Can SharePoint Serve As A Modern Intranet?
Many organizations have realized in recent years that their legacy intranet solution doesn’t quite cut it for their employees anymore. As they consider how to fix this, most CIOs who have Microsoft 365 licenses immediately wonder if they’ll be able to make it work with the tools included in the suite they’re already paying for.
While this can work for some organizations, many find that it is prohibitively expensive to make it work for their team, due to a lack of several key features that can only be implemented with a significant investment in expertise and consulting.
In this article, we will make the case for a packaged solution such as MangoApps being a better choice for the majority of cases.
But before we jump into that, when does it make sense to go with SharePoint? In our experience, for SharePoint to make sense as your solution of choice, three things must be true:
- Your workforce is predominantly desk-based
- You have a unique use case that can’t be captured by an in-the-box solution without expansive custom development
- You have a large development team and can justify the expense of devoting full-time developers to work on SharePoint exclusively
If you have a large team of frontline workers, SharePoint is going to create a frustrating and inaccessible experience for the majority of your employees. If your intranet needs are in line with most companies in your industry—which is true for something like 90% of organizations—a packaged solution will save you a great deal of pain and money.
And finally, if you don’t have a massive IT consultant budget or a team of developers to devote to the project, you simply won’t be able to make SharePoint work.
Without further ado, here are several reasons that companies who do not fit into the buckets above should consider replacing SharePoint, or not implementing it in the first place.
1) SharePoint Requires A Significant Financial Investment
SharePoint is free on paper, but it requires heavy financial investment to actually make it work for your team – most IT organizations need to dedicate full-time resources to developing, implementing, and maintaining a SharePoint implementation. This is because out of the box, it lacks many features that today’s workforce requires to be efficient.
Deploying SharePoint is a heavy undertaking that is rife with hidden costs. To get the most out of it, you have to bring on consultants and/or full-time specialists. Rolling it out to your team can take a long, long time. This can make it very hard to keep up with the changing demands of the workforce, especially when you have a custom build that can’t easily be updated.
Let’s say you spend the next year working with an expensive consultant to build the perfect SharePoint setup. You roll it out and invest time in training your employees to use the platform effectively. You eat the cost of hiring a small team of SharePoint experts to handle all the upkeep the platform requires.
Now, fast forward a few years. A new version of SharePoint has come out because the old one hasn’t kept up with the rate of technological change. This puts you in an uncomfortable position. You can stick with your old setup, which will eventually become so obsolete that your employees stop using it (if they haven’t already by this point). Otherwise, you’ll have to go through the entire exercise again with the new version and a new consultant.
Read more about the hidden costs of SharePoint.
2) SharePoint Creates A Poor User Experience
SharePoint’s user interface is often a major obstacle for users. It can be difficult for employees to understand how to navigate to the information they are looking for because it has a notoriously poor search function and serves the same content to everyone.
As a result, businesses often end up with poor user adoption and low productivity levels. Thus, the investment that they made to get SharePoint up and running doesn’t provide adequate returns. In fact, it often leads to additional accrued expenses. When businesses invest in SharePoint, they typically end up with low user adoption and engagement rates. Since the platform is difficult to navigate and suffers from poor search capabilities, the enthusiasm for using the platform quickly dissipates.
In addition, SharePoint offers limited mobile collaboration capabilities. This means that frontline workers are isolated from the platform unless they visit a centralized computer to get access. This can significantly hamper employee engagement and contribute to a disengaged & unproductive workforce.
3) SharePoint’s Native Functionality Is Extremely Limited
There are many ways in which the limitations of SharePoint prevent it from being a modern tool. Here are a few examples:
Poor Personalization of the Employee Experience
SharePoint lacks the ability to provide a personalized employee experience. Typically, the platform operates as a ‘catch-all data dump.’ As a result, employees have to sift through irrelevant information to find what they actually need.
A modern intranet should personalize your employees’ content experience based on criteria like job function or location. Without this capability, you’re forcing everyone to waste time cutting through the noise to find relevant materials.
Personalized employee experience is a key value proposition of a modern intranet compared to email or other platforms. SharePoint does not provide the tools to create a curated information experience. Thus, it is not well-equipped to capture and hold the user’s attention.
