 SharePoint Online - a great platform for a ticketing solution
SharePoint Online has many of the functions that allow you to build a ticket tracking application. You can build a simple issue tracking solution using basic features, or you could take some deep SharePoint training and eventually build a full featured help desk solution if you have weeks to do it. Another option is to hire a consultant to build it, or start with a full featured template like SP IT Portal from SP Marketplace. This article provides a look at the features of a ticket tracking system, and suggestions for how to use SharePoint Online to deliver it.
Basic Function: Issue Tracking
For organizations that already have Office 365 SharePoint Online for collaboration and sharing, the IT support team can implement a simple issue tracking list and exploit the SharePoint issue tracking list and workflow capabilities to track issues throughout the support life cycle. Such a SharePoint based issue tracking list is good enough for teams that receive phone calls about product and service issues. A technician can simply create a new ticket within the SharePoint list, and key in the information as per the phone conversation or copy in email content. Now that the issues are tickets in a SharePoint list you can assign them, report on them in list views and setup notifications for newly arrived tickets to the IT Staff. This is the simplest level of implementation using basic SharePoint capabilities, but also a big step forward from email chaos.
On a next level if you have the SharePoint expertise, you can setup workflows to automate email notifications to end-user or assigned staff. Beyond this point the do it yourself ticketing solution becomes more complex.
Ticket submission options for the end-user
There are several options for your end-users to directly create tickets in SharePoint Online. But not all are supported by standard SharePoint Online:
Let’s look closer at the options and the work it takes to enable them.
Instead of copying and pasting email content into tickets, wouldn't it be nice if users could submit tickets directly into SharePoint. You can do this by giving them a link to the ticket list new item form. From here they can submit tickets directly via a SharePoint form if they are a SharePoint user. An issue with this, is that in standard SharePoint, the end-user will be able to see all ticket fields including those that you want only the IT Staff to see. To get around this you need to add a third party forms package to limit who can see what and how the form is structured.
Some organizations want to have their employees submit tickets to a predefined email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately, Office 365 does not allow incoming emails into a list. This is where third party products come into play. On our website we have an area of Add-ins that are third party products which add capabilities to SharePoint Online. Cloud2050 is a product that takes incoming emails and allows you to create list items from them. So with this you set it up to parse an email and create a list item. You do need to know how to set up parsing in the product.
The third option is to actually develop an end-user portal from which they can submit tickets, access a knowledge base and see the status of their existing tickets. The great thing about this is that it promotes self-service (users helping themselves) and they can also see IT Announcements, get supporting materials like reference cards or even link to tutorial videos. Obviously there is a lot of work to create this portal, and you also have to set the permissions correctly to limit users to viewing only their tickets.
The SP IT Portal template comes pre-setup to support all types of issue submission.
Ticket Management and Reporting
Using SharePoint has great advantage when it comes to ticket management and reporting. You can create list views with their great filtering, sorting, group and summing capabilities to view my tickets, overdue tickets, tickets by category, or any other view to manage tickets. Also you can export your ticket list to an excel spreadsheet and build your own reports. Additionally is you have higher levels of SharePoint like E3 or Enterprise on premise, you can take advantage of the advanced BI features available.
The SP IT Portal Portal takes it to the next level. It has many predefined views, a built in dashboard which is configurable to your needs and a pre-built Excel worksheet with charts, pivot tables and more.
The Arteries of Local Government: How Office 365 Can Be Used to Create an Organizational Hub for Employees
Driving more responsive citizen services and creating a citizen engagement strategy are ways local government can be more successful, forward-thinking and help transition from a department-centric approach to a citizen-centric approach. Beyond citizens, there is a key audience not to be overlooked that also plays an important role in how local government accomplishes both of the above: Employees.
While citizens may be the life blood of any city or county, employees are the arteries that help transport citizens and citizen requests throughout the system.
In our last two blog posts we talked about how department silos in local government can impede the ability to provide more responsive citizen services and engage citizens. It’s also important to point out that department silos can have a major impact on internal services to employees within local government.
Department silos began as a way to achieve more focus and specialization. This worked well at first but as citizen and employee needs evolved with advancing technology, department silos proved to be insufficient, especially in today’s fast-paced, information and consumer driven economy.
