If you’re thinking about creating a new SharePoint intranet or enhancing your existing communication hub, you will have been reading all the reasons why you should avoid building your own intranet.
The buy-not-build approach can seem like an attractive proposition when you’re time-poor and cash-rich, when you don’t have your own IT department, when you’re not sure what a good intranet looks like, or when you just want to get it done and move on…
But hear us out. There are ways you can build your own intranet and get all of the benefits of a bought solution, with none of the pitfalls.
With SharePoint at the core, and a good SharePoint development agency by your side (ahem) you can have a tailor-made, purpose-focused hub that looks, feels, and behaves the way that you and your employees need it to, delivering what you need, when you need it.
Let’s dispel some myths…
Myth 1: You’ll be reinventing the wheel
No, you’ll be taking the wheels and the chassis and building around them whatever car your business needs – metaphorically of course.
Mini Cooper? VW Passat? Bugatti Chiron? Whatever works for you.
There is no need to start anything from scratch. If you’re building your own purpose-built intranet, you’re going to want to start with a platform that gives you all the base essentials, the opportunity, and the tools to develop exactly what you want from there.
Used by over 190 million people, and more than 85% of Fortune 500 companies, SharePoint is a leader in the market and, as Gartner reports ‘none can rival SharePoint’s ability to execute and deliver a complete product’.
With SharePoint, you have full scope to design and build the intranet you want, but with the confidence that you are creating in the context of a tried and tested toolkit. SharePoint offers responsive, dynamic pages that are easy for anyone to create.
Navigation design – which is often one of the hardest things to get right when building your own intranet – is straightforward with SharePoint’s modern hub site structure. This allows you to create multiple sites (for different divisions or departments, or for activities such as training or communication) and share navigation, branding, and other common elements between them – all defined by you.
Using User Experience (UX) experts at this stage can allow you to define your content taxonomy even further and by pulling together knowledge of user behaviour, with a hierarchy of content across the business, you can create a navigation that is both intuitive and scalable.
Myth 2: Intranets fail because people try to build them themselves
We know that 90% of intranets fail, but largely this is because businesses fail to engage with them in the first place. It can also be because deployments are too complex and designs too fanciful to get off the ground.
If you choose to build your own intranet, you can establish an engaged business user group from the outset, giving key stakeholders and influencers the opportunity to articulate their needs. To avoid the inevitable scope creep and camel design, partnering with an expert SharePoint development agency with UX capabilities can maintain a manageable structure and ensure that user paths are properly defined and prioritised as well as creating a branded look and feel that engages and inspires your employees.
Myth 3: You need a team of developers to build your own intranet
Of course not.
SharePoint in Microsoft 365 has been developed in such a way that the IT requirements for build and maintenance are minimal and, with new tools such as Microsoft Flow, much of the work around workflows and connectors within SharePoint can be done without needing to use extensive custom code.
This means that you will have the option to either employ your own permanent or temporary IT resources or use a SharePoint development agency at a level of commitment that works for your businesses.
Silicon Reef provides a wide range of SharePoint support to our clients – from delivering ad hoc development and enhancements to running ongoing management of enterprise-level SharePoint intranets – but always look to create sites that can be easily maintained in house.
When it comes to expanding content, creating, and publishing pages and communication campaigns, uploading training courses, videos and podcasts, your intranet is only going to work if all these tasks can be carried out by your business users.
Giving your employees the ability to interact with your intranet right where they work is what is going to make it a success and so building a solution that is woven into the way your employees engage with you every day – through Teams, Viva, Microsoft Outlook, and Word – gives it the best chance from the start.
Myth 4: Security, accessibility, and hosting will be a big headache
Built-in accessibility checkers, navigation options in templates, and technical support for users with disabilities are just some of the many ways that the platform supports your accessibility efforts when you build your own intranet on SharePoint.
If you choose SharePoint Online you don’t need to worry about architecture, servers, or hosting resources, and this gives you the security of Microsoft Cloud’s security features which are often more robust than businesses can afford to implement and maintain in-house.
Using SharePoint Online can also indirectly help you make strides towards your own ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) capabilities with Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability aiming to provide carbon-neutral, zero waste, and water-positive hosting by 2030.
Myth 5: You won’t be able to keep your custom build intranet fresh and up to date
To ensure the continued success of your intranet, you will need it to remain up to date with content and features, to continue to be performant and robust, and to have the flexibility to grow and adjust with your business.
After building your own intranet, choosing the features, creating the structure of each site, and populating the content, you will be launching with intimate in-house knowledge and, by sustaining this level of ownership – through appropriate governance, tracking, and management – your business owners will be able to keep the content fresh, and call for new features when required.
SharePoint intranets also have the benefit of regular software updates with SharePoint Online updates landing automatically. SharePoint Server users will be able to manually download and install updates, giving them, on one hand, a little more technical work to do but – on the other – greater control over when and how updates are rolled out to your users.
Far from being the antithesis to a straightforward implementation, building your own intranet (provided you choose the right platform and partner) can give you the scope you need to create something that truly fits your business – and the opportunity to expand it over time in house – along with the security and confidence of a tried and tested, robust solution, and the engagement of an employee base who had a hand in creating it.
Silicon Reef supports businesses to design, develop, and manage their own SharePoint Intranets, communication hubs, and virtual training platforms. For more information book a meeting with us now.
Ready to build your own custom SharePoint intranet for ultimate employee engagement? We’d love to help.