Open Source Alternatives To Sharepoint: How to Choose an Enterprise-ready Intranet Solution
May 27, 2021
By: Stefan Schinkel
An enterprise-ready intranet solution is the backbone of any modern company. It provides employees with a place to collaborate, share information, and stay up-to-date on what's happening in the business.
Microsoft Sharepoint is well established as one of the leading enterprise team collaboration and document management platforms, but it's not without its limitations. Finding the right solution can be a daunting task, especially if you don't have any experience with other intranet software or know what they are capable of doing.
You need to consider many factors before choosing a modern intranet provider. You shouldn’t select a solution just because it's popular or has a significant market share; instead, you need an intranet that adapts to your specific use case.
This article contains tips on choosing a modern intranet solution that will meet your organization's needs and why Sharepoint might not be the right tool for the job.
The Anatomy of an Enterprise-ready Intranet Solution
The first step in selecting the best enterprise-ready intranet solution for your company is understanding why it's important. An intranet can have various benefits for an organization, including streamlining processes and improving collaboration between employees.
It's also important to consider how much time you want to dedicate to managing the system and other factors like security and scalability when deciding on a specific product or vendor.
First of all, it's necessary to say that not all intranets are created equal. Actually, some intranets are nothing more than internal email services with file sharing enabled. Others are more thorough and include document asset management, internal communication tools, integrated security, and content management capabilities. A typical enterprise-ready intranet solution will consist of:
- Network Capabilities: Modern intranets use data protocols and transmission control technologies like PPP or TCP/IP; these are designed to be viewed and used through a web browser.
- Collaboration Tools: Calendars, virtual workspaces, public messaging, and chats to enable enhanced collaboration between team members.
- Internet access: Intranets provide web access to a company network, enabling workers to look for all the information about the company they need to do their job better.
- Security: Companies don't want outsiders snooping around. Intranets also use firewalls to prevent workers from accessing non-work-related websites.
- File-Sharing: Intranets leverage file and asset sharing systems. File-sharing protocols and procedures enable users to create folders opened and accessed by specific users and employees.
- Internal Communication Tools: Modern intranets come with discussion groups, instant messaging, team meetings, and internal web servers to post internal websites for other employees to view out-of-the-box.
The Risks of Using Sharepoint as an Intranet Solution
Like with most Microsoft products, Sharepoint's fame precedes it. While the tool has its strengths, especially when it comes to integrating with Microsoft's full suite of applications, it lacks many of the essential features we've discussed before.
In fact, many companies choose to implement Sharepoint just because it's a Microsoft product and don't consider any alternatives before the solution has been sold and implemented. Then, they realize that what was supposed to be a great collaboration tool has become a nightmare, especially when you try to make it fit for a particular use case.
Let's take a look at why Sharepoint doesn’t cut it as a full-fledged intranet solution.
Customization Can Be A Pain
Let's face it, Sharepoint isn't meant to be customized. It works wonders as a document management system, but if you want to go the extra mile and make it do more than it was intended to, you're going to have a difficult time. Not to mention, Sharepoint customization experts are hard to come by, and the service tends to be on the expensive side.
It Isn't Built With User Experience In Mind
A modern intranet needs to be intuitive. Workers can't —and shouldn't— spend more than a couple of minutes looking for information. Sharepoint is much more technology-centric than user or employee-centric, which makes it clunky and difficult to use, especially for employees who aren't trained or just starting with your company.
Lack of Personalization
Personalization isn't only for marketing purposes. Just as personalized content can boost engagement, personalized intranet content can drive employee engagement. An intranet serves as a content hub that can send relevant, 1-to-1 content, news, and updates to each employee.
Heavy On Your Administrators
Sharepoint tends to be heavy on your administrative staff. The governance of permissions, controls, targeting and technical support can sometimes be too much to handle for any organization regardless of its size. Also, if you don't have the in-house infrastructure to take this on, bringing a consultant will result in an added expense.
You Get Features You Don't Need
Another drawback of Sharepoint is that you don't choose what or when to upgrade. On the contrary, every change and direction in the software comes straight from Microsoft, an entity that likely won’t take your organization into account when deciding about features or ways to handle data.
