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Choosing intranet software on a budget

11 blue piggy banks in a circle.

Choosing intranet software on a budget

A key part of any product selection project is the identification of non-functional requirements. These include where data should be hosted, where a vendor ideally should be located, and most importantly what budget is available for the new solution. Browsing for the best product that will suit hundreds or thousands of users within a tight budget can therefore feel daunting. I will help you navigate the market with an understanding of how product pricing works, so you can make informed decisions.

How we’ve gathered costs

Four price bands, for 250 users, 1,000 users, 5,000 users, and 20,000 users

We have been researching the intranet market since 2016 and have published a series of reports that review the leading products. These reports are now free to download and contain pricing information direct from the vendors we’ve featured. Very few vendors are willing to publicly show pricing for their products, as there are many configuration dependencies, or potential discounts to consider.

To help you group products by price range, we asked each vendor to quote a list price for 250, 1,000, 5,000, and 20,000 users over three years, with only the basic services needed to install the system. We picked three years as a realistic lifecycle for an intranet and employee mobile app solution, and to smooth-out comparisons between ‘per user per month’ pricing models and those that have a high initial fee but then low ongoing maintenance costs. We then grouped the pricing into four bands, from lower to higher, represented by $ symbols. Where vendors had multiple price options, we have matched the pricing to the version we reviewed and indicated what could be achieved at a higher price point.

Identifying your budget and using it to shortlist

When deciding on a budget you will document how much the business is prepared to spend on a solution and will factor in a few different elements:

  • Licensing cost for each person to access the solution
  • Initial set-up costs
  • Ongoing development costs
  • Ongoing maintenance and technical support costs
  • Strategy, training, a customer community, or other ongoing support to make the best use of the product.

Some of this might be done in-house (such as development), while others will rely on the vendor or one of their Partners to deliver (such as technical support), and others might not be wanted (such as strategic support). Of course, it’s important to stick within your budgets, and if your budget is $ then you won’t want to explore $$$$ solutions. However, there is always the potential for a deal to be done and so it’s always worth speaking to a vendor that might be slightly outside your budget.

There are then four aspects to consider and explore.

1. Unobvious (or hidden) costs and discounts

We would urge you to speak with your shortlisted vendors to discuss potential savings and uncover hidden costs as early as possible. Some areas where you can save money include:

  • Asking whether you will be charged for active users only, so just those actually using the system rather than for your entire workforce
  • Requesting discounts for less frequent users, like those on the frontline
  • Removing ongoing support like strategic guidance (where it isn’t needed)
  • If you’re a not-for-profit organisation, then there might be discounts available there too
  • If you’re very large (see further below) or a prominent brand, there might be the option for a discount.

Get clarity from the vendors on what the pricing includes (use the five bullets in the previous section as a guide) so that you can identify gaps, or subsequent costs you might not be prepared for. Note that some of these costs may not even come from the vendor, such as the IT team taking responsibility for feature development, so associated internal costs should be factored in too. Sometimes the vendor cost may look high, but in comparison to associated internal costs (and stress) it might be good value for money.

Unobvious costs include:

  • Pricing only being provided for licenses, with everything else on top
  • Development costs where a feature is outside of a vendor’s roadmap (you also need to check whether they support this approach or if they’re a pure SaaS (software as a service) solution with no other development options)
  • Working with a partner for set-up and / or ongoing activities – they are a separate business to your vendor and will have costs that you will need to factor in
  • Training or help with content population during the build phase
  • Hosting data, or charging a fee for the handover of data at the end of a contract
  • Additional features or ‘modules’, which might be demo’d to you but are at an additional cost.

We asked vendors for details on what they charge for and what discounts are available, so you can see some initial information in our reports.

2. Complex or simple needs and products

Although I mentioned non-functional requirements at the start of this post, what you’re trying to achieve through functional requirements will impact your budget too. Some products tackle a range of business needs through a variety of features, while others are designed to tackle one or two business needs and provide a simpler solution.

ShortPoint intranet home page, showing buttons, news, navigation, and map.


