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You’ve been chasing the client for months. Bringing on this account would mean the world to your firm, and you’d get all the glory. Countless proposals and presentations to try and get them across the line, and finally—you get the phone call. They want to start doing business.
But it’s not your usual request. They want you to build them an office intranet.
Developing a bespoke intranet can be a long and arduous process, with no guarantees at the end of your finished product. This is not your firm’s specialty—how do you select the right intranet development option to meet the client’s needs, without committing too much time and resource, or even worse, flunking the opportunity you’ve been given?
We’ve got good news. There’s another way, and it’s faster, cheaper and safer. Introducing: pre-built CMS intranet systems. Read on to learn how this can be a viable option for your customers, and the answer to all your intranet development worries.
A World Without Pre-Built CMS Intranet Systems
To truly understand the value of a pre-built CMS intranet system, it pays to first look at the other side of the coin. What does it typically take to build a bespoke intranet from scratch? Here are the standard steps:
1. Requirements Analysis
Firstly, detailed information needs to be gathered from your client around their requirements. What are they hoping to use the intranet for? Are there any particular activities they will be using it for, and any special tools they may require? What baseline requirements do they have around data and security? All of this information is gathered as a needs analysis, and typically involves staff questionnaires, workshops and focus groups. No surprises that it takes a while to complete!
Following the needs analysis comes documenting—essentially detailing all the information gathered. This involves the mapping out of the necessary business processes, data flow diagrams and information, including an initial site map. Again, a slow and labor intensive process.
Next, a prototype must be developed to give your client a feel for the solution you’re proposing. This not only allows your client to see what the end product will look like, but enables you to move forward with confidence, knowing that your intranet will be the right fit. Creating a prototype can be a lengthy ordeal, particularly as it is an important point in the process from the customer’s point of view—show them a mediocre prototype, and they might pull the pin altogether.
Once your intranet is completely developed, the final step is testing. No one wants to present a solution only to find out it’s full of glitches that undermine your credibility immediately! Testing should cover functionality, ease of use, device compatibility, end user appeal, speed, reliability, user load and ongoing management. As well as this, it’s important to step back from the practical perspective, and look at the intranet’s visual appeal—after all, it’s being used by humans, not machines.
It goes without saying that developing a bespoke intranet is not a straightforward process. The potential for the process to quickly suck up time and money is very real—it’s a significant investment, not to be taken lightly. This holds a degree of risk to you as a developer. Too often the journey is embarked on optimistically, only to end in high costs due to unforeseen changes and labor intensive design.
We’ve seen what it’s like building your own intranet. Now, let’s look at a pre-built CMS intranet.
A Better World: Pre-Built CMS Intranet
When you need to drive to work, you don’t build the road to get there. You use a pre-built road. Why? Because it’s simpler, cheaper, faster.
Intranet is much the same—using a pre-built CMS intranet negates many of the issues we’ve seen in building a bespoke intranet. Here’s a quick look at how a pre-built intranet can save you time, money and hassle along each step of the development process.
1. Requirements Analysis
No more starting from scratch. Conducting a needs analysis looks very different with a pre-built intranet. Essentially, it involves walking your client through all of the already available functions and features within the CMS intranet software, and noting down which ones are needed for their particular business. This inverted approach is fantastic because it shifts the client’s perspective—they choose from what’s available initially, rather than dreaming up a plethora of potentially unrealistic options. Risk is also reduced for you as the developer, as the pre-set options mean you’re more likely to end up creating an intranet well suited to your client’s needs.
Implementing a template approach means extensive documentation is no longer required. Your pre-built intranet comes already equipped with a site map, and modules which can easily be customized. Pre-planning becomes unnecessary, as adding or editing pages is straightforward.
Say goodbye to tedious prototype creation, and hello to simple free trials. The majority of CMS intranet providers offer the option of ‘try before you buy’, meaning, as a developer, there’s no need to build a prototype or even go through the process of installing intranet software. Simply use the step-by-step building process, utilizing the flexible page options and design.
Again—no need for any testing with a pre-built CMS intranet. All the pre-testing has been performed in advance, meaning functionality can be assured from day one. In fact, this aspect of a pre-built intranet is an easy sell to your clients—there are hundreds of users out there already using the product, who can attest to its usability.
Clearly, pre-built CMS intranet systems offer huge benefits, with very little downside compared to bespoke intranets. As well as saving time and money in the needs analysis and documentation phases, a pre-built intranet is able to be customized to meet the requirements of the majority of companies, with all the development and testing already completed and proven.
The Cherry On Top: Cloud Intranet Hosting
As if the benefits of saved time and money aren’t enough, cloud-hosted CMS intranets offer even more benefit for your customers. Instead of having to purchase additional servers, then hosting and maintaining the intranet themselves, customers are able to outsource it to a hosting company. What this means is:
- Automatic backups
- Fixed low monthly costs
- Up-to-date security features
- Unlimited users
- Automatic updates
- Managed storage
At MyHub, we firmly believe that configuration, as opposed to development, is the best approach when implementing a new intranet. Uncertainty is lowered and return on investment is maximized. From the developer’s perspective, this means more time to focus on what you do best: understand customers, and deliver requirements. Instead of spending the time and money necessary to become proficient in intranet development, market yourself as having a competitive edge over other developers when it comes to responsiveness and understanding.
Ultimately, CMS intranets can both meet your customers’ needs, and those of your web development agency. Contact us at MyHub for a free consultation on how a cloud intranet can make intranet development a much easier task.