How To Choose An Enterprise-ready Intranet?
Simply put, an enterprise-ready intranet will help you break down organizational and communication silos. A poorly designed intranet user experience can actually perpetuate silos, which will result in employee frustration and an increase in a project's length and complexity.
A non-enterprise grade intranet will not only result in silos, but it will also be unwieldy and won't enable a properly functioning digital workplace. Some intranets and portals like Sharepoint fall short in fostering the level of integration companies need to thrive in the increasingly disrupted digital ecosystem.
To help you choose the right intranet for your organization, we've created a checklist of fifteen features your intranet needs to have to be considered an enterprise portal.
- Granular permissions
- A website-like user interface
- Support for remote workers or freelancers
- Visual customization
- Employee and office directories
- An event calendar
- A news center for internal announcements
- Employee services such as leave/holiday requests
- Integration with third-party software
- Content repository for documents and policies
- A personalization engine
- Content targeting
- Built-in analytics
- Multilingual support
If you're considering an intranet solution and you noticed that it comes with less than ten of these features, you're in front of a non-enterprise-grade solution, and you'd better choose a new one or risk spending time and money on a solution that you will most likely outgrow in the future.
Read More: Is Your Intranet Digital Workplace-ready
3 Open Source Alternatives To Sharepoint
Sharepoint is a popular enterprise intranet, but it's not open source. Sharepoint intranet can be expensive to license and maintain for the long term, so many CTOs are looking for alternatives to Sharepoint. Open source platforms present a great opportunity for businesses because they offer greater flexibility and customization than proprietary tools.
These are some of the benefits of open source over proprietary software when it comes to intranets:
Lower costs: Open source platforms are more cost-effective than proprietary software.
Extensibility: Open source intranets can be built into and can be extended to maximize growth.
Integrability: The open source architecture enables developers to integrate with other platforms without the constraints of a proprietary solution.
Improved search: A modern intranet needs powerful search capabilities like Elasticsearch for better search options.
Let's take a look at three Sharepoint alternatives and the toughest Sharepoint competitors.
dotCMS is the best alternative to Sharepoint. dotCMS is a Java-based, open source hybrid DXP that enables medium, large, and enterprise-sized businesses to build, manage, and deploy content-based applications such as websites, SPAs, mobile apps, and intranets. The platform also enables centralized content and asset management and omnichannel delivery.
Liferay DXP is a Java-based, enterprise-oriented DXP. As an alternative to Sharepoint, Liferay enables users to set up intranets that behave just like websites built on top of a web application framework. Liferay DXP supports extensibility and works with every programming language capable of running the Java Runtime Environment.
eXo enables teams to connect, align, and engage around a single interface. With eXo, users can improve their peer-to-peer communication and improve collaboration. The intranet platform is a Sharepoint alternative that serves as a social networking platform that includes wikis and task management options. eXo also enables personalization, the creation of new spaces, and third-party integrations.
How dotCMS Revamped An Employee Intranet
Your company's intranet serves as a communication and collaboration hub. Making an intranet a part of your digital workplace enables a much more thorough, direct communication with your employees, which will foster better business outcomes while reducing the need for different software tools to do the same job.
A hybrid CMS and intranet tool like dotCMS enables you to centralize your company-wide communications and enhance your workers' productivity. Plus, a CMS that doubles as a
collaboration software can serve as the foundation stone for better digital experiences.
TELUS chose to move its outdated portal to the AWS-hosted dotCMS Cloud. One of the main drivers of the decision behind moving to dotCMS was the platform's import tool, which enabled the company to migrate its old content to the new CMS effortlessly.
With dotCMS, TELUS strengthened their business to employee experience with updated content, marketing collateral, promotional materials for employees, and the ability to search for documents faster with an intranet.
The company was able to efficiently set up its brands like Koodo, Public Mobile, and TELUS itself within the same system using the dotCMS multisite feature. TELUS also used multilingual features to offer content to the Canadian company's English and French-speaking employees and customers with ease.
If you want to read more about TELUS and how dotCMS created a brand new enterprise intranet for them, read the case study: How TELUS Revamped Its Portal System With dotCMS.