Department silos not only lead to inefficient delivery of services but inefficient delivery of internal services, such as HR, IT and Facilities, making it hard for employees to find and access the services they need most to do their jobs.
SP Marketplace has spent more than four years working tirelessly with organizations to help streamline processes and improve communication and collaboration. SP Business Suite has helped more than 500 organizations at every level, including local government, improve communication and collaboration.
The Department Silo Dilemma
Over time city and county departments have established their own procedures, processes and systems to deliver internal services. While this is good for the department, for employees looking internally it means they have to deal with inconsistent processes, different systems, and multiple ways to request services. This not only can lead to frustration but also takes time away from the business of government.
Like businesses, local government organizations need to get away from the silo mentality because coordination across departments is where the greatest opportunities lie to create efficiency, drive change, incorporate consistency, and harness the power and ideas for all employees.
You do not have to disassemble departments but rather apply an internal services and communication structure over the top that provides a consistent employee experience for communication and obtaining services.
In some cases, like with help desks, you may be able to replace disparate department applications with a single solution across departments that saves money and could potentially pay for itself.
Create an Internal Hub - an Intranet Structure with Office 365
You can empower employees with an organizational Intranet hub that provides the latest government news, announcements, and achievements and activities of other departments, agencies and employees. An Intranet hub allows local government to span siloed internal service departments like HR, IT and Facilities to provide a single consistent approach to requesting internal services, through Help Central, accessing policies and procedures, and using common business processes like time off and expenses.
Empowering staff allows them to focus on the business of government and providing better city services to citizens rather than tedious internal administrative tasks. Like the citizen-centric strategy, an Internal Services Hub can be layered over existing systems to provide a common approach to internal services for employees. Additionally, many local governments have used it to consolidate costly disparate systems, creating the opportunity for significant savings.
Beyond the Hub: An Internal Services Structure
In most cities and counties the Intranet might feature an organizational portal at the top that serves as the Home Page and several department portals underneath, such as HR, IT and Facilities.
Each department might serve as an extended Team Site with a department tasks list, calendar and document libraries. You can create one of these and make it your department template for the staff of that department to access and use. This is the simplest structure and a good place to start.
However, while this structure serves basic needs eventually it will need to expand to provide self-service functions for employees and employee portals in each department to separate the department staff site from employee access. Below is one example of this advanced Intranet structure.
You can even drive productivity further by implementing an Employee Services layer. From here, city and county employees can go to Help Central to request service from any department and check the status, submit commonly used organization requests like time off, workers compensation, reimbursement for work-related expenses and continuing education and certification.
Employees also can access policies and forms in a central place rather than spread across networked drives. This replaces department silos with an employee-centric internal service structure.
A Consistent Look, Layout and User Experience
Having the right structure is a good start but it’s just as important to make sure that the user experience is consistent across sites. An employee using the Intranet then going to the Facilities portal or the Training portal should experience consistency. Often this is not the case because each department sets up its own portal without regard for a common experience for the end user in relation to other departments. If access to important documents or forms for Facilities or Training is in completely different locations in the department portals then the user can become confused or frustrated.
If each department uses a different Help Desk or Service Request approach, this also can be confusing. It’s important for each department to use a common design to employee facing portals. Below is an example of how to design portals across different departments so they achieve a consistent feel.
The Future With Office 365
As more cities and counties begin to think about modernizing their IT infrastructure and evolving to the Office 365 Portal Structure, it’s important to look beyond the benefits to citizens and see how to include employees.
Office 365 is a cost-effective solution for local government to drive employee productivity, streamline communication and achieve collaboration.
What does an Intranet portal on Office 365 mean for you? Is it a place for employees to collaborate? Is it a repository for you to access key corporate information and work on your own projects? According to Microsoft, on its Office 365 page, an Intranet portal is a SharePoint site that provides workspaces with customizable security settings for individual teams within the organization.
In other words, Microsoft’s vision of an Intranet portal is a home page template in SharePoint Online. It’s a basic site intended for small teams to collaborate and share documents that includes a document library, a news feed, a One Note library. That’s it.
Let’s simplify things:
Each department might act as an extended team site with a department tasks list, calendar and document libraries. Create one of these and make it the template for the staff of that department to access and use.