Think about how your employees are currently consuming information. Is everything they see relevant to their office, job, or department? Or is there information being sent out that only affects one part of your organization’s workforce? These are things you need to consider to provide a personalized employee experience.
Limited Mobile Experience
Another limitation of SharePoint is that it offers a poor mobile experience. Many organizations that implement SharePoint typically don’t have a frontline workforce. The ones that do are completely neglecting a large portion of their workforce, contributing to feelings of disengagement and confusion.
Frictionless intranet access on a mobile device is essential for frontline employees. The mobile experience should include self-service access to key information, real-time messaging, pulse surveys, and targeted news feeds with relevant and actionable information.
SharePoint’s mobile experience is only about being responsive to screen sizes. It does not provide the kind of native mobile-first experience that modern employees expect their employers to deliver.
With SharePoint, you are failing to equip your frontline employees with the proper tools they need to do their jobs. Enabling frontline employees with a seamless mobile experience is critical. This is why we recommend that companies with a mixed workforce consider how the platform will impact all of its employees.
Poor Multi-Channel Communication
SharePoint treats all employees as if they have the same communication needs, resulting in noise and low engagement.
A modern intranet should give you the power to reach employees via channels like SMS messages, email, mobile push notifications, and in-office displays, with flexible notification settings. This way, employees can be reached in the manner that suits each individual best.
With SharePoint, there is no way to individualize these settings. As a result, it is difficult or impossible to implement a sophisticated communication strategy. The reality is that each of your employees prefers to consume information in different ways. Your organization needs to make sure that the information is accessible through whichever avenue they need, whether it’s mobile, email, push notifications, etc.
Poor Content Governance Capabilities
Another problem with SharePoint is that it lacks sufficient content governance capabilities. Initially built as a Content Management System, SharePoint primarily functions as a data dump for all of your organization’s information.
Unfortunately, with SharePoint, there is very little in the way of content governance capabilities. It is almost guaranteed that your intranet will turn into a dumping ground of outdated content eventually. The only way to avoid this is to manually monitor the content and take action to keep it updated. This is no easy undertaking and requires consistent effort over a long period of time with no lapses.
If an employee wants to find a specific document on SharePoint, they’ll likely have to comb through hundreds of irrelevant files and outdated versions of resources to locate it due to issues with SharePoint’s search functionality.
This is time-consuming and can significantly hinder employee productivity.
Inadequate Automation Capabilities
It is crucial to be able to engage with your employees just like your marketing team engages with your customers. This requires some automation capabilities, like being able to plan, schedule, and automate messaging campaigns that go out to your employees when they hit key milestones in the employee journey.
SharePoint does not make it easy to do this without custom development. The accrued cost from building out these automations can be quite high. You’re also going to have to dedicate a large portion of your IT team’s time to maintaining and administering it.
Poor Audience Targeting
SharePoint largely enables communication using an organizational structure that is based on locations, departments, and teams. This is an important component of communication strategy, but it doesn’t always reflect the day-to-day reality of how companies operate.
Barriers To Content Management
Most companies who use SharePoint require IT involvement to populate the platform with content or create pages. This causes busy work for the IT team, slows the pace of business, and creates frustration for business users, who ultimately turn to ad hoc solutions when they need to share files with each other. A modern intranet enables business users to own and manage their own pages and content, which is a better experience for everyone
Poor Search Capabilities
SharePoint’s search functionality has not kept up with the consumer search market, and employees who expect a Google-like experience wind up frustrated by its inability to crawl document contents, understand context, and surface information from multiple sources.
Avoid SharePoint – Opt For A Modern Intranet Instead
By opting for a modern intranet like MangoApps, you can connect and engage your entire workforce within a centralized digital work hub that is accessible anytime, anywhere. You can foster collaboration across teams and reach employees that you may not otherwise have been able to.
Best of all, you can deploy it quickly without an army of consultants, and won’t have to devote developers to keeping it up and running.
A modern intranet can help your organization improve work processes, which ultimately cuts down on wasted time and improves productivity for your employees. For a deeper look into how SharePoint compares to MangoApps and other modern intranet providers, read our whitepaper on the subject. If you’re in the process of researching vendors, our list of SharePoint alternatives is a great place to start, as is the most recent IDC Report.