So your company has deployed Microsoft’s collaboration platform, SharePoint. It looks kind of like an intranet, and according to the decision makers at your office, it’s practically limitless in terms of what it can do. Plans to upgrade to an employee app have been moved to the backburner so everyone can figure out how to make the most of this new tool. You’re up for trying anything and everything to enhance employee communication at your company, but you’re still wondering if SharePoint is all you need.
Then you do some research and you discover that a lot of enterprise-level businesses are using SharePoint to not only share documents between teams but to publish announcements, memos, and HR docs. That sounds good. But as you dig further, and you discover that the platform is far from perfect. Uh oh! The good news is that it’s never too late to deploy an employee app and that Blink’s employee app can make SharePoint even better.
What SharePoint Is and Isn’t
SharePoint is a collaborative web-based platform that launched in 2001 as document storage, distribution, and management system. Many companies still use it primarily for that feature, though the platform is very flexible and so it can become a de facto intranet for businesses that conduct employee communication primarily via documents.
Does that mean that SharePoint is actually an employee intranet? Kind of. SharePoint was built to provide a secure place to store, organize, share, and access data — but not to empower employees in the way they want.
Let’s take a look at what SharePoint is really good at and where it might leave you hanging.
It is definitely useful for:
Most of SharePoint’s functionality has been built around information management, so it’s useful when it comes to storing and retrieving data, managing and sharing documents, a collaboration between people and teams, and tracking how people are using data. It integrates with Windows and Office seamlessly and can replace an office file server.
A group can edit docs stored in SharePoint in real time, and because the platform can integrate with Outlook and Project, it’s also possible to use it for scheduling.
Offsite File Hosting
Are you looking for a service that will store your company’s files in the cloud? SharePoint combines with other Microsoft Office Servers/Services to do just that. In fact, it can replace services like Dropbox completely.
Managing Information from Other Platforms
Assuming you have a talented development team handy, SharePoint can be used to manage things like corporate directories, user data, and information sources from other applications using the SharePoint Representational State Transfer (REST) service. Developers can build their own SharePoint add-ins and run them to extend the capabilities of the platform.
SharePoint is less useful when:
You’re Looking for a Social Network-Style Intranet
There are ways to use the platform as a social network-style intranet — buying add-ons, using APIs and the REST system — but getting it set up? Isn’t something that you’re going to DIY when you have a spare hour. You’re definitely going to need a developer to set it up.
You Need a User-Friendly Solution
One of the most common complaints people have about SharePoint is that it is hard to understand and to navigate. The fact is that you need a certain degree of technical aptitude to get the most out of it. It’s definitely not a consumer-friendly technology — even right out of the box without any modifications — and that means it’s going to be tough to learn for frontline workers who don’t have a lot of free time to sit down and learn a new piece of tech to adopt.
You’ll Be Deploying and Maintaining It Yourself
You can solve a lot of business problems with SharePoint, assuming you have the manpower and the time and the money. Getting it to do what you want it to do is tough (unless what you want it to do is store your docs). SharePoint is not as simple as it’s made out to be, the out-of-the-box features may not align with your organizational needs and migrating to the latest version as upgrades are released isn’t easy.
You Need a Solution That Works on Mobile
SharePoint began life as a server application, and the move to the cloud wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Customizing SharePoint in the cloud can get expensive and there are limitations.
You Have a Strict Budget
SharePoint may not be expensive in the short term, but the long-term cost of ownership (which can include training, support, consulting, and development) may end up being higher than you anticipate. You may need to collaborate with a number of service providers to get SharePoint up and running at your company and to tweak it until it meets your organization’s communications goals.
You Want a Cutting-Edge Employee Communication Solution
There’s a lot SharePoint can’t do, and even though upgrades are released all the time, it’s not particularly innovative when you compare it to other intranets and employee apps available today.
You Need to Integrate With Your Other Apps
One of the biggest complaints we hear about SharePoint is that there’s no easy way to control access to your document management infrastructure. The security model of the platform is largely outdated, and that could lead to problems for your organization if your documents contain a lot of sensitive information.
Here’s the takeaway: if you have a limited budget, limited time, and a workforce that’s largely remote or customer-facing then SharePoint probably isn’t the right employee communication solution for your business.
If SharePoint Isn’t Enough, What’s the Answer?
Can you still use SharePoint? Absolutely! As noted above, there is plenty that SharePoint does and does extremely well. But right out of the box, the platform isn’t a fully-formed employee communication solution. It’s not even close. Yes, it can be configured in many unique ways and given a large investment of time and capital, it can be used as an intranet, but let’s be real. Most companies don’t have the resources free to customize an imperfect solution. They need an employee communication solution they can get up and running in just a few days.
If you’re not in a position to make a big investment in SharePoint or you’d just prefer not to, then an employee app can do everything SharePoint does and more. With a mobile-friendly employee app like Blink, you can create personalized feeds that empower collaboration, reach employees in the field, solidify priorities and schedules, make sure your company’s most important information is easily accessible from anywhere, track and encourage usage, and integrate your mobile intranet seamlessly with other apps so employees only ever have to log into a single portal to stay connected to your organization’s purpose.
Why Blink’s Employee App Is a Great Alternative
SharePoint was built for desktop, but we’re living in a mobile world. It was also built for a workforce that was used to using corporation-friendly applications. Today’s workers expect more out of the platforms they use, whether that means a protracted learning curve or a personalized experience. Blink was built specifically for a mobile workforce so you can reach employees where they are, on a platform that feels familiar.
When an employee logs into Blink, they see a personalized feed with updates from the applications they use, news, polls, and social posts from their coworkers. There’s also a powerful group chat, a file hub that makes it easy to find documents and data, and access to everything they might need from HR. It’s a one-stop internal communications solution for every employee — including those who are on the road or on their feet for most of the day.
But Wait! Blink and SharePoint are Better Together
If you’re already using SharePoint, why not let it do what it does best? It’s still a great way to store and share files and to collaborate within documents. Then you can integrate Blink’s employee app seamlessly with your existing Office365 and SharePoint platforms — making them both easier to use and more effective in the process. Information retrieval will be smoother. Sharing and collaboration can happen in one place. Onboarding will get a whole lot simpler. And your remote and frontline employees will never again have trouble finding what they need to make a sale, help a patient, serve a customer, or just get the job done.
If you’re still on the fence about sticking with SharePoint instead of deploying an employee app, why not think bigger? Communications should be about more than document retrieval or info sharing. With an employee app, you’re engaging your workforce in a whole new way and empowering your employees to deliver success. It will literally change the way your workforce works for the better, regardless of your employees’ technical aptitude.
Blink is an employee app that’s better than a company intranet because it can do everything an intranet can do plus a lot more. Try it out today. Enter your email address here to get started.