Organizations with a growth mindset are continuously looking for tools that will improve how their employees communicate and collaborate more efficiently. In fact, research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that employees at companies who leverage mobile technology are not only more productive and creative but are more satisfied at work. The pursuit of having engaged employees is a rewarding one. After all, increased employee engagement leads to better productivity, improved products and services and a more successful customer service experience overall.
Aligning the organization on this path can be greatly accelerated through the deployment of scalable and intuitive Intranet software. A unified environment that supports clear channels of communication, a platform to foster collaboration and discovery and a tools suite to improve work efficiency.
4 Key Strategies Your Intranet Software Should Achieve
Intranet software has continued to evolve in meeting the needs to assist how employees get jobs done. Effective Intranet software should empower employees to achieve four key strategies:
- Connect and collaborate with other employees: Company culture improves when employees feel connected to one another. Employees feel greater satisfaction with their work and a stronger sense of loyalty to the organization. Your Intranet software should facilitate teamwork by allowing employees to:
- Share documents and other content
- Easily engage in discussion
- Assign tasks to one another
- Share status updates
- Provide a flexible working environment: In the digital age, the employee experience extends beyond the workplace itself. Many employees now work remotely or have flexible work schedules. They rely on feeling connected with the rest of the organization through the user experience of the digital tools they are being asked to use.
- Your intranet software should support remote employees and help them stay connected with the rest of the organization. This can be achieved through:
- Providing native mobile apps for key work functions
- Ensuring the user experience for the mobile apps and the desktop are aligned
- Employing push notifications to ensure team members are across things as they change
- Receive and share operational information: One study found that the average employee checks their email 36 times a day. Not only is this an ongoing distraction but in many cases, this investment occurs because employees are simply trying to locate information they need to complete a task. Your Intranet software should provide everyone with access to company information from one unified environment. It should also support employees with:
- Powerful search and discovery tools
- Advanced metadata from the categorization of content
- Workflow capabilities for adding business process layers to how content can move intelligently around the organization
- Manage productivity: Corporate Intranet software must be functional and should fundamentally make it easier for employees to get their jobs done. Whether an employee is trying to submit an expense report or locate a document, the Intranet should be able to automate a range of common work tasks. Tools that can improve productivity include:
- Basic and Advanced Workflows
- Workflows that link to tasks, forms, and metadata
- The ability to design polls, surveys, rankings and endorsements
Now that you understand what you should be looking for in your intranet software, how do you go about selecting the right one? Let’s delve deeper into whether SharePoint is your best option for a company intranet, or are there better and more cost-competitive options you can consider?
Often you might be considering, or already working with, SharePoint for your Intranet. Let’s delve deeper into whether SharePoint is your best option for a company Intranet going forward, or if it’s best to consider an alternative solution like CentricMinds.
CentricMinds versus SharePoint
“How does CentricMinds compare to Microsoft SharePoint?”
A question we’re asked a lot! And it’s a good question because SharePoint is, after all, one of the most widely adopted platforms for deploying an Intranet. So how does CentricMinds compare with the well-known platform? This article aims to answer this question across the following five areas:
- Core Intranet Features
- Document Management
- Search Capability
- Mobile Capability
- Deployment Capability
Core Intranet Features
Having the right Intranet software in place improves employee engagement and drives workplace culture. SharePoint is a popular choice for both large and small companies. The following sections highlight how CentricMinds stacks up against key Intranet features.
The need for a modern content authoring environment requires a mature content management system. Uniquely, the CentricMinds platform not only powers Intranets for both large and small organizations, but for some customers, it also drives their websites.
The intuitive WYSIWYG web content authoring environment of CentricMinds enables the most non-technical authors to publish web content across both Intranet and website destinations like a champion.
High-quality metadata is what allows users to discover and locate the content they need. Both SharePoint and CentricMinds support the creation and management of metadata, but CentricMinds takes metadata management to a whole new level allowing for the creation of complex content presentations driven by target audience, location, time and more. Metadata can also be triggered by workflows and content authoring activities.
SharePoint does not provide content targeting or even global navigation across multiple sites or sections of a single site. Metadata driven navigation enables personalized user journey’s through the site, which is fundamental in delivering truly intuitive user experience.
Your Intranet software should make it easy for even the most non-technical employees to design and create forms. CentricMinds allows users to create forms, publish them to web pages, and link these forms to workflows. Employees also have the option to create polls, surveys, HR forms and more.
With SharePoint you can create basic forms using lists or use InfoPath to first create the form and then share that within SharePoint. The challenge is that as your form requirements become more sophisticated, forms in SharePoint then require some form of custom development which becomes a roadblock for business users.
Your Intranet software should provide workflow tools to automate business processes, manage authoring tasks, influence operational outcomes and more. CentricMinds allows employees to build basic and advanced workflows and then link those workflows to tasks, forms, metadata, content and authors.
SharePoint provides users with basic canned workflows, and if you have a requirement for content workflow automation or creating a bespoke workflow process, you’ll need to go to a third-party product outside SharePoint.
It’s important that your Intranet software can support integrations with third-party applications. Like SharePoint, CentricMinds supports native integration with Office 365 including email automation tasks directly from within Outlook. CentricMinds also supports integrations with popular platforms like Dropbox, Slack, Google, Salesforce and more.
Many organizations still struggle with Document Management and continue to rely on network drives which promote duplication and are ticking operational time bombs. Cloud solutions, like Dropbox and Google Drive, have transformed how many work with documents, but they don’t provide an Intranet layer capable of managing discussions, workflows, metadata, enterprise search and more.
