Intranets can be a hugely beneficial addition to a corporate online presence. However, there are pros and cons to developing an Intranet based on feasibility, security and performance. This article will discuss several of the disadvantages of Intranets in a business environment.
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As discussed in part two of this series, designing, implementing and supporting an Intranet can be an excellent way for a company to communicate and manage internal process, procedure, efficiency and effectiveness of workflow. However, there are also drawbacks that must be considered. Below is a list of some of the biggest limitations of Intranets.
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Time, Cost and Organization
Time and human resource requirements can be significant. Depending on the complexity of your design and the number of users of your portal, setting up and maintaining the Intranet can be costly. Be sure to start small – maybe with a single corporate portal before branching out to include departmental Intranets. If you have more than a few hundred users and want to take full advantage of an Intranet, you’re probably going to need to add additional personnel to manage the infrastructure.
Cost – in addition to time, Intranets can be costly to set up as well. Again, this depends on the specific software solution you use, but to take advantage of some of the more advanced features of an Intranet (such as workflows, unified search and audience targeting), you’ll need to be ready to spend some money. A SharePoint 2007 site with 100 users would be just over $20,000 not including hardware. The good news is that there are free alternatives, including SharePoint Services 3.0 – a slimmed down version of the popular SharePoint Server 2007.
Catch-22 – you probably want to implement an Intranet to better organize your corporate files – which Intranets are great for, but you need to realize that just implementing a portal will not solve all of your issues. You’ll need to come up with naming schemes for documents, a hierarchy for storing files and creating portals. It takes a lot of work to keep up maintenance of the site in order to provide the benefits you are seeking.
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Complexity and Buy-In
Complexity – in some environments, Intranets can become complex monsters consisting of web based portal software, file services and databases. Managing these components can be both costly and time consuming – especially if you don’t have dedicated staff to devote to IT administration.
Getting Buy-In – if you’ve never had an Intranet before, getting end-user and even management buy-in may be difficult. When it comes to technology and the way people work, most people hate change – no matter how much the change may benefit them. Again, make sure you start small – and be sure to include a representative group of people to run a pilot project. This will help build user acceptance while you determine the best way to design the site.
Although these potential Intranet disadvantages may sound overwhelming, many can be mitigated by proper planning and by starting small. Part four in this five part series will discuss some simple designs to get you started.