A few years ago, our fellow consultant and blogger Lutz Hirsch wrote a notable article, which was well received and widely shared internally, and we published our opinions of his post on our German blog shortly afterwards.
We still like Lutz's article so much that we want to introduce you to his objective and exciting contribution (that is still relevant today!) titled: Five tips for the social intranet with MS SharePoint – or how to learn to drive a tank to the shops (post in German).
“Working with SharePoint is like driving a tank to the shops”
The topic of the article: SharePoint and social collaboration on an intranet. And on the basis of his many projects and evaluations, Lutz Hirsch arrives at an unmistakable conclusion:
The platform is powerful, wonderfully integrated into MS Office 2010, works excellently with lists and documents, but is light years away from modern web standards for social collaboration and information presentation. [...] In three of our recently completed evaluations for social intranets, MS SharePoint and the SAP Netweaver Portal were beaten hands down by seemingly small platforms. Both on their total cost of ownership and on function.
In this context, the author recalls a wonderful comparison:
A student at the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences, where we regularly deliver courses on achieving social workplaces with SharePoint and the like, once summed it up in a nutshell: “Working with SharePoint is like driving a tank to the shops.” That really hits home!!
To use SharePoint really profitably, Lutz Hirsch recommends strengthening its strengths and replacing its weaknesses as well as analyzing your core use cases. For example, he says SharePoint is fantastic and “unbeatable” for use cases like processing and distributing documents or working in a team and project setting. But:
Don't try setting up an enterprise wiki with SharePoint or expanding it by way of an add-on in SharePoint. In this regard, SharePoint is incredibly weak and far away from market-leading web standards.
These are the words of someone who knows SharePoint inside out, sells it and implements SharePoint projects. Brave? No, just honest and transparent, I reckon.
Confluence vs. SharePoint wikis: Objective analysis is needed
And with this, we touch on a core problem: When SharePoint comes up in discussion, occasionally the wind quickly shifts toward subjectivity and emotionality. Corporate politics come into play, and even visceral responses are triggered, while a factual and productive discussion falls by the wayside.
In previous posts and webinars, we have analyzed the wiki function of SharePoint. Background: SharePoint can certainly do numerous things excellently. However, many of our customers have challenges that a wiki can solve fabulously, so they evaluate Confluence and then get the answer – often from their own IT department – that what can be done with Confluence can also be done with the existing SharePoint system and its native wiki function: “We don't need a corporate wiki like Confluence - we've got SharePoint.”
This is sufficient for reviewing the general requirements of a professional corporate wiki and taking a good look at the wiki function of SharePoint.
This is not about criticizing SharePoint as a whole. We don’t consider that to be our task, and we have far too little knowledge of the system for that. Nor is it about comparing a wiki such as Confluence with SharePoint in its entirety, i.e. apples with oranges.
What it’s really about is contrasting a wiki with the wiki function in SharePoint: If SharePoint is offering a native wiki feature as an enterprise intranet, you can and must apply the same criteria to it as you do to every other system for planning an enterprise wiki. And in this regard, when viewed objectively and dispassionately, SharePoint does quite poorly: the native wiki function of SharePoint does not meet the requirements for a professional Wiki.
It is noteworthy that a consultant who himself sells and implements SharePoint projects has arrived at this conclusion. Thank you, Lutz Hirsch, for having so much objectivity!
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Image credit: Leopard C2 ‘137’ '23A' "ATHENA" by Alan Wilson (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Our comparison of Confluence and SharePoint
MS SharePoint as a wiki: Few functions, even less compatibility
MS SharePoint vs. Atlassian Confluence: Do you really enjoy being caught out by high license fees?
The anti SharePoint speaker at Cebit: Why businesses don’t give intranet users what they want and need
SharePoint as a wiki vs. Confluence: Criteria and requirements