Intranet Comparison

Comparison of Intranet Software Solutions

The big decision you have to make early on in the process of chosing an Intranet Platform is on the size and scope of the intranet. What do you realy want your intranet to do? What problems does your intranet need to address?

There are many different intranet solutions out there, and it's easy to spend a lot of time and money on a solution that turns out to be a bad fit for your organization. In this document we give a basic outline of a number of intranet solutions out there along with their costs and benefits. Bear in mind that when deciding on an intranet there often is no right answer. There is no such thing as the best intranet. There is only intranet software that is a good fit for your organization and software that is a poor fit for your organization. This also changes over time. As your organization grows and changes the intranet has to grow with you. Until finally the day will come that you've completely outgrown your intranet software and you need a different solution. That's the natural lifetime of software in any organization, and intranet software is no exception.

So with the preface out of the way let's get started – Wordpress vs Sharepoint vs Google Sites vs Papyrs:

1. Wordpress

Wordpress is the world's most popular blogging platform. It's free and has been installed millions of times. So surely Wordpress is also great as an intranet? Well, let's see.

  • Wordpress is a available as a free download. That's clearly a plus.
  • Installing Wordpress requires technical expertise. You also have to worry about securing Wordpress and about making regular backups. Whose responsibility is it going to be to install critical security updates on a Sunday night?
  • Wordpress can be customized to completely match the look and feel of your organization. There are hundreds of themes to choose from, and the themes can be customized to fit your company with relative ease.
  • Wordpress doesn't work very well on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). Wordpress was created in 2003, after all.
  • Wordpress doesn't do email updates. It doesn't need to, because blog posts don't get updated repeatedly. But intranet pages need to change because an organization is constantly in motion.
  • Wordpress doesn't have an activity stream. It doesn't need to because Wordpress sites typically only have a couple of authors. But your organization may have 20 people. Or 300.
  • Wordpress doesn't have good search. Because Wordpress is created for completely public websites, which can be searched easily through Google.
  • Wordpress doesn't have page permissions. No user profiles. No forms. No search. No convenient navigation.
Conclusion: The best thing Wordpress has going for it is that it's free. But your time isn't. Because Wordpress is created as a blogging platform (which it excels at, by the way) it's just no good as an intranet. With sufficient dedication it is possible to create a passable intranet based on Wordpress, but it's a long and painful road. Running your company blog on wordpress, however, may be a good idea.

2. Sharepoint

Sharepoint is Microsoft's Intranet platform. It's the #1 intranet software for the enterprise by most metrics.

  • It has a ton of functionality. Calendars. Document Workflows. Office integration. Sharepoint does it all.
  • It's not user-friendly. Sharepoint contains so much functionality that the user experience suffers as a result.
  • You can extend Sharepoint. Do you want to integrate it with your payroll software? You can. Do you want sharepoint to send everybody a text message on Christmas morning? You can. It may take an army of programmers, but with Sharepoint it's all possible.
  • It's hard to get started with Sharepoint. Most employees will require additional training in order to get productive with Sharepoint.
  • It's very expensive. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to set up and customize. Tons of training for all employees. Then there are maintenance fees and other expenses. It all adds up. Don't just take our word for it. According to the independent Osterman Research Survey on Sharepoint costs Sharepoint costs on average $46 per seat per month. If you have 100 employees that comes down to $550.000 every 10 years. Half a million may be pocket change to the Fortune 500, but most organizations simply need a more cost effective platform.
  • Upgrading to the next version of Sharepoint is expensive and usually difficult. As a consequence you're likely to stick to an older version for several years. However, this means the Sharepoint installation will become a security risk.
  • Your colleagues are likely to be unhappy with Sharepoint, according to a Forrester Research Study.
Conclusion: Sharepoint is a mixed bag. It's unparalleled in terms of functionality, but ease of use suffers as a consequence. It's also extraordinarily expensive. Enterprises with at least 10.000 employees may find Sharepoint is a great fit. For smaller companies it's likely to turn into an expensive nightmare.

3. Google Sites

Although Google Sites is not officially an intranet solution, some organizations use it as such. Google Sites is a web site builder by Google, with a drag & drop interface. So we also go quickly over the pros and cons here.

  • It's completely free for personal use.
  • It's included with Google Apps. So if your company is already subscribing to Google Apps for GMail and Google Docs then Google Sites can be used at no additional cost. Otherwise Google Sites costs $50 per user per year.
  • It's pretty easy to get started with Google Sites. This is mostly because the scope of Google Sites is very constrained and centered around the creation of pages.
  • Google Sites doesn't support page level permissions or guest access. It doesn't have a forms builder, search, page tags or user profiles. It doesn't have support for an internal blog either. The email integration is primitive, as are their site navigation widgets.
  • Google Sites is no longer being actively developed by Google. This means no new functionality, no bugfixes.
  • It has fairly good integration with Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets. It also keeps track of a page revision history and you can have discussions right on a page.
  • The user interface is rough around the edges and takes some getting used to.
Conclusion: So although Google Sites is OK when seen purely as a website-builder, it really isn't intended to be used as a real intranet solution. And as a consequence, it isn't very good when used as one. We also believe that there are much better website builders out there than Google Sites, if that's really what you're looking for.

4. Papyrs

  • Very user friendly.
  • You can get started with it right away. A 30 second sign up is all it takes. There is nothing to install or to configure. You don't even have to read a manual to get started. Papyrs does have excellent documentation, for those interested in that sort of thing.
  • Papyrs is flexible and has tons of functionality, from Wiki-pages and integrated search to social features like an activity stream. Hundreds of features available through an intuitive drag&drop interface that allows you to organize and share all your information.
  • Hosted in the cloud. We take care of availability, backups, and security.
  • Integrates with tons of 3rd parties. Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Calendar, Youtube, Maps. With Twitter and much more.
  • Not HIPPA compliant. Papyrs lives in the cloud and that has legal implications. For instance, you can't store sensitive medical information on Papyrs.
  • Papyrs Forms can be used to create simple database applications in minutes with drag&drop.
  • Simple & straightforward pricing. Papyrs may not be free, but simple and straightforward pricing is the next best thing. And this guarantees you get excellent customer support, a platform that is always up-to-date with the latest features and you won't have to worry about a thing. And our customers love us.
  • Not great for enterprises with more than a thousand employees. The typical Papyrs customer has a 250 employees. No software package is suitable for all organizations, and Papyrs is no exception.
Conclusion: Papyrs is specifically designed to allow small and medium sized businesses to set up a social intranet without technical knowledge. This includes functionality from Wordpress, Google Sites, and Sharepoint, but the main focus is on intranet features and ease of use. If you're just looking for a company blog, public website or rather want an IT team to build a fully custom intranet, Papyrs is unlikely to be the best product for your organization. However, if you need a simple and straightforward intranet solution we believe Papyrs is a good fit.

In closing

Wordpress, Sharepoint, Google Sites, and Papyrs are all very different products. And yet all of these products are used as an intranet by different organizations. Sometimes with great success, sometimes to great frustration. We compared these products because they are all typical in their category of intranet products. Wordpress represents a blogging platform used as an intranet. Sharepoint is a typical Enterprise Intranet. Google Sites is a Site Builder that can also function as an intranet.

Papyrs can be a great fit for organizations that need an intranet with a strong focus on document management (with rich text and drag&drop functionality), easy permissions, and social functionality. In the end it's up to you to decide whether you need a true intranet product or whether some other software package suits your needs better.

Not sure yet what you need or what you're looking for in an intranet? Why not drop us a line? Maybe we can give you some useful pointers. Or just sign up for a free 15-day trial for Papyrs and see if you like it.

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