The following reasons highlight why Document Management is so important:
- Collaboration: Employees need to be able to quickly discover and then share documents within their teams. Locating and sharing the right documents accelerates daily workflow tasks and improves collaboration amongst team members.
- Productivity: When everything is stored in one place and documents are easy to access, workplace productivity improves. Employees are more effective and can get their jobs done more effectively because they’re not sinking time in trying to locate the right information.
- Document Analytics: A capable Document Management solution has already considered analytics and provides executive reporting on who and when employees are accessing and sharing documents.
As the content grows within your Intranet, search becomes increasingly important as it underpins the overall relevancy for users. A powerful and user-friendly search simplifies daily tasks, improves visibility across the operation and assists your employees to get jobs done.
The right search tools should allow you to not only locate relevant information but also to filter, augment, and display search results in different ways. This will increase the value and relevance for employees.
This is an area in which CentricMinds exceeds SharePoint. We offer a unique set of search features including:
- Searching within documents
- Automatic indexing
- Highlighting of matched terms and phrases within documents
- Metadata searching
- Filter searches based on the metadata categorization
- Search result display categorization
- Search within search results
- Search as an object
- Setup of discrete searches for different areas of a site
- Configure search to index locations outside of the current site
Searching within SharePoint out of the box has limitations, especially if you have documents located across multiple document libraries. In this instance, you’ll need to search within each library to retrieve a more precise result. Conversely, when searching globally, SharePoint may not return as relevant results as it assumes some of the documents might be duplicated and will exclude them from the results entirely.
More than 80% of the global workforce is now armed with a smartphone, and Android devices represent 75% of the global market share according to a Deloitte study. The modern employee is mobile, and they expect to be able to access organizational content and data on their phone and tablet while on the go.
Telecommuting and remote employment are growing trends. Globally, 70% of employees work remotely at least once a week and 53% work remotely for half the week. So, employees need to be able to work efficiently no matter what device they are using.
We tap to chat, we swipe to read, and notifications vibrate informing us we have tasks to complete or workflows to approve. CentricMinds native apps enable remote workers to access operational content, post from off-site, access documentation and more.
CentricMinds provides features that make it easy for employees to access the information they need on their mobile devices. While SharePoint can be accessed using an iOS and Android app, the CentricMinds native app experience offers a number of advanced features including:
- Discussions: Team members can post discussions and photo’s, chat, comment and like across multiple discussions from their phone or tablet.
- Push Notifications: Team members receive push notifications each time a new version of a document is created, when a user responds to their comment, or when a manager assigns a task for review.
- Document Repository: Team members can search through documents from a single intuitive interface, browse the DMS based on their permissions and view native documents (Office & PDF) on their phone or tablet.
- Share Documents: Team members can securely send a document from within the app to a colleague. This simplifies the process of employees having to access operational content while on the go.
Deciding where your Intranet solution will be located can fundamentally affect how your employees will engage with the platform.
For instance, if the software is hosted on-premise, this usually means it’s installed within a server at your physical location. This obviously presents a number of limitations when it comes to remote workers accessing the solution.
Intranet software can also be hosted in the cloud or at another server location off-site. This tends to offer more flexibility for remote workers and the start-up costs are usually lower. Let’s look at how the CentricMinds and SharePoint platforms compare in this area. The following highlights the unique deployment opportunities that the CentricMinds platform supports:
- Hosted in the Amazon Cloud
- Hosted in the Azure Cloud
- Hosted within your own dedicated Cloud
- Hosted on-premise within your own infrastructure
- Hybrid deployment model (a mixture of cloud and on-premise for a single repository)
SharePoint offers a couple of these deployment options. Office 365 and SharePoint are commonly delivered via Azure. Choosing an on-premise version of SharePoint requires careful planning and resourcing with the trend being a preference for the cloud.
Both CentricMinds and SharePoint offer support for Microsoft SQL. However, CentricMinds also offers support for MySQL, Oracle, and Elastic Storage Block (AWS).
SSO & AD Support
Both CentricMinds and SharePoint offer support for Single Sign-On, federated identity management, and Active Directory integration.
The cost of an Intranet is a fundamental decision for most organizations. The end result should be an Intranet providing the most value and with the highest opportunity for user adoption and team engagement.
CentricMinds is a feature-rich yet decidedly more cost-effective alternative. CentricMinds is licensed on a “per user” subscription basis and is offered under four subscription models:
- Bronze (SaaS): A $295 monthly subscription for organizations with 1-5 users.
- Silver (SaaS): A $395 monthly subscription for organizations with 5-20 users.
- Gold (SaaS): A $495 monthly subscription for organizations with 20-99 users.
- Enterprise (Dedicated Cloud or On-Premise): A per-seat licensing and support subscription for organizations with over 100 users.
The on-premise version of SharePoint is priced upon application. SharePoint Online starts around $10 per user, per month with a 100-user license costing about $12,000 per annum, excluding support.
SharePoint offers many good features but CentricMinds provides greater usability and makes its core features more accessible. CentricMinds offers a more comprehensive solution in each of the categories outlined above.
When it comes to core Intranet features, CentricMinds has consistently demonstrated a more capable out of the box solution than SharePoint out of the box. In addition to these core features, SharePoint does offer basic reporting, searching, and metadata.
CentricMinds allows users to access advanced reporting features, configure advanced searching, and apply categorization to web pages and documents. Organizations can also set up an interactive staff directory and an organizational chart with the platform.
Both CentricMinds and SharePoint do offer native mobile apps, however, CentricMinds apps offer a couple of advanced options including workflow notifications, task management and social engagement tools.