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Why SharePoint may not be the right solution for your intranet

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It is clear that there are many intranet alternatives to SharePoint that can make it easier to publish content to a well-organized, modern intranet. (For those considering making a change, Brightspot’s white paper on reinventing the intranet offers additional information on what can work best for your business.)

Corporate intranets are a key solution that serve organizations’ most important stakeholders—their employees. Communications teams often rely on intranets to effectively distribute information to employees so they stay informed, aligned and enthusiastic about what's going on with the business. Still, intranets are sometimes seen as little more than digital filing cabinets, though really they’re most effective when treated as another channel that’s an extension of your brand.

In addition to containing the information employees need to succeed in their role, such as details on benefits, intranets that go above and beyond have features such as the ability to securely engage with coworkers. McKinsey Global Institute found that the average knowledge worker spends almost 20% of their work week searching for internal information, or trying to find colleagues for help and collaboration. Boosting the ability to communicate and collaborate internally can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25%.

It’s clear that having a useful, forward-looking intranet solution can make it easier for employees to execute on digital transformation initiatives that benefit the entire organization. COVID-19 has only amplified the importance of a strong intranet, with Brightspot finding that 70% of teams now say their intranet CMS is valuable. If you’re familiar with intranet solutions, it’s likely that you’ve used or heard of SharePoint. As one of the more common intranet options, SharePoint offers a few core benefits to organizations, though it’s important to also consider why it might not be the best intranet solution for your business

Evaluating common intranet provider SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is widely used as an intranet, with half of IT employees in a Brightspot survey reporting that it is the intranet provider for their organization. SharePoint has been around for a long time, so it is what many organizations are used to using. Additionally, there are many resources for using it as an intranet, especially given it’s easy to find developers who know how to work with the technology. SharePoint intranet can be a good fit for basic use cases, as it makes it possible to create a usable intranet straight out of the box, while also offering further customization.

Other key capabilities of SharePoint intranet include powerful search, rich content management and integration with systems and other CRM, business intelligence and program management tools. Additionally, SharePoint has introduced cloud intranet plans designed to fit a variety of budgets.

Shortcomings of SharePoint as an intranet

Despite the benefits, while nearly half of IT employees reported using their SharePoint intranet, less than 30% of line-of-business employees agreed—indicating that SharePoint is often seen as complicated by employees outside of IT, and not considered a valuable solution to address their business needs. Furthermore, a report published by AIIM found that two-thirds of the organizations using SharePoint feel that inadequate training and complexity in navigating the platform cause low adoption rates. There are a number of concerns that are often raised about SharePoint intranet:

  • SharePoint can often seem more like a standalone document repository rather than a dynamic intranet site, and efforts to upgrade it can be challenging. The solution’s modern sites offering enables the creation of attractive, sleek intranets; however a key design shortfall is that it’s not possible to add a subsite within the modern site template, and modern sites do not allow features like security and navigation inheritance through subsites.
  • SharePoint has many built-in features, which can get overwhelming and lead to confusion for those implementing and navigating the intranet. It was built to be customized, and the out-of-the-box option is rarely used without some customization. However, with customization comes added costs and time, and it’s even recommended to allow at least one year for proper SharePoint intranet customization to be completed.
  • Developing and managing the platform usually requires advanced technical skills. Companies must have their own SharePoint developer, a pro IT consultant, or an intranet service provider to assist in maintaining the platform. When using outside help, quality and prices can vary.  
  • There’s often a lack of meaningful integration into other services that employees rely on to get their jobs done. Since SharePoint is a Microsoft product, its integrations are fairly tightly coupled to other Microsoft products.
  • While SharePoint has the apparatus to publish content on an intranet, it’s not the primary focus like it is for Brightspot, so publishing on the intranet can be challenging.  

Brightspot as an intranet alternative to SharePoint

Brightspot has worked with the communications teams of some of the world’s best-known corporate brands, and the newsrooms of many large media publishers. Combining this expertise, we’ve learned what makes a great intranet for organizations and publishers. Our solution allows companies to create a distinctive intranet site that is unique to their organization and employee needs, and works in harmony with the corporate site.

A key differentiator is that, with Brightspot, your intranet and your CMS have the same source (regardless if your architecture setup is decoupled, headless CMS or a hybrid approach), offering true integration for faster publishing on the intranet. Brightspot also becomes the customer’s platform, extending with your business logic and workflow, and designed to grow with your content business. Where before you might have had to make changes to fit a SharePoint intranet, Brightspot’s solution molds to fit your organization’s needs and setup.

The Brightspot intranet solution is out of the box, so it can be flexible and cost-effective.

Brightspot CMS offers:

  • Fast setup from start to finish, and easy authentication with existing systems 
  • Pre-configured templates and componentS, alongside powerful migration tools
  • An easy-to-learn publishing platform that ensures interoperability with existing and evolving tech stacks, requiring minor support from the IT department
  • Headless solutions that allow organizations to integrate proprietary sources, enterprise applications and other software to create a unified intranet without back-end challenges 
  • Robust search capabilities, including global, contextual and federated search, allowing users to have full visibility, insight and control of content
  • Automation tools to eliminate manual tasks, reduce mistakes and speed migration, allowing for faster go-to-market capabilities

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