With the continuous innovation that comes with each update to the Microsoft SharePoint intranet platform, one customer question is an evergreen: "Can’t we just use SharePoint out-of-the-box?"
Is there still value in turnkey intranets like MatchPoint or Wizdom (both LiveTiles products) on top of SharePoint? While SharePoint Homesites or the integration of Microsoft Search are valuable enhancements to the platform, the core value proposition of SharePoint turnkey solutions holds still true. It actually gets even stronger with the maturity gain the digital workplace market currently sees.
As an interesting fact, Clearbox Consulting's most recent issue of its well-known SharePoint turnkey intranet report contains a section comparing turnkey product features such as from MatchPoint and Wizdom with SharePoint Online out-of-the box capabilities. (If you are interested in the details: we offer you a 10% discount on the full Clearbox report at the end of this post.). So let's dig into the different aspects and find the real advantages (and some disadvantages) of a turnkey intranet.
“We see numerous advantages to in-a-box solutions, and our recommendation is that standard SharePoint is capable of only simple intranet scenarios without some extra work on top. […] The short answer is that if you need multiple languages, on-premises support or consistent navigation across the entire intranet, then you need an in-a-box product (or very significant development time).“ Clearbox Report 2019.
By building your own solution on top of SharePoint Online you own your code and associated IP. While this comes with a lot of responsibility and usually a considerable investment over time (remember: you need to be able to keep pace with Microsoft), it has the undisputed advantage of third-party-vendor-independence. But the other side of the coin is that you will be dependent on your development team or partner instead − which means individuals with an employee or contractor status. Not entirely sure if that's an advantage... That said, before selecting a turnkey intranet you should carefully evaluate your trusted vendors and go with the leaders you expect to define the market for years to come.
If your goal is to privde a state-of-the-art intranet experience based on SharePoint Online modern, you need to fix some major shortcomings. With SharePoint classic (e.g. publishing sites), features are even more basic and the need for custom development is pretty much given. The same applies to SharePoint 2016 or earlier. For SharePoint 2019, remember that a number of capabilities known from Office 365 are not available (e.g. Delve, Forms, Home Sites etc.).
Intranet turnkey solutions such as MatchPoint and Wizdom from LiveTiles more than ever add significant value over SharePoint Online out-of-the-box. They provide a faster time-to-market, a more mature solution and reduced risks compared to custom solutions. That said, our recommendation is to not to blunder into the trap of trying to make any achievements with an out-of-the-box approach, as it will most definitely turn out to evolve in a vastly more expensive and lengthy process than expected. Choosing your vendor early and wisely and going with a leader will maximize your success.
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