shutterstock_77272342.jpg You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great intranet.

SharePoint, WebSphere, Autonomy and other big-name, big-price solutions are rarely the right answer for most organizations. In fact, if SharePoint is being used at 75 percent of organizations, why should it work for your organization? Is your organization not unique, with unique employee needs, business requirements and information needs?

There is a reason why there are thousands of other intranet solutions: they cost less, and they work.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all solutions are created equal and work for all organizations, to the contrary. Most solutions however exist for a reason, and serve a purpose or niche market that is not being fulfilled by other market solutions. And, sometimes you get what you pay for, but what you pay need not be a king’s ransom.

Technology Market

Consider there are six broad solutions categories that comprise the intranet technology platform market:

  • Web content management (e.g. Elcom)
  • Enterprise content management (e.g. Alfresco)
  • Social media (e.g. IGLOO)
  • Search (e.g. Autonomy)
  • Portal (e.g. SharePoint)
  • Hybrid (e.g. Intranet Connections)

Within each category are many different niches and solutions sets (and in some categories, such as web content management, dozens of different subcategories with hundreds if not thousands of solutions) that focus on different industries, functional sets and technology integration (e.g. .NET versus Java).

Each category and subcategory serves a purpose or a type of client or client needs, and therefore exists for a reason. Therefore, why would you automatically choose SharePoint or Lotus Connections when there are thousands of solutions to consider? The answer: only a fool would spend more money than necessary.

Yes, SharePoint makes sense for some, maybe thousands of organizations, but not for all; Lotus Connections works particularly well if you are a Java shop and use Lotus Notes; Autonomy might be great if you already are an Interwoven and HP customer. But your choice should not be based on guesswork and rough estimates, or what some sales rep with an existing relationship with your IT department tells you; your technology selection should be based on careful planning and research.

Once you determine which broad category best suits your needs (e.g. a large portal solution is overkill for our company, which would be well suited by a small market web content management system), then you can develop a plan for your intranet and list all the requirements, and the finer details and criteria for selecting a specific solution.

Planning

Understanding your company’s requirements is paramount before any vendor or solution evaluation is even considered. Failure to develop an integrated plan that accounts for an organization’s business, stakeholder and user requirements can ensure failure.