Once you have decided that you want to leverage your SharePoint environment to build or configure an intranet on top of it, you and your team will need to decide if you want to go the custom route, or pre-built route. A pre-built intranet is also known as an "intranet in-a-box" or "SaaS intranet solution" which has only become an option for organizations in the last two years. Many view this as the modern way of deploying an intranet due to superior functionality, knowledge expertise of the vendor, and cost-savings.
Both have these options have their merits which we will outline for you here in addition to projecting the costs of each option based on actual savings from a market-leader in the energy and utilities space. Costs will vary depending on your organizations' needs, but this will provide a good base for you to start from.
Custom SharePoint Intranets
When you choose the custom route, you are committing yourself to high upfront costs and a series of long-term costs to support and maintain your intranet's continual development. I'm sure you're aware how fast technology changes, so be prepared to continually invest in keeping your technology up-to-date and having a dedicated team to do so.
Those who do choose to develop a custom SharePoint intranet typically have a very large budget to work with in addition to talented and experienced internal SharePoint developers. Start-up development costs are typically 3-times that of SaaS SharePoint intranet solutions and take a minimum of one-year to fully implement—two-years at a maximum.
What are the benefits?
Like anything you do in-house, the benefits are complete control and customization providing you internally have the skillset to deliver in a timely manner. You can develop your intranet to your exact specifications and maintain control over it’s roadmap. Albeit, at a high cost. Over five-years here is a very conservative estimation of what a custom SharePoint intranet will cost you. We have consulted for some organizations wherein total intranet development spend ran into the millions and let's just say, jobs were lost. Keep in mind that the estimate below does not include the cost of SharePoint
Costs Over 5 Years – Custom
SaaS SharePoint Intranet Solutions
I get that we may be biased when vouching for the route of a SaaS intranet but research also favors this direction. Within the next 1-2 years experts estimate that the SharePoint marketplace will move from primarily custom solutions, to one where 80-90% of organizations are using a SaaS solution. This is because it makes plain business sense. While in some years SaaS intranet costs will be slightly higher compared to its custom counter-part, cost spikes are much more balanced which will have your accountants singing. Another plus, is that upfront costs are one-third of custom solutions and you won't be allocating large man and money power to development upgrades around year three or four.
Benefits: Economy of Scope and Scale
Another tangible benefit of SaaS intranet solutions is due to economies of scale and scope. By outsourcing this activity to a dedicated company, you benefit from best of breed solutions that internally, would be near impossible to compete with. Companies like Bonzai Intranet focus solely on developing and improving SaaS intranet solutions that are cutting-edge. All manpower is dedicated to developing award-winning solutions whereas when done in-house, you will find your IT and dev resources strapped trying to juggle multiple projects with competing priorities and deadlines. Because your custom intranet cannot be categorized as a profit center, you will find intranet development prioritized close to last. Here are cost-projections of a SaaS intranet solution over five years. This is based on Bonzai's pricing which you'll find is lower than the top three solutions providers worldwide.
Costs Over 5 Years – SaaS Intranet Solution
If you have come to realize that a SaaS intranet solution is the right choice for your organization, it is time to start researching which solution is right for you. There are 26 recognized products on the market for you to choose from, all with varying features and functionality. A sure way to ensuring you select a solution that will help you reach your business objectives, is to clearly define your business requirements. Here's a video that will help you get started.