Once your organization grows and your needs expand, so will the Intranet portal structure. An advanced structure will provide self-service functions for employees, such as Service Requests, a Documents Portal and a Forms Portal. Each department will have its own portal allowing access to employees in that department. Below is one example of an advanced Intranet portal structure (as provided in SP Intranet Portal module from SP Marketplace).
Basic Intranet Structure
Additionally, you will want to add collaboration sites with the Community Site template as well. This will enable sales, service or other groups to not only use SharePoint Online to store documents and manage activities but also easily share knowledge, experiences and information.
A Consistent Experience
Having the right structure is a good start but to really transform the Intranet into more than just a home page you have to go further. Having a consistent user experience across department sites will achieve this.
An employee who visits the Intranet and then accesses the IT Portal or the HR Portal should experience consistency and unity in look and design. Often this isn’t the case because each department sets up its own portal independently.
Confusion can arise if access to important documents or forms for IT or HR is in different locations in the department portal. Also confusing is if each department uses a different Help Desk or Service Request approach. Having consistency across all departments ensures employees quickly and effectively access key documents and services, which improves productivity and the user experience. Below is an example built by SP Marketplace of consistent portal design across two departments
The above example clearly defines what an Intranet is and what it should accomplish. A successful Intranet portal is in the details and is more than just a home page.
More than 50% of Intranets run on SharePoint. Here at SP Marketplace we have implemented our Intranet Portal template at more than 500 organizations since starting business three years ago. That is roughly two organizations per day since starting business. We have learned a thing or two in that time that we would like to share with you. View our whitepaper here on using Office 365 as an Intranet portal. Let's look at some ideas about how an Intranet should be designed.
So what should an Intranet look like on Office 365?
The answer to this depends largely on your organization. The Intranet portal should reflect the structure of your organization and make it easy for employees to navigate. The documents and services that employees use the most often should be easy to find. And the Intranet should provide intuitive access to those things only used occasionally.
A simple, straightforward design at the basic level would have the organization home page portal at the top with several department portals - HR, IT, Marketing, Engineering - underneath. If you operate a retail organization or run several divisions that share overlapping services, the Intranet structure might have the organization at the top plus a portal for each division, store or region.
Obviously there is much more to a successful Intranet deployment using Office 365, including organization education, keeping content fresh and contextual just to name a few. Tune in next week to learn about how to resolve issues relating to Intranet content.
A Branded Intranet
Branding the Intranet portal will achieve organizational unity and increase value for all stakeholders. This is easy to do using Themes in SharePoint Online. You can match the colors to your organization and add a logo.
If you want to go further, hiring a consultant will help you design a custom SharePoint branding master page. Be aware that if not done right, it could result in problems upgrading to newer versions of SharePoint.
An alternative, and more cost-effective way, is to use a preconfigured branding template offered by third-party vendors. Apply specific colors and other elements to bring it in line with the branding for your organization. Below is an example of a customer’s external site versus their Intranet portal.
A major difference between the SharePoint Modern and Classic UI, is that the Modern UI editor and web parts are built much like popular website building tools (Weebly, Wordpress, Wix etc). That makes them easy to use. Unfortunately, the designers did not seem to realize that building an Internet page is very different than an Intranet. The main difference is the audience. Internets are generally pages built for the masses - anonymous users generally viewing information only. Whereas, an intranet audience is not anonymous. It is made of authenticated users who have different information needs based on role, function and level. The content in an intranet needs to allow targeting, and provide governance (security), over what is shown and who can change it based on the user.
Unfortunately that is not how much of the content management works in the SharePoint Modern and Communication Sites. It is the reason it is generating many articles of concern, here is a few:
Internet - Page building
Audience - anonymous users
Content - general information that is organized but not targeted
Content Source - the pages themselves
Governance - Simple, most of it read only
Intranet - Content Management System
Audience(s) - authenticated users by role, function, level
Content - Information, documents, data that is targeted to audience
Content Source - Lists, Libraries with meta data for filtering, targeting
Governance - Permissions based Content
I want to emphasize though, we are not saying Communications Sites themselves are bad, just beware of how their out-of-the-box content management works. Continue on to learn more.
