For those unfamiliar, we’ll start with an introduction to Microsoft SharePoint itself, including its pros and cons as an intranet solution. If you already know you want something else, skip ahead and jump straight to the list of top-rated SharePoint intranet alternatives.
Table of contents: the best SharePoint alternatives
- How can you build a SharePoint intranet for your business?
- Why companies are seeking SharePoint alternatives
- Common challenges faced by SharePoint users
- Qualities to consider in a SharePoint alternative
- Top-rated SharePoint alternatives
- Benefits of switching from a SharePoint intranet to a modern intranet solution
- Case studies of businesses using a SharePoint intranet alternative
What is Microsoft SharePoint?
Microsoft SharePoint dates all the way back to 2001, six years before the release of the very first iPhone and the first version of the Amazon Kindle. It started out as a tool for building websites, but companies could use it to build intranets too. Since then, SharePoint has evolved through SharePoint Designer (last released in 2013), SharePoint Server, and now SharePoint or Sharepoint in Microsoft 365.
What is SharePoint intranet and how does it work?
Microsoft SharePoint intranet is a tool that lets companies create an internal, company-only network for collaboration and communication. Examples of SharePoint intranet features include document storage, task management, and team sites, among others. If you’re considering a SharePoint intranet, it comes in two varieties: SharePoint or SharePoint in Microsoft 365.
SharePoint in Microsoft 365: custom intranet
SharePoint in Microsoft 365’s “out-of-the-box” intranet solution is a bundle of eleven different Microsoft products that you have to put together to form a more complete intranet solution. If you want to build a custom intranet, these tools let you design and build a lot of what you might want, but the work and maintenance can be labor-intensive.
Here’s the official list of what comes with SharePoint in Microsoft 365 today:
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Lists
- Publisher (PC only)
- Access (PC only)
How can you build a SharePoint intranet for your business?
If you’re wondering how to build a SharePoint intranet for your business, the answer depends on what you hope to create. Because SharePoint is a bundle of either three or eleven Microsoft products, it takes significant work just to connect them all together. Plus, because each product is designed to be a tool that companies can use to build something else, creating the intranet you want using Microsoft’s tool suite can be a challenge.
Think about using Microsoft Word, for example. You can create just about any document you can imagine in Word, with any kind of look or feel—it’s designed for that—but it won’t create the document for you. You have to figure out what you want, and then you have to figure out how to build it. Templates can help, but figuring out how to use Word is literally a college-level course at many universities.
Microsoft’s intranet tool suite is very similar—but at least eleven times more complicated. Imagine learning eleven different Microsoft products, each of which is at least as complicated to use as Word, and you’ll start to get a feel for what it means to build a SharePoint intranet.
Why companies are seeking SharePoint alternatives
For people who have spent their entire lives working with the Microsoft suite of products, the SharePoint eleven-point software bundle might at least feel like a familiar solution. But those Microsoft tools are designed to integrate best with each other, not with external applications. In a modern tech stack, that just isn’t realistic.
Companies today use many popular tools and solutions to cover a wide range of needs, and most modern businesses want to be free to change tools or upgrade to new services as needed. They aren’t looking for a one-stop shop where they can get everything—because that only gives them one option for each need.
What if a company wants to use Google for calendars and email, Slack for messaging, and Zoom for video conferencing? In the SharePoint universe, picking and choosing among different solutions for different problems just isn’t the model.
Common challenges faced by SharePoint users
The first and probably biggest drawback of Microsoft SharePoint is that it isn’t an intranet solution in and of itself. It’s a way to build an intranet—which takes a lot of time and work. Even once it’s built, that custom intranet solution will still take a lot of IT time and resources to support and maintain, so SharePoint solutions come with significant costs that aren’t immediately obvious.
Third-party review site G2 turned up a few more drawbacks to using SharePoint intranet. The initial rollout is reported to be time-consuming, with a rating of only 7.1 out of 10 for ease of setup, well below the average employee intranet rating of 8.6 on that same site.
Unfortunately, SharePoint’s usability rating doesn’t fare much better, with a rating of just 7.7 against an average of 8.7. Specific complaints included advanced features being difficult to use and a subpar user interface. The quality of Microsoft’s SharePoint support came in a bit stronger at 7.9, but that was still below the average of 8.8.
