If you are reading this article, it is probably because you currently are a frustrated SharePoint user; or are looking into getting SharePoint and have read conflicting feedback about it.
SharePoint, as you may already know, is the leading intranet platform developed by Microsoft and 80% of Fortune 100 companies have built their intranets on it. SharePoint is an industry proven and powerful tool. It has been around for over a decade and continues to gain popularity because Microsoft is investing heavily in it and new features and functionality are added periodically to make it more attractive and viable to businesses.
Sold as a team collaboration software, SharePoint offers:
- Document management
- Web publishing tools
- Content management
- Compliance management
- Enterprise wikis
- Video conferencing (through Skype)
- Enterprise Search
- Enterprise social networking (through Yammer)
- Workflow and basic project management
- Business Intelligence integration (through Power BI)
SharePoint is a web platform that allows you to access it from anywhere, from any browser and from any device. Being part of the Microsoft Suite you benefit from everything that comes with it. It is highly configurable and customizable. But despite its versatility, flexibility, scalability; like every other great product, SharePoint also has a few disadvantages:
- Cost factor: custom designing an intranet on SharePoint can be very expensive and unaffordable for small companies. You may even have to hire a SharePoint expert to configure, maintain and manage upgrades. This is unrealistic for an SMB.
- Complexity factor: As one user put it, “SharePoint can do almost everything, but not too easily or well”. In a day and age where companies want to collaborate easily and need products that are simple and intuitive, SharePoint is a giant which needs a certified individual who can configure it and make it usable.
- High-maintenance factor: because it is so complex, SharePoint sucks up a lot of time and resources to maintain. According to a survey conducted by Osterman Research, IT executives reported that 43% of businesses find the initial rollout difficult and 46% of businesses find managing its content updates as challenging.
- Uneducated decision: businesses may have purchased SharePoint because it looked attractive and fit a couple of its core needs. But without thoroughly assessing their needs and understanding the complexity and vastness of SharePoint, it would be like “biting more than you can chew”.
What are some SharePoint alternatives?
A company intranet is a secure place where users communicate, collaborate, store documents and share information with each other. If, along with cloud storage, these are your only other requirements, there are a ton of tools in the market which offer enterprise-level encryption at an affordable price.
- Dropbox – a document storage and team collaboration platform on the cloud.
- Google for Work – a suite of productivity apps provided by Google which are optimized for business use. Google provides tools for email, file sharing, real time document management, and communication, all which can be accessed from any location and any device.
- Box for Business – a powerful collaboration platform, which goes beyond file sharing. Along with enterprise security, version control and mobile sync, it also offers project management tools and more.
As you may have noticed, all of the above products are very simplistic. They offer collaboration and document management in the cloud. These maybe your only needs right now but down the line if you need something more complex, these tools will not be able to fulfil those needs.
How do I get the most out of SharePoint?
SharePoint is unique in its depth of functionality, a very large network of developers and third party add-ons that help increase the power of SharePoint.
So if you have already invested in SharePoint and are looking for an alternative because it is hard to work with, difficult to brand, looks ugly, and not user friendly then instead of dumping SharePoint and starting from scratch (which is an expensive option), augment it. Enhance SharePoint with a ready-to-go intranet with an attractive look and feel, ease of use, and many added features not available on base SharePoint.
There are a lot of companies who have invested in developing out-of-the-box intranets on SharePoint and Office 365. These meet 80–100% of your desired feature set and provide:
- Cost reduction – most subscription models are very affordable and you pay as you go
- Quick and easy implementation – be up and running within a few weeks instead of months
- Easy and free upgrades – upgrades are applied automatically so you have the latest and greatest
- Anywhere, anytime access – take it everywhere you go, access it from your desktop, laptop, and any handheld device
- Customizations – tailor the look and feel to fit your corporate branding, organize the site to mimic your organization structure
- Scalability – scale up or down depending on your needs
- Security – housed on Microsoft servers, you get enterprise level security, which could be unaffordable for SMBs
In conclusion, SharePoint is a great platform for hosting your intranet. So, evaluate your needs and budget, research your options and find an intranet product that is the right fit for you.