Summary: We compare various intranet options, such as On-Premise, The Cloud, Custom-Built and more, to one another to determine the best fit for your organizations needs.

The landscape for intranets is vastly different in 2016 than when our company was founded back in 1999. There are many more intranet options available, such as:

  • On-Premise
  • The Cloud
  • Out-of the-Box (multiple applications from one vendor)
  • Best of Breed (applications from multiple vendors)
  • Custom-Built
  • Vendor Platform
  • SharePoint/Google Apps for Work
But how do you choose from all of these possible intranet options?

On-Premise vs. The Cloud (or SaaS)

A lot has already been written on this topic, including our own blog The Benefits of an On-Premise Solution for Your Intranet. If you want full control over your security and application availability, have hosted server infrastructure and the budget to absorb higher up-front costs in exchange for lower costs over time, on-premise makes sense. Even though our own product is on-premise, as a company we do use SaaS applications like Salesforce and Zendesk, but it is disruptive to us when either the vendor’s servers go down, or our internet connection fails.

For more information on on-premise vs. the cloud, download our eBook.

When to Custom Build

Everyone would love to have an intranet that is bespoke to the unique needs of the organization, but this approach is cost-prohibitive. Most of the time, customers tend to use the intranet for secondary activities within their organization (administrative forms, company news, centralized documents, employee directory, etc.).

Primary activities, which drive revenue, are handled in core industry specific systems. Unless these activities are part of your organizations competitive advantage (performed in a unique way that create more overall value than competitors), an out-of-the-box intranet solution is more fiscally responsible.

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Out-of-the-Box vs. Best of Breed

We provide multiple applications within the same product for a single, central location to achieve all work tasks.

With the plethora of cloud-based products, why not choose the best vendor for each application?

For example:

  • Company News: Slack.com, Facebook Group
  • Document Management: Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive, Box.com, Dropbox
  • Online Forms: Wufoo, Formstack, JotForms
It’s an appealing idea, but the management of all these applications requires even more applications (see below), which are not required in an out-of-the-box solution such as our intranet software.
  • Employee onboarding and account provisioning: BetterCloud
  • Connecting apps together: Zapier, Azuqua
  • Unified Search: Xen.do
I found this article from an administrator who works for BetterCloud talking about how they have two administrators to manage 96 SaaS applications for approximately 100 employees. With an out-of-the-box solution, an administrator only has to learn one product, and for our customers in the 300-500 employee range, one person, often not in IT, usually manages the intranet part-time.

Vendor Platform vs. SharePoint/Google Apps for Work

Out-of-the-box intranets come in two flavors, those built on vendor-specific platforms, and those built on top of third party platforms like SharePoint, Google Apps for Work or even WordPress. The decision on which platform you choose primarily relies on:

  • Where your user accounts are hosted (Google, Azure AD, versus Active Directory)
  • Your specific application needs
While out-of-the-box intranets built on top of SharePoint have been gaining ground on vendor platform intranets, there may still be some key applications missing for you. For example, an online forms solution with approval workflow, or read acknowledgement on documents. From my own personal experience, I’ve found that managing SharePoint security can be a headache, and many of our customers who have switched from SharePoint have had similar difficulties.

Overall, each of the above intranet options have their pros and cons. However, with an all-inclusive, out-of-the-box intranet solution, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. To see the benefits of an out-of-the-box intranet in action, request a demo of our intranet software. What are your experiences working with any of the discussed intranet options? Share in the comments section below.

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