SharePoint intranets 2018 edition
We’ve released the 2018 edition of our SharePoint intranets in-a-box report, after reviewing 34 intranet products and creating summary listings of a further 8. There were quite a few other vendors that approached us, and I’m sure there are many more that we haven’t yet encountered. In the end, we aimed for those with a strong track record and for a good geographic spread.
We help clients improve their intranet by developing strategy, validating requirements, and performing user research. We often help organisations plan for an entirely new intranet, and so we make every effort to know about the various intranet platforms on the market.
With Office 365 bringing SharePoint Online to so many organisations, more and more of our clients are looking for a product to transform SharePoint (on premises and in the cloud) into a decent corporate intranet. As an independent consultancy, we’re uniquely positioned to give an unbiased assessment.
Look at the size of that thing
At 430 pages, our report has involved co-ordinating over 100 people across vendors and the production team. Five team members reviewed 34 products, covering strengths, weaknesses, and the most impressive features.
People ask why we don’t just do fewer products. The reason is that everyone’s shortlist will cover a slightly different mix of geography, features and price-point. We don’t expect anyone to read the whole thing, but even after excluding products that aren’t quite ready we end up with a sizeable list of options that all worthy of consideration.
What’s new in this edition
The first thing to say is that this is a completely new report, not just an update. We’ve revised our scenarios based on feedback from the last edition and of course many products have evolved over the last year. So all offerings have been freshly evaluated.
Many scenarios have got tougher, resulting in a reduction in scoring for some products but also greater differentiation between the strongest.
We changed the scoring system this year; it’s still out of a maximum of ‘4’, but a product can now be given a score of ‘2-3’, indicating that the product gets a ‘2’ out of the box, but can earn a ‘3’ with additional add-on tools or work. Many vendors now provide a suite of tools or products to extend your intranet functionality, for a price.
Our scores are likely to be quite influential, but not every product is trying to achieve the same thing. Most have got the basics sorted, and are differentiating themselves by focusing on adding value in specific realms. Don’t let a low score in one scenario put you off a product if its strengths align with your needs; remember that SharePoint is ‘behind’ all these products, and our reviews focus on the product’s capabilities, not SharePoint’s. Our report will help you find an intranet product that’s a good fit to your objectives. There’s no single ‘best’ product, not when you factor in the price as well.
“Overall what comes across is the depth of experience of the review team. The comments are always informed and incisive, not just edited versions of publicity material.
“The introduction sets out very clearly the benefits and issues around using out-of-the-box products in general and SharePoint-based products in particular.” — Martin White, author of ‘The intranet Management Handbook’ and ‘Enterprise Search’, of Intranet Focus
Reviewed and checked and checked again
Every reviewed product is rated, not on feature-sets but on eight important business scenarios, such as news publishing, user experience, employee services, and search, for example. Each vendor had to give a live demonstration of how they would address the scenario. Their ratings were checked by three others for consistency. Vendors were given the chance to check their review for factual inaccuracies, but we wouldn’t let them re-write our opinions (no matter how much they wanted to inject marketing-speak!).
Our evaluations will help you match product strengths to your organisation’s needs, but of course there are many other factors to consider, such as cost and on-going support. We’ve put price indicators and easy-to-read tables in to help you consider the technical and functional capabilities.
I’m grateful to Andrew Marr, Chris Tubb, James Dellow, and Wedge Black for their review work; they bring decades of experience as intranet specialists. Many thanks to Steve Bynghall, not just for his editing work, but for reviewing every review. I was very glad to have Val Skelton co-ordinate all the many moving pieces involved with putting together such a large document too. On top of my own reviews, it fell to me to review everyone’s work and balance the scores – a tricky job when debating the finer points of communication and collaboration.
The previous edition
We released the previous edition at the end of 2016 and it covered 26 products – which, at the time, felt like plenty. We received a lot of positive feedback about that 2017 edition, and some salient suggestions.
Everyone who gave us feedback said that this sort of information was not readily available elsewhere. On average, people told us that our report had saved them nearly three weeks of research, and many people said it was nearer to four weeks.
We’ve learned about what scenarios matter to people and the buying process. The new edition contains much more background information about the companies, customer base and how the product is updated. Our scenarios too were substantially revised.
We’re very glad to receive so many positive reviews – via comments, blog articles, and by email.
“This report really helped me shortlist the vendors to speak to. It saved me at least 4 weeks of studying the market. If you are looking for a ‘buy not build’ solution, read this report first.” — Malou Wezemael, Digital Workplace Manager at EDF Luminus, Belgium.
As proud as we were of the 2017 edition, we’ve worked hard to improve and expand our reviews for the 2018 edition. We hope that anyone thinking about making better use of SharePoint, Office 365, and SharePoint Online will consider an ‘in-a-box’ product after reading our report. If you purchased the previous edition but haven’t yet engaged a vendor or committed to a product, I’m certain you’ll find our 2018 edition to be more than a mere revision; it’s what you need now to make a better procurement decision in 2018.