Microsoft SharePoint is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. But the reasons companies and their staff find fault in the platform come in their droves, and a lot of the frustrations are business critical.
People say: “no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft” (the phrase has evolved over time since the original IBM), but in today’s modern workplace this excuse simply doesn’t hold up anymore. Just because a software system has become the default choice in the industry, doesn’t mean it’s the best solution for your unique business requirements. Indeed, a software solution should be implemented only after careful research in line with your business goals and what you want to achieve. In some cases, SharePoint may well fit the bill, but based on a recent survey by AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) and real-life user feedback, a good SharePoint alternative is desperately needed.
What is SharePoint anyway?
It’s complicated. Very complicated. A general consensus amongst SharePoint users is that the platform is too complex, providing multiple tools that don’t “flow” together. But before we dive into user feedback, let’s take a look at what SharePoint actually provides.
SharePoint Online is Microsoft’s SaaS solution, providing companies with a monthly subscription to their services. This means that the system is hosted by Microsoft, rather that within your business’s infrastructure.
There are three SharePoint Online plans, varying in costs per user and the applications that are provided. For anyone interested in purchasing SharePoint, trying to find a clear guide to the apps available is rather difficult, but basic tools that are bundled in are document management, content management, search, and team sites. Purchasing the most expensive Enterprise plan will also give you Office 365 integration.
SharePoint Server is the on-premise solution, where the client hosts the platform on their own IT infrastructure. Clients will pay for a license to host SharePoint, as well as a cost per number of users.
Again, the features that come with SharePoint Server will depend on the chosen package; the Standard solution comes with the basic set of tools that are available in SharePoint Online, whereas the Enterprise version will include additional apps such as better searching.
In terms of installation, a SharePoint consultant will need to be recruited or contracted to setup the platform on your infrastructure. This is just one of the hidden costs of implementing SharePoint – but more on that later.
The case of the missing apps
SharePoint is considered to be a massive platform containing any tool imaginable. But actually there are large gaps in functionality missing, with a noticeable lack of productivity and social apps.
Absent absence planner
Holiday planner software is critical for human resources to manage employee leave requests – but it’s completely absent from SharePoint out-of-the-box. One of the key benefits of intranets for HR is an automated holiday request process, where staff can submit requests, and HR can approve or decline with a click of a button. This process, which could take weeks to handle manually, can be done in mere minutes with the right app. For something so key to be missing from core SharePoint features seems like a massive oversight. SharePoint users who want a holiday planner tool will need to hire a SharePoint specialist to build a customised workflow for them, or pay for a SharePoint consultant to train the admin team how to do it themselves (either way, another hidden cost).
Social goes AWOL
Similarly, corporate social networking tools aren’t present out of the box. Instead, integration with external apps such as Yammer needs to be implemented by a SharePoint specialist. By bringing in external tools, users report a disconnected experience that doesn’t flow as intuitively as other platforms.
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
It’s also interesting to note that features such as enterprise search, indexing, and dashboards are only available on the priciest package. Tools like these come as standard with many intranet providers, including Claromentis, so why not SharePoint?
SharePoint user frustrations
It’s no secret that SharePoint clients, from the IT team to the end user, have voiced their fair share of frustrations with the platform. AIIM found in their recent survey, The Impact of SharePoint 2016, that a staggering 40% of companies say their SharePoint implementation was unsuccessful. Inadequate user training (67%), a difficult to use platform (66%), and lack of support (64%) were cited as top reasons for SharePoint projects stalling or failing.
Online community forum, Quora, provides endless end-user perspectives into the daily battles of using SharePoint. The most common concerns were:
- There is no training once SharePoint is installed. An external consultant needs to be brought in to train administrators how to use the system.
- The core framework keeps changing with each version, making it confusing to use.
- The deployment takes longer and costs more than their company was led to believe, resulting in the ROI being less than expected.
- Without extensive time, effort, and expense, the platform is under-utilised.
- There are many hidden costs that aren’t disclosed upfront.
- There is a lack of customisable branding. Specialist UX designers are needed to customise on-premise installations, and SharePoint Online cannot be customised out of the box.
- The platform isn’t as mobile-friendly as other intranet providers.
- The inclusion of collaboration and communication tools is unclear due to lack of training about how it can be managed.
SharePoint is more expensive than you think
If businesses are happy to use SharePoint Online out of the box, without any customisations or additional training, then of course it can be a very effective solution, especially for organisations that already rely on Microsoft services such as Office 365.
