SharePoint Alternative?

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Keywords: SharePoint

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If you had been hiding under a rock for the past few years and were just starting to search for a collaborative content management system, you may get the impression that SharePoint is the only product on the market. But after looking at the literature, blogs, tweets, and webinars, and being a good scout, you decide to search around and see what else is out there. SharePoint may work, but you would like to measure it against other products and ensure that the “due diligence” is done.

The first consideration is getting a handle on the variables so that you are not comparing two dissimilar products. While there is a lot going on in this type of study, there are fundamentally three areas that have to sync-up in order to have a head-to-head comparison.

The first is what are your own business, functional, and technical requirements? This has to be the starting place otherwise you will be looking at products that may or may not actually do what is needed to be accomplished. Developing these requirements allows you to start on a solid footing when speaking to vendors because (1) you now know what you are trying to accomplish, and (2) the vendors have less wiggle room when given the list.

The second is to properly size the opportunity so that you are not wasting time speaking to the wrong set of vendors. For example, if you were considering a SharePoint-type system, you could also look for SaaS-type vendors (Box, Dropbox, Igloo) or the big three ECM vendors: OpenText, FileNet, Documentum. Chances are that after looking at a SaaS-type vendor, like Box, you would quickly see that they do not have all the functionality that is needed for areas like records management, workflow, compliance, and maybe others. On the other hand, looking at OpenText, they most likely can meet all of your requirements and more but at a cost (actual $$, time, and resources) that is not in your budget.

The third is your own in-house IT resources and capabilities. Does your company, and I encourage you take a “hard” look at the IT department, have the IT depth and knowledge to build and maintain, for example, a SharePoint system? If you are reading the literature you will quickly see a number of reports and comments that point to how difficult is it to build and maintain SharePoint and that is because it is considered a “platform” to build from, not a “product” to implement. SaaS and ECM systems are products – SaaS products are generally fixed and not customizable while ECM systems are fixed but are highly customizable. But at least you have a good starting place with SaaS or ECM-type systems. The point is that part of your decision should include an honest assessment of your own capabilities and your depth of resources for a long-haul effort. I’ve known several companies that have shied away from SharePoint, not because of the product functionality, but because of the work to develop, build, and maintain it.

I want to make a point that if your requirements truly point you in the direction a SharePoint-type system, you most likely will not go with a SaaS-cloud based content management system or an established ECM vendor because SharePoint fills a hole between those two types of systems. So, what are some comparable SharePoint-like alternative systems that you could review? Here is a short pick list to get your started:

Xerox DocuShare: DocuShare is an enterprise scalable content management system and includes records management, workflow, advanced search capabilities and compliance modules. DocuShare also includes imaging features for scanning document into DocuShare. DocuShare is not a cloud/SaaS but like SharePoint is a “product” that you can configure, customize, and implement according to your needs. http://docushare.xerox.com/

Alfresco: Alfresco is an open source ECM platform that you can use in the cloud or on premise. It includes digital content management, capture/imaging, records management, workflow, advanced search, and compliance modules. http://www.alfresco.com/

SpringCM: SpringCM is a cloud-based enterprise content management system that includes records management, workflow, and compliance modules. http://www.springcm.com/

NuxeoDM: NuxeoDM is an open source document management software platform that can be implemented on premise or in the cloud and includes records management, workflow, and compliance modules. http://www.nuxeo.com/en

The above vendors are, in my opinion, close in overall features and capabilities to SharePoint and would be solid alternatives to include in your review. You should also consider that Alfresco and NuxeoDM are open source versus DocuShare and SpringCM which are not open source. Generally speaking, you may expect the above four products to be able to handle all of the general requirements that you may have and may be customizable for the more unique requirements.

The benefit of doing this type of comparison is that you will begin to more fully understand and better define your own requirements by closely looking at what other systems can do and how they do it. While the requirements that you gathered define what work you need to do, looking at the vendors will help you to define how to do the work. A simple and obvious example may be the benefits of “automated workflow” over manual workflow processes – an automated workflow process may save you several FTEs, reduce the overall cost of processing “items,” and allow you to process items faster.

In many cases you will find that that some vendors who claim to be SharePoint alternatives are basing that judgment on a less then fully realized features comparison. Many of the SaaS vendors claim to be SharePoint alternatives based solely on their ability to do document management activities (check in/out, version control, security, etc.) but that is far less than the overall capability of SharePoint and the above four companies.