The SharePoint intranet homepage
In theory, the SharePoint intranet homepage serves as a centralized location to bring all those Microsoft tools together. In practice, however, the integrations take time to set up, and the individual tools are complex and time-consuming to learn. Plus, having bought a pre-packaged bundle of eleven software product subscriptions, companies can feel locked into all of them, unwilling to spend budget on other tools that might help employees be more productive and efficient.
The SharePoint intranet HR portal
Another challenge faced by SharePoint intranet users is the lack of native integrations with popular HR solutions. SharePoint lets you build your own HR system in SharePoint from the ground up using templates as a starting point, but given the power and complexity of today’s HR tech solutions, building your own system isn’t exactly optimal. If you want to use something like Workday instead, you can code a custom integration for external software using API calls, but that takes a lot of technical know-how.
Exploring SharePoint alternatives
So, what are the alternatives to Microsoft SharePoint? And how do you know what to look for? That depends on what you’re hoping to accomplish. The following SharePoint alternatives all have something to offer. Whether or not they would be a good fit simply depends on what you need.
Qualities to consider in a SharePoint alternative
If you’re contemplating a switch from SharePoint, the question isn’t necessarily what specific features you need in an alternative solution. It’s more a matter of what will integrate with the tools you already have—and what can be deployed quickly and easily without custom building—so you can spend fewer internal resources building and maintaining a custom solution. When comparing prices, take a full measure of the hours IT spends today on custom work, IT tickets, and routine maintenance.
Top-rated SharePoint alternatives
In no particular order, here are our seven top-rated SharePoint alternatives — including full intranets and tools for knowledge management, content management, collaboration, communication and more — with user rating information based on reviews left on G2:
Confluence is a collaborative knowledge management software that lets users create, organize, and share content, such as documents, meeting notes, project plans, and more.
- Offers a centralized platform for collaborative work
- An organized, structured space for knowledge sharing and documentation
- Integration with other tools and software, such as Jira for project management
- Customizable templates and macros for consistent, professional-looking content
- Robust permission settings to control who can access, edit, and create content
- Confluence software can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses
- The learning curve for less tech-savvy users might be steep
- Can be challenging to maintain as content grows over time
- Configuring and customizing Confluence may require technical expertise
A project management and productivity tool that helps users organize tasks, collaborate, track progress, and streamline workflow processes.
- Effective task management tools with notably customizable views
- Efficient time tracking and reporting
- Integrates with popular communication tools
- Can have a steep learning curve for new users
- May be too complex for basic needs, with a potential for information overload
- Can slow down when implemented at scale
3. Google Workspace
A cloud-based productivity suite that includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Calendar, and more for collaboration, communication, and productivity.
- Excellent for real-time or asynchronous collaborative work
- Cloud-based storage lets teams work from anywhere, even on mobile devices
- Strong scalability
- Does not include as many feature options as some other tools
- Some niche publishing solutions integrate more cleanly with Microsoft Word
A cloud-based platform for the storage and sharing of content and other unstructured data.
- Excellent for file sharing and file storage
- Rated well by users for performance and reliability
- Users rate it below average for simultaneous editing
- Users rate it slightly below average for searchability
A platform for external collaboration that brings teams or groups together virtually to work on projects, share information, and communicate—features include document sharing, task management, video conferencing, and messaging
- File sharing and communication with advanced security features
- Designed specifically for regulated industries
- Advanced security and compliance assurance may not be necessary for all companies
- May not offer all the features or customization options to meet specific team needs
A cloud-based collaboration tool that helps teams communicate, share files, and collaborate in real-time, with user-created channels for specific topics or projects, direct messages, and various integrations with other tools and platforms
- User-friendly and easy to navigate
- Quicken and efficient communication with strong searchability
- Offers a wide range of integrations
- The number of channels and DM lists can be overwhelming without strong governance
- If employees are expected to answer all Slack messages immediately, switching back and forth between tasks and messaging can cause severe inefficiencies
A modern, AI-powered, employee intranet that helps companies centralize their resources, foster collaboration, and keep teams connected—includes robust analytics, AI-powered personalization, and auto-governance that keeps content fresh
- A complete intranet solution with excellent scalability
- Offers a wide range of built-in integrations, so companies that have been using digital tools don’t need to switch
- Provides a “front door” for the digital workplace, acting as a clean, organized portal for integrated tools and solutions, company news, HR tools, social networking, and more
- Best for larger organizations (100 employees minimum)
- If a company has truly unique needs that must be met with a custom solution, building an intranet rather than buying it may be the way to go—but only if the organization can be sure that the added costs of time and internal resources merit that choice
Benefits of switching from a SharePoint intranet to a modern intranet solution
Improving business agility with a modern intranet
The truth is, modern intranet platforms like Simpplr really aren’t in direct competition with SharePoint. SharePoint is for organizations that believe building and maintaining a custom solution—and all the internal resources that are required—is the only way to solve their unique problems. For any organization that isn’t forced by circumstance to build a custom intranet, it’s simply easier and less expensive to buy it.