The Difference is in how the Content is stored
In an internet most of the content is either on the page itself or is controlled by a web part. The content is simple and does not have a lot of intelligence about who should see it. Unfortunately, that is the way most of the Modern UI web parts are designed from Microsoft. News content (wikis) is stored in the general Site Pages library along with all other site pages on the site (including home pages!). They are hard to manage and governance is non-existent. Links and images are stored in the web part themselves on the page so again there is no way to target them. Announcements do not exist, and Events has no targeting or even a calendar view. Quite a step back from the Classic UI web parts that pulled content from lists like Promoted links.
Intranets require real Content Management
An Intranet needs a content management system which sources its content from lists rather than inputting it into a webpart on the web page itself. With the content in a SharePoint list, you can use meta data fields to define who can view the content, how long it should be displayed and even set permissions against it for security. You cannot do that with simple content in web part. Also, it is important that the list the content is stored in is only used only for that content. Microsoft implemented the News function via Wiki pages that reside in the main Site Pages library. This is the same library that all site pages (like the Home Page) are stored, which creates a big problem with security. What if your Content Manager accidentally deletes the Intranet's main Home Page?
Content Management is not done on the page but rather through the lists and libraries which can be organized into a Content Management Dashboard.
How we fixed this in the Modern UI
Having been providing SharePoint Intranet and Department portal templates now for over six years, we understand the best practices for managing content on an intranet site. We already had Lists for Content such as Announcements, News, Events and Promoted Links. We even had the feature to roll-up chosen News, Announcements and Events from Departments into the Intranet Home with approvals.
So the back-end content management structure was there, we needed a way to display it nicely on a modern site page. There were no supporting web parts.
What we did was to develop our own new content web parts for the Modern UI that use SharePoint lists for the content. Each of them sources from the specific lists already used in our solution templates and provides content targeting, governance and filters in a Modern UI page. Content Managers don't have to edit the page every time to change the content, they just go to our convenient Content Management Dashboard. Best of all, if it is used on multiple pages, it can be used over and over again with re-entering it. Our News web part presents the News Content just like the Microsoft web part. Rather than simple links from the Microsoft part, we can use Promoted Links from a list, using our Promoted Links web part. And finally we can actually display announcements, highlight alerts and target them using our new Announcements web part. That is what real Content Management is all about! â€‹
So now we can offer the best of all worlds, the ease of use of the Modern UI pages, and the robust content management of traditional SharePoint. Check out our new Intranet Solution templates for the Modern UI and Communication Sites at www.spmarketplace.com.
Compare our Content Web Parts to the out of the box Microsoft Parts
Recently, we have seen a number of organizations who are looking to deploy an Intranet Structure wrestling with the approach of building it themselves using tools, pieces and parts, from vendors vs. using an already built out-of-the-box application based on best practice design. They are looking at companies like Live Tiles, Unily, or Valo that provide building blocks, thinking they can design an effective intranet structure.
This is interesting because many of people shopping may not fully understand that just having the tools, does not mean you know how to design an Intranet portal structure.
Like building a house with no architectural plan
Let’s step back and compare building an intranet structure to building a house. We have all gone into custom built houses that are poorly designed and wondered what were the original owners thinking?
Imagine you have bought a lot and you are ready to build your home. You can have a bunch of materials dropped off, get power tools and build it yourself. Maybe you have watched some videos and think you can design it yourself. Or you just start building it with the cool new power tools you got.
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.
Many organizations have gone to Office 365 – most because they saw the strategic value of a Cloud Solution and other because, well, Microsoft made them a deal they couldn’t refuse.
The bottom line for all businesses is that it makes dollars and sense to transform from a Client-side model with expensive servers to a Cloud-based solution. They have effectively eliminated the need to manage and install countless updates on so many different Client versions of Office. These companies give their employees greater capabilities and accessibility across all devices….anywhere… anytime.
That is…if they use it. The fastest Ferrari in the world can’t do much if you don’t learn to drive stick shift. We are finding that while a lot of people have moved to Office 365, in reality, their users haven’t adopted and are using the crutches of Client-based programs.
So now, you are paying for the cloud and the clients!?! Why should you pay for something you are not even using?