In the past, I blogged about various technical capabilities of SharePoint Intranet and the vast possibilities when it comes to design and look and feel options. However, today, I want to explain two different ways to approach Intranet development/creation and discuss a few options regarding implementation strategy/philosophy.
There are two ways you can approach the SharePoint Intranet, and they differ in terms of timeline and involvement.
Option 1: Minimal Viable Product (MVP)
The first option to create a SharePoint Intranet is to create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and take it live as soon as possible. The idea behind this option is that you initially create something relatively simple in terms of design and content and then make gradual changes and improvements over time, often based on users’ feedback.
This option does not imply that you do not gather some initial requirements and content from the business users. It just means that you will spend less time doing so. The goal here is to develop something useful and functioning quickly so that you can realize ROI immediately and have a common place for employees to go to and access company-wide information.
To achieve this option, you can build from scratch or use one of the built-in templates. I listed a few options and shared some sample designs available in this article.
Example of an Intranet built from scratch using Out-of-the-Box functionality
Example of the Site Template selection available in SharePoint
The main driver behind this option is the fact that Intranet is a project without an end date – it is constantly evolving, and the design and content will change accordingly as time goes by. It also hinges on the fact that with modern SharePoint, you can easily adjust the design and architecture on the fly. For example, if you want to completely change your Intranet site’s look and feel, you can do so easily with page editing and a vast template selection. If you would look to re-reorganize navigation – once again – this is an easy task. Likewise, you can easily reorganize your hub architecture, and rename the site and URL on the fly.
So the idea here is to release something to the employees really quickly, even if it contains some minimal information. In other words, it grows organically and matures as time goes by. As long as the site is secure, you can promote your Intranet to your employees and then make further changes and improvements on the fly.
- Quick Timeline
- Minimal cost (if hiring an external resource to create one)
- A better option if you want to grow Intranet organically and gather feedback from employees
- It might not contain all the content
- It might not contain all the wishlist items or advanced capabilities
Option 2: Customized Intranet
As you probably already guessed, the second option is the opposite of Option 1. The idea here is that you go through the detailed business requirements upfront with your users/stakeholders and customize the intranet according to those requirements. The assumption here is that you go through many iterations/design changes to address the requirements, and the project is not completed until most of these requirements are met. Quite often, companies also opt for additional customizations and integrations often not available via the out-of-the-box functionality.
- More complete than MVP (contains additional functionality)
- Much Longer Timeline
- More expensive (if hiring external resources and relying on 3rd party themes and further customizations)
You probably already guessed from the tone of this post that my preferred option is Option 1 – build a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) right away and grow it organically within the organization as the company matures in terms of technology and content. When working with clients, I do support both options, but I always advocate for a quick turnaround/timeline. In my opinion, this option provides lots of flexibility and gives power to Site Owners to adjust the look and feel as necessary.
I typically find this Option popular among smaller organizations, that do not have large budgets to spend on the Intranet. Larger/Global organizations, who might have specific communication, compliance, and country-specific legal requirements, and obligations, might often prefer the second option.