Learn whether to build to buy an intranet for your enterprise
Effective intranet governance: Best practices for intranet management
Although intranet management often focuses on publishing new content, effective intranet governance is at least as much about updating and removing content, if not more so. An important best practice for successful intranet management is not to let intranet bloat take over. That means making sure that outdated information isn’t taking up digital storage space and leading people astray.
Simpplr’s intranet offers auto-governance, sending automatic reminders to content authors to update or delete old content, and using the power of AI to keep your corporate intranet from slowly turning into a junk drawer.
Case studies of businesses using a SharePoint intranet alternative
CooperCompanies: Transitioning from SharePoint’s content dumping ground to a unified digital experience with Simpplr
CooperCompanies (“Cooper,” NYSE: COO) is a global medical device company that operates through two business units, CooperVision and CooperSurgical. With a workforce of some 14,000 employees, SharePoint had already become something of a content dumping ground within the company’s tech stack. Cooper was also concerned about making sure the organization could communicate effectively with employees in an emergency.
In searching for an out-of-the-box intranet solution that would integrate with their existing tech stack, Cooper discovered Simpplr. The company chose Simpplr for its ease of use and because it offered a pre-built solution that could be simply configured rather than requiring extensive customization.
CooperCompanies: Read the full Cooper case study.
Quantcast: Creating a “central hub” with Simpplr
Quantcast is the organization behind Q, the world’s largest AI-driven audience behavior platform for the open internet. The company has grown tremendously since its founding in 2006, adopting several different technologies including wikis, Google Drive, SharePoint, and Slack. As a result, employees were sourcing information from different places, and different parts of the organization were using different messaging with customers and prospects.
To solve these problems, Quantcast deployed Simpplr. Thanks to the distributed-ownership platform, the company’s intranet content remains current without taxing IT, keeping everyone on the same page. Simpplr also integrated easily with their existing technologies, and the Customer Success team is keeping teams engaged and connected.
Quantcast: Read the full Quantcast case study.
CrowdStrike: Build (SharePoint) vs Buy (Simpplr)
CrowdStrike’s services lead the industry in next-gen endpoint protection, threat intelligence, and response services. CrowdStrike’s cloud-native technology is designed to halt sophisticated threats and breaches through a combination of malware prevention, endpoint detection and response, and threat hunting. With a workforce that was 70 percent remote, employees struggled to find up-to-date company information on their legacy intranet while content creators faced technical barriers that were just as frustrating.
By implementing Simpplr, CrowdStrike was able to connect its distributed workforce, update its content, and decrease its IT tickets—all with one easy-to-use solution.
CrowdStrike: Read the full CrowdStrike case study.
Ultimately, the question isn’t whether an organization needs SharePoint or Simpplr—it’s whether they want to implement an intranet solution by building it or buying it.
Simpplr lets companies deploy a modern, AI-powered intranet in a fraction of the time it would take to build a custom solution, and it requires far fewer internal resources to maintain over time. It also syncs right out of the box with the tools your employees use every day, including Sharepoint, keeping work organized and aligned in one integrated platform.
To see how Simpplr can save you time and money with an easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use, highly scalable intranet, check out our modern AI-powered intranet solution.