However, for customers who need SharePoint Server or additional personalisation, it isn’t as simple as purchasing a license or paying a monthly subscription. Hidden costs such as external consultancy, development, training, and design quickly stack up to a huge bill, not to mention the additional maintenance required to keep the platform up to date. Companies who recruit an internal SharePoint Consultant are looking at spending an average of £62k ($83k) every year, and those who want customisations and third party integrations will need to hire a SharePoint Developer, which is at least another £52k ($67k) a year.
The SharePoint costs you don’t see
SharePoint Consultant: £57,500 – £77,500 a year ($75,000 – $100,500)
SharePoint Developer: £47,500 – £67,500 a year ($61,600 – $87,600)
SharePoint Designer: £40,000 – £76,500 a year ($52,000 – $99,300)
SharePoint Administrator: £37,500 to £50,000 a year ($48,800 – $65,100)
Total: £182,000 – £271,500 ($237,400 – $352,500) for SharePoint specialists + licensing costs + user costs
Claromentis: A refreshing alternative
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve better. You can get more from an intranet than you ever thought possible.
Claromentis provide a complete digital workplace, which comes with four integrated platforms as standard. No fuss, no confusion, and no hidden costs.
Multiple platforms, one digital workplace
All of our core features are just that; core. You won’t find any missing add-ons, and any third-party integrations you need can be sorted by our in-house development team.
Not only that, each and every intranet can be customised with your company branding, ensuring your intranet reflects your business and its unique character.
A Claromentis digital workplace is a holistic platform consisting of multiple productivity apps. And yes, that means a holiday planner, social tools, and enterprise search are available as standard.
Easy to use
Unlike SharePoint, your teams don’t need a technical background or specialist knowledge to use Claromentis. There is no limitation on who can manage your intranet; employees from absolutely any area of your company, from human resources, to marketing, and IT can get involved.
Flexible hosting options
Like SharePoint, Claromentis provide two flexible hosting options: SaaS (hosting in the cloud), and on-premise (hosting on your infrastructure). Unlike SharePoint, Claromentis will do all the setup for you, whichever hosting option you go for.
If you decide that cloud hosting is for you, our technical support team can simply spin up a server quicker than you can say “Claromentis is awesome”. If you want to host the platform yourself, our technical supporters will install everything on your infrastructure.
Design your own intranet, or we’ll do it for you
Our on-premise and SaaS solutions can both be customised to match your company branding. Better still, you have the option of customising your own intranet using our intuitive design tool, or you can let us do it for you. There’s no need to have HTML or CSS knowledge, and no need to hire an external contractor. So it’s win-win, whichever path you choose.
In-house training as standard
Users can start using Claromentis after just two training sessions with our in-house trainer. Training resources, such as user guides, articles, and videos are available to all users on our support portal from the word “go”.
Support and maintenance are key for business critical solutions like intranet software. That’s why we have a dedicated in-house support team who can help you get your platform up and running smoothly.
No hidden costs
Our pricing is simple. All our costs are upfront from the day you sign up. You’ll know exactly what you are paying for, without any risk that you’ll receive an unexpected bill. You won’t need to fork out for external consultants either, saving you up to £271,500 ($352,500) a year on extra staff.
Like any worthwhile investment, you need to ensure the software you are purchasing will fulfil your business requirements. This means you need to define your business goals, and assess if the software has the right tools to meet these. So if your focus is on increasing collaboration, then you need a platform which provides both social and productivity tools.
SharePoint can of course work for some businesses, especially those whose focus is on document management and integrating existing Microsoft services such as Office 365. However, for businesses who require productivity, social, collaboration, and efficiency tools, SharePoint simply isn’t going to cut it without major time, money, and effort spent on customisations.
The financial burden of SharePoint exclude start-ups and SMEs with smaller budgets, as the costs are simply far too high. Equally, enterprise businesses with multiple objectives may not want to invest in a platform which is so time-intensive, and yet lacks the tools they need to work efficiently. Indeed, businesses and end-users are recognising the frustrations of using SharePoint, and seeking a better and brighter intranet.
A Claromentis digital workplace is a refreshing SharePoint alternative that is suitable for businesses of any size and sector. With 600,000 users worldwide, Claromentis have provided beautifully designed and comprehensive business solutions for the past 20 years – so we know a thing or two about what makes the perfect intranet.