The above four companies should be considered a starting place for your journey – there are many companies that claim to be a SharePoint alternative – try searching on “SharePoint Alternatives” and be prepared to be bowled over with results. However I caution you to keep your requirements list close at hand and to use it to separate vendors into viable candidates and those who simply cannot make the cut. The end result of this journey is that whoever you decide is the correct solution for your project, you will know that you explored all of the possibilities and are confident of your choice based on (1) your understanding of your requirements, and (2) your leveling of the playing field.

Finally, let’s hear from you! Have you a SharePoint alternative to suggest? Have you done a SharePoint comparison that you would like to share? Did you look at other vendors but ultimately decide on SharePoint? Why?

Bud Porter-Roth

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Comments

James Moore

Centralpooint by Oxcyon

To add to this list, I have been using Centralpoint by Oxcyon. I was a bit weary of starting with this CMS at first
because I have used various CMS’s from Google, Microsoft Sharepoint, Huddle and etc. My initial reaction to Centralpoint was that it was going to be just another CMS (content management system), but I was wrong. It exceeded my expectations, greatly. One thing I noticed when I use Google Apps and Sharepoint was that navigation was a mess! I’m not saying that Google Apps and Sharepoint is the only CMS with bad navigation, but it’s just an example. I usually adapt to programs easily, but I was rather confused by most CMS programs. With Centralpoint, I don’t have any issues with navigation and changing things around. As far as storing records, it has a powerful document management system, which is full blown archival. Oxcyon also doesn’t charge per seat, per server or by the amount of data usage. Overall, navigation and proper document
management system were 2 of my largest problems with past CMS’s I have experienced. Centralpoint is painless and
efficient. I would highly recommend it.
Centralpoint has many great feature that are user friendly like Microsoft office. You can setup policies and administrative rights. The best thing about it is it just feels natural.
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Sharon  Johnson

SharePoint Alternative

SharePoint is the real thing when it comes down to content management systems. I don't think anyone can disagree with this fact. I have used CMSs for over 8yrs and I haven’t found one that matches up with the amount of tech support that you need when building an all around system with SharePoint. It seems like every time we get to a point where we think we have made some real progress it becomes so admin needed that you need an add-on to complete the next level. I couldn’t believe how tech savvy you needed to be and I would think of myself as a Microsoft Office product expert.

If you are looking for something with user friendly capability and out of the box modules that help you build your system with out a lot of costly add-ons try Centralpoint by Oxcyon. It isn’t any need to waste your time on a CMS that turns you in to a software developer. Centralpoint is a system that sets you free from that and turns your time back in to productivity.
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Liliana  Duffy

CMS?

@James hi I've been hearing a lot about this Centralpoint by Oxcyon. I thought it was just another content management system swearing they are the best and better then SharePoint. That was until I called Oxcyon because we were sick of SharePoint. The guys at Oxcyon actually gave us a free Demo. Thank you for the post.
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Segey Popov

Does Centralpoint Have a Lot of Add-ons

I also have been reading a lot about Oxcyon’s Content Management System. I checked out the website and it has a lot of details about Centralpoint. We have been thinking about changing our course for the New Year. SharePoint is really starting to be a third party nightmare integrating with Yammer for social capabilities and SkyDrive Pro for storage. We can’t even get a working workflow without some third party add-on. Does Centralpoint require a lot of third party software? I saw somewhere that they have over 230 modules out the box.
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Violet Marsh

@James

keep hearing about Centralpoint by Oxcyon. I don’t understand what the big point is I understand that it comes with 230 out the box modules and SharePoint comes with basically nothing but a bunch of paid for add-ons. SharePoint does have its bad sides like everything else. The per-seat cost can really cost you in the end vs. Centralpoint no per seat cost. If you are not using it on an enterprise level of a 150 users or better you may have a gray area of cost with SharePoint. My company is small about 53 employees and only about 15 to 20 of us use our content management system so a per seat cost is good for us. The only down side is you have to pay for support and third party software. As we grow bigger we are looking for something with a little me support and modules.
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Tim Eisenhauer

Communifire

Great post. There are tons of great SharePoint alternatives, each having their unique strengths. We often hear from businesses that are looking to move away from SharePoint. Communifire is a great sharepoint alternative, since it gives you a lot more than just document management.
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