In the final part of our SharePoint series, we will take a deeper dive into evaluating SharePoint alternatives and understanding their tradeoffs—now that you are familiar with what SharePoint is, and what the pros and cons of a SharePoint intranet are.
Shopping for an intranet is not a small task; we know that better than anyone else. Our team at IC has built a series of free resources that cover almost all aspects of a new intranet project, including the topic of SharePoint intranets. If you want to explore the topics in-depth, you can download and read them free—no email or information required!
This final part of this blog series will explore the following:
- What are the benefits of going with an alternative to SharePoint?
- What intranet features to look for that SharePoint doesn’t have?
- What intranet features to look for that SharePoint does have?
- How to make an informed decision when choosing an intranet provider.
Let’s jump in for the last time!
What are the benefits of going with a SharePoint alternative?
The intranet market features quite a few significant players that, like IC, have been around for a long time. Think of SharePoint as the Starbucks of intranets. Yes, it’s there, it’s accessible, it has brand recognition (Microsoft), and it may be an excellent grab-n-go option. But it lacks that purposeful feel, the feeling of working with baristas passionate about what they do and providing customer experiences that go above and beyond. I’m ending the metaphor there at the risk of getting away from myself. But the point still stands.
What you’re getting with a SharePoint alternative is a homegrown solution built by people who are genuinely passionate about intranets/internal comms and who work with their customers to bring requested features to the platform regularly and speedily to provide the best experience possible.
Crucially, not only are you getting a more customer-focused experience, but you are also not necessarily trading off on features or ease of use!
SharePoint alternatives: what features do they have?
At IC, one of the most significant benefits we provide our customers is our experienced team, who works not only to aid in the technical aspects of intranet setup, management, and optimization—but who also are experienced in the subject of internal comms wholistically and will help you choose channels and apply best practices to your strategy. This intensely hands-on approach is available from some independent intranet providers, whose intranet software isn’t the afterthought within an ecosystem of other services.
Additionally, since you are getting hands-on support from a team of experts, your feedback is taken to heart, and our software team is constantly implementing new intranet features. For example the “trash” feature within IC’s forms app that allows users to restore forms before they are permanently deleted.
Finally, as discussed in the first part of this series, buying software from a reputable software provider means that the intranet will be ready-to-go right out of the box in most cases! Everything is built-in, and it’s up to you which features you want to have “on” from the get-go and which features you can easily activate and implement with a few clicks later.
Unlike SharePoint, upgrading and maintaining an out-of-the-box intranet is more straightforward and cost-effective. To learn more about the true costs of SharePoint, read the first part of this blog series!
SharePoint alternatives: what features don’t they have?
Of course, being objective, there are still some caveats when going with SharePoint alternatives. Intranets are deeply personal to an organization, and there will never be a “one-size-fits-all” solution. When evaluating intranet software, it is up to you to be aware of tradeoffs between software providers.
Should you wish to invest lots of money into your SharePoint intranet, the platform’s customization can be a welcomed benefit. With an out-of-the-box intranet, it is up to an external team of software engineers to implement your feedback and release it back to customers. In comparison, with a custom intranet like SharePoint can be, your in-house engineers can create a bespoke intranet update and implement it entirely themselves, in many cases. Of course, the cost and time commitment will vary in benefit from organization to organization—and having an external software team take care of updates may be very much appreciated!
The biggest benefit of a SharePoint intranet is the built-in document management with Office 365. While other intranet software providers, like IC, provide excellent and useable document management systems, none will be as built-in with Word and Excel as SharePoint is, for obvious reasons. However, many intranet teams use SharePoint for collaborating on documents, but then display final versions of documents on their intranet. This is possible. For example, within Intranet Connections you can easily add links to key Microsoft 365 and SharePoint documents to support collaboration, while final versions of controlled documents such as policies and procedures then housed on the intranet to ensure “one source of truth.”
Perhaps, then, the answer to the question you seek is not “SharePoint vs. SharePoint Alternative,” but “how can I utilize the existing SharePoint platform built-into my Office ecosystem with a purpose-built employee experience and internal communications intranet from a different provider.” You’ll find that several our customers at IC have saved time and money by implementing our software solution on top of their existing SharePoint solution, which was cheaper than customizing and upgrading SharePoint itself!
How to make a more informed decision on SharePoint alternatives
As outlined in our free Modern Intranet Buyer’s Guide, the best way to choose an intranet is to watch demos, get free trials, and ask for social proof. Shortlist intranet vendors, sit down with them to get a feel for how their software works, play around in the trial environment for yourself, and read about the successes of their other customers.
Check out these specific examples of IC customers who used SharePoint previously:
Frankenmuth Credit Union switched from a SharePoint intranet to IC
Hickam Federal Credit Union switched from a custom intranet built with Microsoft to IC
Florence Bank switched from an aging custom-built intranet to IC
Summit Funding switched from a SharePoint intranet to IC
Specialist intranet software like Intranet Connections has been designed specifically around the core features of an intranet. It’s more cost effective, far easier to implement, and is better geared to support internal communications, employee engagement, and being one source
of truth for information. And it can be used in combination with SharePoint, so you can get
the very best out of both platforms. Book a demo with our expert team if you’d like to see our software in action!