To keep up with the fast evolution of the dispersed digital workforce, organizations turn to intranet portal development so as to acquire these new capabilities or fine-tune current ones.
An intranet portal is a collaborative solution that acts as a central repository for your company’s data and tools. It’s a ‘one-stop-shop’ platform that can facilitate data accessibility, enhance employee collaboration, and streamline business workflows.
While the benefits of an enterprise intranet portal might already be familiar to you, one of the most decisive factors in building a portal remains the intranet development cost.
Just like with any other software development project, the cost of creating an intranet portal depends on several factors that are specific to your organization’s needs and preferences.
Although most companies will share the high-level goals of building an intranet portal like improving operational efficiency and boosting productivity, the differences arise in the portal’s implementation, management, and support.
Whether you’re a small business looking to build an intranet portal for the first time or a larger enterprise planning to overhaul your existing one, the first step in analyzing the intranet development cost is to set up the objectives of your intranet portal’s functionalities.
What do you want to achieve with the intranet portal’s functionalities?
It’s nearly impossible to accurately estimate the intranet portal’s development cost if there is no clear vision and a list of requirements that support it.
So, before embarking on a detailed cost breakdown, make a list of:
-the specific workflows you aim to automate or data you want to centralize
-things that work well the way they are within your company
-future development plans that might affect the portal
-your employees’ needs and frustrations
Setting up the portal’s objectives will serve you as strong guidance when analyzing the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and, later on, the ROI (Return of Investment) of the intranet portal, so you can measure its success. It will also help you avoid overloading the intranet portal with irrelevant features that take up a big part of your time and budget and produce zero results.
What are the main factors that influence the intranet portal development cost?
Once you’ve defined the intranet portal’s objectives and outlined some of the key features, the next step would be to assess some of the most significant expenditures. The following information will give you a clear strategy on how to proceed with that assessment of expenditures.
1. Custom Development or Off-the-shelf
With software development, there are always two choices. You can either build your portal from scratch or choose an off-the-shelf solution. Choosing one or another for building your intranet portal depends on a few attributes, namely your budget, timeline, and platform complexity.
A turnkey solution might suit your organization better if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, and the built-in functionalities of the portal cover your basic needs. It doesn’t mean it is the most cost-effective option. With an off-the-shelf solution, you pay a subscription based on your company’s size, aka the number of users that will use the portal. And the subscription might cost you somewhere between $5 – $30 per user for a pre-defined list of features. It means that the fee could increase as your company grows, and you might not be able to add new functionalities, or they’ll come at an extra cost.
If you opt for custom intranet portal development, the initial investment will be higher, although, in the long run, it might turn out to be more cost-effective. A bespoke solution has the advantage of being personalized and built with your company’s needs in mind. You have control over the functionalities it embeds. You pay only when you need new features, provided you have a clearly defined set of features and a highly-skilled team or a trustworthy development partner. Depending on the intranet portal’s complexity and whether you develop it in-house or outsource it to a software development company, building an intranet portal could range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Performing a thorough cost-benefit analysis can help you understand each option’s long-term advantages and which one fits better in both your strategy and budget.
2. On-Premises or Cloud-based
Having an on-premises system implies having a hardware infrastructure that can turn out to be expensive. Your servers need to be physically hosted somewhere, maintained, and secured, all of which require an IT team. These factors add up to the total cost of your intranet portal.
Some companies choose an on-premises system because of the security it promises as a result of being on-site. A cloud-based portal offers even more robust security protocols and has no infrastructure costs, as it doesn’t require any hardware setup. With cloud-based solutions, updating and maintaining the software is relatively easy, as all changes are pushed without any extra effort.
3. Customized functionalities and Integrations
An intranet portal is, first and foremost, an internal tool, which gives it a personal touch right from the start. The same platform will be used entirely differently by two companies.
So, regardless of the type of software solution you choose, custom-developed or out-of-the-box, your intranet portal will require customization.
With the off-the-shelf portal, it’s essential to pay attention to the level of flexibility the platform offers and if the functionalities that come with the paid subscription cover everything you need and leave room for personalization. Otherwise, there’s the risk of initially having a low cost to realize that it’s impossible to custom-develop extra functionalities, or it implies a considerable cost. In this case, analyzing the cost of limitations can help you mitigate some of the risks.
At the same time, an intranet portal must be able to evolve. Its adaptability is key to the company’s progress and its response to any internal or external change. While you’re looking to streamline business processes and improve employees’ efficiency, it’s essential to integrate as many tools into a single platform, so it becomes a center for all company data and resources. With custom-development, you have the opportunity to design the intranet portal with flexibility in mind. On the other hand, the off-the-shelf portal could result in a separate software development project to acquire the desired capabilities.
4. Intranet portal’s company roll-out
A new intranet portal is a significant change for the employees. Adopting it company-wide should be viewed as a long-term project that requires continuous training.
To ensure the successful adoption of the new tools, it’s crucial to define the intranet portal ownership – a team that will oversee the portal’s branding, launch campaign, and training courses.
Although the costs related to these activities are not directly impacting the portal’s implementation, they can have a massive impact on the total cost of ownership and shouldn’t be neglected. A low adoption rate will strongly affect the portal’s success, and it needs just as much attention as the portal’s design and implementation. When you calculate the related cost, consider the salaries involved or the hourly rates, the training hours, and all the materials required to educate the employees on using the new portal.
5. Maintenance and Support
IT downtime can cost companies up to $700 billion / a year. That includes productivity loss, revenue loss, and the costs related to fixing the issues.
The intranet portal is a mission-critical system. When it stops working, employees stop performing their tasks, and your business is affected. Ensuring fast support when issues arise is essential to the performance of the portal. Just like any customer interacting with a digital tool, employees expect a seamless experience with the intranet portal, especially when they’re in the process of gaining trust and adapting to it.
Having a team that can provide 24/7 support is the ideal option. While you might be short on staff or employees involved in other strategic projects, outsourcing IT support is a cost-effective solution. You’ll have a dedicated team that will ensure your intranet portal performs well, and any issue that appears can be promptly addressed.
A feature-rich, secure, and flexible intranet portal brings great benefits to a company that views it as a valuable resource. Besides streamlining business operations, improving collaboration between employees, and increasing productivity, an intranet portal will positively impact the business revenue.
The development of an intranet portal should be approached as an investment that pays off a couple of years later. It’s not a short-term endeavor.
It’s similar to Alan Miltz’s “Power of One.” Although it originally refers to improving a company’s cash flow, it can be applied in this case just as much. If you make a 1% or a one-day change in any of your company’s operational levers, whether it’s increasing productivity or decreasing the number of issues, cumulatively, you’ll enjoy great results in the long run.
An intranet portal is a multifaceted solution, so carefully analyzing all the cost variables that go into it can help you make a better-informed decision and ensure its long-term success.