Though it might immediately seem irrelevant to determining intranet costs, the following example is instructive. In times when web development seems to be a mature and predictable discipline, we see cases like Hertz suing Accenture for $32m because the world-class consultancy firm failed to deliver a functional website.
Some of the reasons that Hertz took this step were:
- Lack of screen responsiveness: The website worked on desktop and mobile screens, but not tablets – an elementary oversight. Once the oversight had happened, it was estimated that it would cost hundreds of thousands of Dollars to fix the problem.
- Accenture did not use standards in core libraries that would allow the website to scale for other brands of the company
- Two deadlines were missed
- The code was buggy and had security vulnerabilities
- Accenture kept charging extra fees for minor changes
The amount for which Hertz sued Accenture, was likely not much different from how much it spent on the project. This could be the standard story for custom development done through an IT consultancy – millions of sunk dollars, and a resulting software which misses elementary capabilities that one expects even in free consumer software these days. Another similar example is the infamous launch of Obamacare’s website, which suffered similar elementary flaws.
Specifically, how much you will be paying for your intranet?
If done with HyperOffice, your intranet may be as low as $5/month per user. If you have, for instance, 20 employees (users), you will be paying $100/month and $1200/year.
In-house vs outsourcing
I will assume you’re not an IT company and, while you may have an IT department it is limited or small. In general, like website development, this kind of project is outsourced since it’s not merely a matter of development but the “expert” firm performs an advisory role as well.
Custom development vs Intranet platforms
It would not be an overstatement to say that today, Intranet platforms are so mature, widely adopted, and stable today, that most of the times it simply makes no sense to develop an Intranet from scratch.
You may think your collaboration needs are so unique there is no platform that would fit for you. However, in almost every case your needs are fundamentally the same to other companies and, while the challenges may differ, the solutions to address them are very uniform.
When being offered a specific feature or plugin that is custom made for you, remember, in the world of open APIs, there is surely an app out there that you can integrate to your current systems. Do you want web calendars? Well, there is Google Calendars or HyperOffice. Do you want a scheduling app? You can use Calendly.
There are lots of SaaS providers that have already taken years of research and development to offer you a product that you can immediately access with an affordable monthly subscription; they offer updates, customer service, integrations, and so on. Otherwise, you will need to pay for your own solution and, if you want updates, you’re right, you’re paying for those, too!
And just for the record, a proxy of web development hourly rate is something between $61-80/hour.
If you want more opinions, we recommend you this article to discern between building vs buying apps.
Subscriptions vs licenses
While there may be exceptions, the general norm is that buying software is turning to a monthly subscription, instead of a one-time license fees.
The reason is cloud computing. As software is cloud-based, its easier for a provider to distribute it and update it remotely. This is good for companies that now can access applications at decent rates without hefty up-front costs.
For collaboration software, specifically, subscription plans are based on the number of users. There the more employees you have, the more you pay. Some providers also have plans based on the features offered. If you want to unlock, let’s say, automation or document management, you will pay an additional fee per user. For document management, you may find additional fees based on storage but most providers will offer you enough space without paying extra fees.
The following is an example of HyperOffice pricing.
If you decide that a SaaS (subscriptions) is your way to go, we built a tool to help you score and select a vendor.
Free vs paid options
In many cases, open source solutions out there are great and suffice for many companies. If you just want a static intranet – a bunch of web pages for employees, you might be best served by using WordPress for free. Some solutions might also have free tiers that suffice for your needs.
If you want to explore open source solutions, we have also created a list of the best Intranet CMS.
However, there is a reason why these many of these platforms also offer a paid version. Paid plans generally unlock collaboration capabilities, the ability to customize, enhanced privacy or security, and backups. In addition to this, they unlock features that are likely needed for larger companies or richer capabilities. For example, for project management, Asana offers project and task lists for free, and if you pay, you can use Gantt charts and project dependencies.
Also remember this: paying means customer support—it’s very likely you will require it the more as your intranet platform grows.
Sharepoint vs everything else
The collaboration software that leads the market is Microsoft Sharepoint. It was launched more than a decade ago, and as a Microsoft product, has gained a lot of traction. However, it was a late adopter of mobile and cloud, and primarily an on-premise solution associated with high costs. That has changed in recent times, but the quality of its user experience is questionable, among other issues and limitations.
If you want to take a deeper look at comparable solutions we recommend you look at Microsoft Sharepoint alternatives.
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