Options for setting up (building) an intranet or extranet

By: Malcolm Brown

Setting up an intranet or extranet can be as easy as purchasing access through an application service provider (ASP), purchasing and installing third-party software, or building an extranet or intranet internally.

Here is a quick summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach:

1. Building it yourself
Advantages: Complete control of user interface design; ability to customize level of functionality for each client; integration into internal systems, and direct access to user activity.

Disadvantages: High up-front development cost; requires staff expertise in the development of intranets and extranets, commitment of internal staff for 6 months to a year for planning, execution, review and implementation; and an ongoing commitment of internal staff for internal and client support, hosting, maintenance and upgrades.

2.

Purchasing/installing third-party software

Advantages: Proven track-record of packaged solution; ability to choose functions and to customize user interface, more rapid implementation compared to building it yourself.

Disadvantages: High up-front purchase cost; commitment of internal staff for customization and implementation; on-going commitment of internal staff for internal and client support, hosting, maintenance and upgrades; and extensive internal and client training.

3. Using a Service Provider (ASP)
Advantages: Proven track-record, often with expertise in the application of intranets and extranets in particular industries; low cost of entry and predictable cost over time; virtually immediate implementation; no commitment of internal staff for internal and client support, hosting, or maintenance; and upgrades at no cost by extranet experts, and savings on internal server use.

Disadvantages: Less freedom in user interface design, and fixed functionality.

In the final analysis...
The approach you choose depends on how you work, the technical and financial resources at your disposal, and how rapidly you need to move forward.

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