SharePoint pros and cons: who should use it?

By Darian Mavandad
January 13, 2023
5 min read
Collaboration planning

In part two of our blog series exploring the choice of SharePoint for your organization’s intranet, we’ll dive deeper into SharePoint pros and cons  and if it should be your only intranet software. Of course, SharePoint’s pros and cons are not wholly objective, so we’ll provide some reasoning that you can apply to your intranet project requirements and make an informed and logical decision.

If you haven’t read part one of the blog series, start there to learn about intranets and SharePoint in a more general sense. If you’d like to have all the info discussed in this blog, the last, and the next, download our free eBook, which this blog series is based on! With that out of the way, let’s take an in-depth look at SharePoint intranets.

Old vs. new SharePoint intranets

In the previous blog in the series, we discussed custom vs. out-of-the-box intranets—and the different values and drawbacks that come with them. If you are shopping for a new intranet, the SharePoint versions you’re most likely looking at are SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2019 (the latter of which is on-premise). Both versions of “New SharePoint”, or “SharePoint Modern”, are classified as “out-of-the-box”—even though that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have all the core intranet features built-in (more on that in a bit).

Suppose you’re using an older, pre-existing version of SharePoint and hoping to update and modernize it. In that case, you are looking at a more “custom” intranet and one that will demand the costs, maintenance, and technical knowledge associated with it. Let’s look at what both have to offer a bit more in-depth.

New SharePoint pros and cons

Con: missing features

New SharePoint is a very good but very simplistic intranet. It is geared more towards addressing the technical pain points an intranet may solve (collaboration and integrations) and doesn’t put an equal emphasis on the employee experience and engagement aspects of an intranet. What is great for IT is not so great for internal comms. Here is a breakdown of some of the features internal communicators, or those adjacent to such roles, will sorely miss using modern SharePoint:

  • Segregated, targeted news. While SharePoint modern has a news feed, you can’t break it down into separate feeds for different audiences to make it more digestible. A great example of the benefits of distinct news feeds comes from one of our customers, LOC Credit Union.
  • Employee blogs, Q&As, polls, surveys. These are all things that can bring a sense of community to your organization, especially if you operate from multiple branches or locations.
  • A place to celebrate employee birthdays, milestones, and work wins. Recognition goes a long way to aiding in retention.
  • Features that support personalization, including custom links to apps, targeting content to specific groups, and the aforementioned news feeds.

Pro: modern design, collaboration, and document management

Of course, it is up to you to compare the value your intranet will bring on your intranet buyer’s journey vs. the costs. And in specific cases, perhaps these missing features are not “such a big deal,” and in others, they may be insurmountable drawbacks. When comparing SharePoint’s pros and cons, the most apparent benefit is document management, which is built-in to your Microsoft Office platform. Some other benefits include the following:

  • Modern, basic design
  • Empowers teams to manage their own sites
  • Good for team-based collaboration and document sharing
  • Central area for policies and procedures

Undoubtedly, being within an ecosystem, in this case Microsoft, has its immediate and noticeable benefits. Again, it is up to you to decide whether the SharePoint benefits outweigh the SharePoint caveats.

Also, note that we are only discussing here the two latest versions of SharePoint. It is yet to be known how long and money-intensive upgrading from these new versions of SharePoint (online or on-premise) will be when new versions become available, and your team would ultimately be responsible for making that change when the time came, which can be its own challenge. Even new, set-up to launch of your brand new intranet will be a lengthy process with modern SharePoint, another point of consideration.

Old/legacy SharePoint pros and cons

Con: expensive & time-consuming upgrade process

If you already have an existing SharePoint intranet purchased a while ago, you may think that upgrading and updating your SharePoint intranet may be the best and cheapest path forward. Reader, you’d be wrong. Upgrading an older SharePoint intranet can be just as time and money-consuming as setting up a brand-new custom intranet! Here are all the cases where you may think upgrading your SharePoint intranet will be the best path forward:

  • Upgrading a SharePoint intranet from an old version to a newer version, which can effectively be like starting from scratch
  • Moving over from classic to modern, which again can be effectively the equivalent of a whole new intranet project
  • Moving from online to on-premises, again effectively starting again
  • Adding new features to a SharePoint intranet.

To do any of the above, you will need (perhaps extensive) technical help from someone with deep SharePoint expertise. As we mentioned in part one of this series, this can cost approximately $197,820 USD or more, based on our own independent research.

Pro: document management & collaboration capabilities

The pros of a SharePoint intranet of yesteryear—should you have the time and money to upgrade it—are largely similar to those of SharePoint modern. You will have built-in document management and enjoy the benefits of remaining within your Microsoft ecosystem—(although at a cost that may be eye-watering).

Are SharePoint pros and cons giving you a headache?

We have the antidote. Intranet software like Intranet Connections makes it far easier to upgrade and add new features; in fact, our software is bundled with over 100 apps, so many are already ready to be added. Customers also regularly request new features, which are often built and rolled into the product, which is a win-win. To see these 100 apps in action and learn more about our pricing (which starts at only $9,600USD), book a demo! To learn more about evaluating SharePoint intranets, read our free eBook!

Stay tuned for part three in this series, where we will discuss SharePoint alternatives and how to evaluate them!

By Darian Mavandad

Darian has a degree from McGill University, and joined IC to empower internal communicators by creating content that inspires. In his free time, he loves traveling, reading, and skiing.