ShortPoint is a product designed to tackle one business need. ShortPoint is a plug-in for SharePoint that offers design flexibility and some additional web parts, rather than a full intranet solution.

As a design tool, ShortPoint allows you to be much more creative with your intranet’s appearance, whilst retaining the functionality that comes from Microsoft.

Pricing is for ‘Editor’ licenses only and, unusually, is available to see on their website.

If you want something to help with content lifecycle, to provide detailed analytics, or address community needs, then it doesn’t matter how (comparatively) cheap ShortPoint is, as it won’t meet those requirements.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users
Omnia intranet home page, showing hero images, news, and a right-hand sidebar.

For each user bracket, we indicate ShortPoint is ‘one icon’, for the reasons above.


In contrast, Omnia is a SharePoint intranet in-a-box product (see further below for more on this) that offers businesses a highly flexible intranet solution with a variety of features.

The presentation of complex reference material and news articles is strong, with a good search experience to help people find content.

Admins have a great deal of control over the whole site, making Omnia one of the most flexible products that still conforms to Microsoft standards.

It comes at a good price too, which looks encouraging. However, we would advise that companies have a dedicated admin team or invest in a partner to make best use of its features and so there are additional costs that need to be factored in.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Omnia price indicators.

While these may look like cheaper options there are things to consider over and above licensing costs, such as whether the product meets all of your needs properly or whether there are any unobvious costs. User and business research, as well as a proper conversation about costs with vendors, is needed before you can make an effective decision.

3. High and low user volume

Some vendors price their products so that smaller businesses can make good use of them. Others recognise the costs associated with having a large workforce, so discounts are more obvious as a company increases in size. I’ve shared a couple of examples below and you can find more in our reports, but it’s certainly worth keeping in mind that different vendors will approach discounts differently.


Lumapps intranet.
250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

LumApps intranet price indicators.

Staffbase mobile

Staffbace mobile.
250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Staffbase mobile price indicators.

(NB – This is mobile only, not Staffbase Intranet.)

A final (small) group of vendors understand that being a larger business doesn’t necessarily mean budgets per head are larger too. They work to develop solutions to meet as many needs as possible while keeping costs as low as possible for all organisation sizes.


Involv is a simple and user-friendly SharePoint intranet in-a-box product. Involv uses Microsoft’s features, particularly SharePoint lists, very well and it fills some of the gaps in functionality that we still see in Microsoft’s platform.

While some areas of the administration require technical knowledge, this is something Cognit themselves could provide instead (so note the potential cost here).

Involv would therefore suit small or medium businesses, or enterprise organisations without a dedicated administrative team.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Involv price indicators.

4. Different technology types

There are four types of technology that you are likely to consider for your business. I’ve provided an overview of budget considerations for each, although these are generalisations and worthy of investigating further with vendors.

a) Microsoft products (SharePoint, Teams, Viva and Yammer)

Most organisations use the Microsoft suite to some extent or another, meaning that it’s often seen as the ‘free’ option for intranets and other communication tools. There are a few reasons why SharePoint isn’t necessarily the automatic choice for your intranet or why MS Teams or Yammer aren’t the best choice for your employee mobile app solution. Cost is one of those reasons. Helpfully Microsoft publish their pricing, so below is a table showing the cheapest license option over three years, plus our associated price icons.

 250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users
SharePoint and Viva Connections$73,440 $$$$$293,760 $$$$*$1,468,800 $$$$*$5,875,200 $$$$*
Teams and Yammer$36,000 $$$144,000 $$$$720,000 $$$$*$2,880,000 $$$$*

*Among the most expensive in that bracket, if not the most expensive solution.

For larger businesses it’s clear that the Microsoft suite is a very expensive option. In fact, for businesses over 5,000 users both options are the most expensive of all the products we’ve seen (although there might be discounts available for organisations over a certain size).

