A How-To Guide to Effectively Understanding Your Intranet Costs
Intranet Costs. Hidden costs. Realistic Expectations
There’s a statistic floating around on the web that the average intranet costs $40k and takes 15 months to implement. That is a long time! Not to mention the money involved. But, of course, that’s not going to be you, you say. Those aren’t even close to the costs you’re looking at.
Hold on a minute though. Could it be that you have missed some hidden costs associated with intranet implementation? After all, when we think of investing in an intranet solution, we think of the costs of the license, three year maintenance, some services for the project, some training, and voilà.
But there are always hidden costs associated with any new project and what we often fail to factor in is the staff time it takes to research, roll out, train and maintain a new intranet. Whether you choose to buy one off-the-shelf (and there are definite cost-savings with this option) or you choose one fully customizable to your company, it will cost you.
Here are some steps to understanding your key business needs and the potential costs involved.
Step 1. Define your Intranet Requirements
On one hand you have the needs of your users and on the other, the technical requirements and constraints of your IT set up. The task of defining your requirements can be a lengthy process and, depending on whether you decide to do it in-house or hire a consultant to do the workshops, surveys, and feedback with your users, it can also be quite costly. No matter what you decide, this is an important step in the process and not one that we would advise you cut costs on.
We had a look at the companies that have had experience implementing their own intranets and we came up with some key questions that should inform your choices (and your budget):
- How quickly do we want this rolled out?
- How dependent should we/ can we be on a consultant?
- How seriously should we take this? In other words, will a heavy and lengthy investment take away from the company’s core business objectives?
- How many (if any) full time or part time staff do we want devoted to this project?
- Would we rather the vendor complete all the work and future development or is this something we have the resources to handle in-house?
- Is mobile accessibility important?
- Are we just looking for document storage? Or are we looking for a way to engage employees and foster collaboration?
Step 2: Choose a solution.
Based on the answers to the questions above, you’ll need to quickly find a vendor whose solution meets all of your requirements, fits in with your IT constraints, and meets your budget. This can also be a lengthy process researching different off-the-shelf vendors, perhaps even tendering for intranet providers and requiring at least one, sometimes two, project managers. All of which should be costed into your spreadsheet.
Step 3: Actual Costs of Implementation
Implementation time should be the most time-intensive phase of your project where your team will be working at least half time on this project for its duration (at least 4-6 months). Estimating the cost associated with this stage should be fairly straightforward. Vendor costs should include licenses, subscriptions, and services (but they may not include annual license renewals) and staff time allocated to the project should be generous.
Be careful, however, about getting caught up in all the bells and whistles that are on offer. The following features make implementing the intranet more complicated from a technical perspective and can lead to a higher price:
- Multiple languages
- Integrations; amount and complexity of integrations
- Page, site, etc. templates; the number of different templates to be implemented
- Client-specific tailoring and other unique features
- Size of the organization; license fees are often tied to the number of users
Step 4: Launch your intranet
Once your intranet is ready to go, it’s all about getting your users on board. Whether you do so gradually or at once, you’ll likely be launching a communication campaign around the project to build up excitement and to encourage usage. Depending on the scale of your launch, the costs associated with this may be negligible but it’s the continual user engagement (feedback, newsletters, links, drop ins, and so forth) that lasts several years and which requires user trainings and follow-ups. Of course, the first year is critical to getting on the right track but you’ll need to invest staff time to ensure continuity.
Step 5: Maintain your intranet
Following on from step 4, once your intranet is in production, it will cost you to maintain it technically, provide support, and ensure it’s up to date. This may not be essential to include in your initial investment costs but it’s worth keeping in mind.
All the above steps could last longer and therefore cost more. In fact, they could last MUCH longer and cost MUCH more. You could be sitting at the design table for a year, for example still trying to understand your user requirements. Further complications may mean you may not find a vendor that perfectly suits all your feature requests, IT constraints, and budget thus requiring further investment in a feature that’s missing. Prepare to compromise, because you most certainly will have to.
The key is to reign yourself in. It is very easy to get carried away with building the intranet of all intranets but like anything, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each feature and factor in time building these new features into your cost analysis. In other words, you need to determine whether you want to devote your life to building it or if you just want something that works now.
If you think you can’t have it both ways, however, you need to visit us at Precurio. We offer an easy-to-use, fully customizable intranet solution that is affordable for every organisation. Try us for 30 days and save yourself some time.