4 Pitfalls of a Homegrown Intranet Solution

By Karleen Murphy
December 14, 2015
4 min read
homegrown intranet solution

So your company has decided it needs an intranet, and to cut costs management has assigned you the task of developing an intranet site for your organization. Given that you possess the necessary skills to build out a basic intranet site to meet the company’s current needs, this seems like an obvious choice. However, there are many things to consider prior to jumping down the “built in-house intranet” rabbit hole.

Homegrown Intranet Considerations

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of organizations looking to implement a new intranet. At least half of those currently utilize an in-house intranet solution that is stale, difficult to update, rarely utilized, and in some cases, even despised by employees.

So, before you start building out an in-house intranet, here are four things you need to consider:

Note: Your business is a living, breathing organization. Over time the needs of your organization grow and change, and your intranet will need to grow and change with it.  The number of changes and the time it takes to make these updates is often underestimated – if you decide to build in-house, ensure that the IT team member you have assigned to build out an intranet not only has plenty of time to build the initial site, but also has the time to put towards making updates and customizing your homegrown intranet solution.

1. Intranet Content Bottlenecks

Whether it’s a new company announcement, a blog post, or an updated document, content needs to be added to your intranet and accessed by employees quickly.  If you only have one or two people who are able to add that content to your intranet solution, they can easily become a bottleneck in this process, decreasing the availability and relevancy of your intranet content for employees.

2. Impacts of Employee Turnover

Gone are the days when employees worked in an organization for 20+ years. Employees are moving to new organizations more frequently, which can mean trouble if the person who built your in-house intranet solution is the only person who knows how to update it. I often hear “we need a new intranet solution because so-and-so built it, but they have left and there is no one to update it now”. The same goes for content contributors – if only one or two people know how to add content and they leave, you’re left in the dark.

3. The Importance of an Engaging Intranet

If you’ve been tasked to build out an intranet, chances are that you have a job description with a lot more to it. That means you don’t have time to be spent building out every minute detail making the site visually appealing for employees. You want to build an intranet solution that is functional, and then move on to your more pressing tasks at hand.

This usually means that homegrown intranets, while functional, don’t result in the intranet adoption rates necessary for a lasting intranet solution.

4. IT Team Members are a Busy Bunch

Yes, an intranet is a software, and therefore most organizations think that it should fall into the hands of IT.  However, IT team members are busy!  They have a long list of tasks on their plate and an internal intranet system does not take precedence over these tasks. Intranet updates therefore often fall to the wayside and you’re left with a stale intranet solution.

Lastly, (and probably most importantly), why build out an intranet when someone else has already done it for you?

Homegrown vs. Out-Of-The-Box Intranet Solution

With an out-of-the-box intranet solution:

  • Sites can be designed and implemented by anyone! No IT experience is required. Your IT team can install the intranet and then leave it to other admins to make updates and add content.
  • Out-of-the-box developers design and create updates for the site based on industry best practices. All you need to do is push a button to apply them to your site.
  • Unlimited intranet admins and content contributors mean whoever wants to add content is able to (given the appropriate security permissions of course).
  • If an employee leaves, there are tons of training resources for new admins to pick up where they left off.
  • The design is pre-built for you, and additional out-of-the-box design tools are available for non-IT, non-graphic designers to create additional engaging intranet designs.

In short, when creating a new intranet solution – think long-term!  If a homegrown solution doesn’t make sense for the next 6 to 10 years, consider implementing a solution that will grow and expand as your business does.

Do you have experience with a homegrown intranet solution that didn’t work out? Let me know by commenting below.

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By Karleen Murphy

Karleen is a former IC teammate.