While all desk-based colleagues might be using it already, businesses with a frontline workforce may not have paid for licenses for everyone. Given the costs involved, it’s worth pausing to consider if this is the best option. Additionally, for an intranet SharePoint requires a lot of work to get it set up correctly and working in the ways that Microsoft advertise, which means there are internal costs that need to be factored in too.

b) SharePoint intranet in-a-box products

To relieve some of the admin burden but make use of a Microsoft investment, you may choose to add an intranet in-a-box product on top of SharePoint. These use SharePoint for storage and make use of Microsoft features, such as the search or back-end SharePoint settings. They also fill some of the gaps in SharePoint functionality, particularly around the look and feel.

Generally, SharePoint intranet in-a-box products are among the cheaper options for dedicated intranet solutions. However, it’s worth noting that for our report the SharePoint dependent products quoted for the cost of their product licensing only. While you may have Microsoft 365 (M365) licenses anyway, some plans are very expensive for all features (such as the four Viva modules). Including SharePoint / M365 licenses (above) would make add-on products significantly more expensive than their independent cousins.

Additionally, many in-a-box products need a fair amount of configuration to get set up, taking weeks or months to complete and the work (and associated costs) of the vendor or a partner.


Akumina is a flexible, mature product that delivers a top-tier experience for desktop and mobile users alike.

Collaboration features and information finding experiences are excellent, and the options for business system and Microsoft 365 application integrations are among the best we’ve seen.

However, some technical skills are needed in places to make the most of the options, which either requires in-house resource or the use of Akumina / a partner to implement customisations.

The degree of flexibility that comes with Akumina (just the design options alone are vast) means that this need for technical support is more acute than with other similar products.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Akumina price indicators.

c) Independent intranets

According to our report, independent, standalone, intranet products are more expensive than those that rely on SharePoint.

Independents must develop all aspects of their product, as they cannot rely on SharePoint’s framework, so arguably there is more development costs associated with them.

However, often other services are included within the pricing (such as strategic guidance or design services) and you’ll be working directly with the vendor rather than a partner. This means there are unobvious savings and added value for the cost.

Note however, these products are often SaaS solutions and don’t allow for complex customisations away from the features on offer.


Overall, Interact is a mature product with excellent and varied features that will meet the needs of most businesses.

It performs very well in our reviews and offers a flexible, fully-featured solution. However, this comes at a higher price point, although there are modules that could be deactivated to help reduce the cost.

Interact home page.

As a SaaS solution, Interact manage all updates and there is no need for heavy configuration (although this means where customisation is wanted it might not be possible or would happen at additional cost).

Additionally, Interact offer supporting services (such as strategic advice) so a lot is included in the licensing that might be additional cost with a different vendor.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Interact price indicators.

d) Employee mobile apps

For organisations with a large number of frontline workers an employee mobile app solution might be the most appropriate product choice. These focus on mobile-first technology and often have lighter and leaner features than their intranet relations.

With these you are often paying for the vendor’s experience and understanding of the market, as well as hands-on support in areas such as adoption or content creation. The costs can therefore vary quite wildly, but there are some strong products at good price points on the market.


Two screenshots from Oneteam mobile.

Oneteam is a communications- and people-focused employee mobile app product. It provides some simple solutions for top-down and two-way communications, including storing and sharing reference materials.

Its micro-learning feature makes it stand out though; Oneteam is a good alternative to a traditional LMS, particularly for the frontline that might not have time to sit at a desktop to complete training.

There are a few drawbacks, for example there is no app-wide search, but for the price its an excellent option to explore.

250 users1,000 users5,000 users20,000 users

Onteam price indicators.


There is a lot to consider when choosing a product, with price often an influential factor and among the most complex to unpick. In summary: make sure you’re clear about what you want before you speak with vendors and have an understanding of what you want for the price (or what will need to be paid for on top).

Our free reports can help you uncover some costs, and we can help you pick the right solution for your needs – including within budget.

Suzie Robinson

I've always worked with intranets, and have practical experience with all aspects of intranet management, including research, implementation, governance, and strategy. My roots are in internal communication and I focus on employee experience and engagement.

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