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Internal communications software – build vs buy? – 5 key decision criteria

Today’s internal communications software has undergone significant evolution, transitioning from mere corporate bulletin boards to robust tools facilitating collaboration, knowledge sharing, employee engagement, and organizational culture support. When faced with the decision to implement or upgrade such a platform, the pivotal question arises: should you opt to build from scratch or purchase an off-the-shelf solution? Let’s delve into a thorough analysis of both options.

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The business impact of intranet platforms

According to a 2022 Gartner study, the average office worker utilized about 11 apps, with some using even more – as high as 26 for 5% of employees! Despite this, a significant 47% faced challenges in locating pertinent information.

Certainly, well-crafted internal communications software holds immense potential to revolutionize numerous facets of a company’s functioning. It can elevate teamwork efficiency, streamline communication channels, foster seamless access to organizational information, enhance the digital landscape for employees, bridge the communication gap between remote and office-based workers, and offer convenient information accessibility for field and remote personnel.

Both building an intranet from scratch and opting for off-the-shelf solutions aim to establish a consistent and integrated digital environment. However, their similarities diverge when it comes to factors such as implementation time, service, human resource and infrastructure requirements, customizability, and pricing.

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Internal communications software – build vs buy – understanding the difference

Building an intranet involves creating a new tool utilizing either internal resources (hired employees) or external human resources (outsourcing). Organizations can develop an intranet using the on-premise model (in-house IT architecture) or opt for off-the-shelf systems (like Microsoft SharePoint).

Buying intranet software involves purchasing off-the-shelf software, typically in the form of Software as a Service (SaaS), which provides a comprehensive, ready-to-use product designed by experts. It comes with a fixed set of functions, tailored to meet the needs of most organizations.

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Comparison of selected criteria

Below, we’ve provided a brief overview of the key factors to weigh when deciding whether to purchase or develop an internal communication platform. For a more comprehensive exploration of this subject, feel free to download our in-depth guide here.

Implementation timeline

The duration of implementing an intranet can vary significantly, spanning anywhere from 2 months to 2 years or more. Building a platform from scratch usually extends the timeline compared to deploying an off-the-shelf solution. A well-managed project to create a new tool typically takes around 12 months to complete.

Opting for an off-the-shelf intranet presents a quicker and more predictable solution. A reliable supplier usually delivers within 6 months of contract signing, with most implementations completed within 2-3 months.


When purchasing a ready-made solution, typically, one person or a small team is tasked with collaborating with the vendor, overseeing the implementation process, administering the intranet, and managing its content during use.

Building an intranet necessitates assembling a larger team that must commit to full-time engagement, spanning from the planning and design phases to testing, implementation, and ongoing maintenance for several months post-implementation. Additionally, having team members responsible for updates and modifications is imperative when building your intranet.

Explore further! Download our comprehensive guide – Internal communications software – build vs buy

Tailoring to organizational needs

Ready-made solutions offered in the market often come with a predetermined set of functions that may not always align with an organization’s unique requirements. While some vendors offer the option to add extra features for an additional fee, this isn’t always a standard service.

However, it’s important to recognize that the standard features of pre-built intranets are meticulously crafted. Providers of these products often conduct thorough research into the needs of their prospective clients, resulting in platforms that excel in managing internal communications at the highest level.


For an intranet to fulfill its role effectively, it should seamlessly integrate into the digital workplace as an essential tool. This integration is a crucial aspect of the design process, overseen by application developers. When creating a system from scratch, full integration with all employee-used systems is achievable. However, with a purchased solution, integration is limited to those systems envisioned by
the supplier during the design stage. Therefore, when opting for an off-the-shelf solution, it’s essential to select a platform offering a wide range of integration possibilities.


Building an intranet is a multifaceted, long-term endeavor. The multitude of variables involved makes it challenging to accurately estimate the final budget required for successful completion. Estimating the overall cost of developing and maintaining a custom intranet can be challenging. Potential risks involve fluctuating developer rates, as many IT firms do not engage in ‘fixed-price’ implementations.

If a company opts to purchase an intranet, it faces fixed monthly fees, offering easier cost predictability. All implementation and license fees are clearly outlined in the contract, eliminating unexpected expenses and additional costs. The service allows for flexible modifications with new modules, adjustments to license numbers, or cancellations if needed. The precise platform cost is contingent on the number of licenses and modules procured.

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Internal communications software – build vs buy?

Choosing between building your intranet or purchasing a ready-made solution is a pivotal decision for any organization. Each option presents its unique benefits and challenges. Building from scratch offers complete control over customization to fit your specific needs, but demands significant time and resources. Conversely, opting for off-the-shelf software promises swift implementation and access to proven features, yet may constrain flexibility and incur ongoing fees. Evaluating factors like cost, implementation time, feature availability, and alignment with organizational strategy is crucial. By carefully weighing these considerations, you can ensure the chosen solution optimally supports your business processes and organizational objectives.

If you’re looking to delve deeper into the realm of building and purchasing internal communications software, we’ve got just the resource for you. Download our PDF guide for a detailed exploration of the decision-making process between building your intranet, or opting for an off-the-shelf solution. This comprehensive resource equips you with detailed insights into both options, allowing you to compare decision criteria and make an informed choice that aligns perfectly with your company’s needs.

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