The Pros and Cons of Microsoft SharePoint
A brief guide to this mega-player in the enterprise intranet world

The modern intranet marketplace is a competitive one. There are many fine intranet platforms out there, each with their particular strengths and weaknesses. But for all of us, there's no avoiding the 800-pound gorilla in the room - Microsoft SharePoint. At SMLWRLD, we spend a lot of time talking about SharePoint, and we thought it might be worth discussing the features, pros and cons of this digital behemoth.

We are, naturally, a little biased in our attitude towards the market-leading tool, but we genuinely do like Microsoft and their vast portfolio of software - we use much of it ourselves in our day-to-day work, and after all, our SMLWLRD platform is based entirely on a Microsoft tech stack, including our Azure cloud hosting.

So here is our run-down of the beast that is SharePoint and how it compares to our SMLWRLD Unlimited platform for enterprise-level intranets.

SharePoint SMLWRLD Unlimited
Powerful, robust, secure, highly scalable platform Powerful, robust, secure, highly scalable platform
Difficult/expensive to customise. Often 3rd parties involved to achieve this, resulting in additional costs on top of license fees. Highly flexible, easily customiseable. Designed for continuous adaptations in line with changing business needs. Full front-end freeform page builder interface for admins.
Seamlessly integrates with MS product portfolio (O365, Teams, OneDrive etc.) Built on MS tech stack. Plays nicely with SharePoint. SSO via AD, ADFS or AzureAD.
Requires a large IT / developer overhead to maintain Self Service, SaaS, full account manager support from SMLWRLD
On-Premise or Cloud Cloud (Microsoft Azure)
$20 / user / month for Enterprise plan (no bulk discounts) £20 / user / month (for 100 users - substantial bulk discounts available for >100 users)
Primarily a document management tool Many tools, based around 4 key pillars: Communication, Collaboration, Content/document Management, Forms/Workflow.
Poor end-user experience. Difficult to navigate. Easily becomes a badly organised mess. Beautifully designed and built by UX professionals. Work is pleasure. Ease of navigation, an intuitive information architecture and a focus on excellent web content practices are at the core of every implementation.
Content "belongs" to a specific page. Cannot appear in multiple places without duplication Single items of content "bubble up" to whichever pages are relevant.
Limited/No MS support for implementation SMLWRLD fixed price professional implementation. Fully researched and built to the bespoke needs of every organisation.
Terrible search (sorry Microsoft!) Easily find anything in seconds using the world-class SMLWRLD Global Search.
Difficult/expensive to apply corporate look-and-feel. Still looks like Sharepoint with different colours. Every intranet original, unique, and is fully designed according to the branding guidelines of the company by our web design experts.
Can enforce specific security requirements Comprehensive permissions system, modelled on SharePoint. Ultra-secure and totally granular.
New version every 3 years. Complex and expensive migration required for each upgrade, resulting in many businesses still using (very) old versions. Platform under continuous development. All new features available immediately to all clients. No migrations. Ever.
Loved by IT departments because it fits right into a Microsoft-based IT ecosystem. Hated by staff and end users. Poor engagement. Loved by staff/end users because it looks and feels gorgeous. Information/communication freely flows throughout the organisation. High engagement.
A significant amount of training is required by admins and end users in order to ensure it is used correctly. End users require no training. We provide as standard some basic "writing good web content" training to key content owners - this further assists us towards our goal of truly excellent information and knowledge management.

To supplement these pros and cons, here are some questions that we are commonly asked, along with our responses:

Q. SharePoint is great for editing and collaborating on documents via Word/Excel Online etc. Can you do that on SMLWRLD Unlimited too?

A. What Microsoft has developed with their online tools such as Word/Excel is outstanding. We'd never try to compete with that. We do, however integrate seamlessly with your O365 environment via SSO, so while we'd recommend "living" documents to be stored there (via OneDrive, Teams or the free SharePoint online), we can offer seamless links from your SMLWRLD Unlimited intranet - taking advantage of our much better search, useability and overall user experience. The vast majority of enterprise content is not under live collaboration. For this our powerful content management tools (including full Digital Asset Management and document versioning) offer the best solution for efficiently storing - and finding again - your vast amount of static internal knowledge.

Q. We use SharePoint - it's Microsoft after all, and seems like a safe bet. Why shouldn’t we just carry on with it?

A. You know the old saying: “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”, which wouldn’t be said seriously these days. Microsoft may seem like the safe choice, but how's that working out for you? SharePoint can be done well, but it requires an enormous amount of effort from a dedicated team, without which it can become a free-for-all of duplicated and messy content. Add to this the lack of any consistent navigational structure (SharePoint is based on a hierarchy of Sites, which can quickly become a rabbit-warren of clicking around and getting lost) and a terrible search (sorry Microsoft, but it's so hard to find what you are looking for using the search), and organisations can quickly start to suffer from serious information paralysis. SMLWRLD Unlimited intranets are designed and built fully bespoke for each organisation. We spend a substantial amount of time with every customer researching and interviewing stakeholders and staff. We then apply our expertise in UX and service design to create a simple and durable information architecture which pervades the entire intranet. Users never get lost and can quickly find the information they require. Our search works too.


 

SMLWRLD intranets

SMLWRLD’s new SaaS intranets start at £180/annum for SMEs. Pricing for enterprises with over 100 users will vary. A 30% reduction on all pricing plans is available for public sector and not for profit organisations. A full breakdown of pricing can be found on the SMLWRLD pricing page.

 

About SMLWRLD

SMLWRLD is a London-based SaaS intranet provider, with team members working around the globe. In addition to delivering seamless internal communications, knowledge management, collaboration and transactional tools, SMLWRLD intranets are a vital tool for businesses in their quest for sustainability, staff wellbeing and greater Corporate Social Responsibility. To find out more, contact SMLWRLD Managing Director Dan Jones at contact@smlwrld.io or on +44 (0)207 502 3591.


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Published On

21/08/2020

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Start date:
18/09/2020