Microsoft SharePoint Out-of-the-box or Turnkey Intranets?

Urs Wermelinger
25.02.20 18:15

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.

Benefits of a Turnkey Intranet

  • Faster time-to-market: Even modest intranet projects can easily take up to six months or more. Turnkey intranets cut this down to weeks (or even days in the case of Employee Apps such as Condense) and deliver a return on investment much earlier.
  • Reduced risk: Going through feature specification and custom development can be very time-consuming. Much of that work is already packaged up in turnkey products. Moreover the task of following the fast moving Microsoft roadmap for Office 365 is delegated to the vendor, which reduces your technical risk over the lifespan of the solution.
  • Increased maturity: While turnkey solutions have evolved over years and are proven by hundreds of thousands or even millions of users, your custom intranet would come in its first version that's ever rolled out. Taking into account the many SharePoint gaps it would have fill (such as consistent navigation, far better news publishing and targeting, multilingual support, a better mobile experience, provisioning and governance, just to name a few), this is not the best precondition if you want to make sure to make users happy.

Some Words of Caution

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.

Clearbox turnkey vs build your own EN

Main Gaps in SharePoint Functionality Filled by Our Turnkey Products

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.).

  • News and publishing: Personalization and content targeting in desk and non-desk scenarios, a proper publishing process from a single news-center, support for multilingual content and a dedicated mobile app are the requirements where MatchPoint and Wizdom really make an important difference.
  • User experience: Both MatchPoint and Wizdom come with a great user experience − MatchPoint is more standardized, Wizdom if you like it more flexible. The provide consistent, multilingual navigation, personalized content and links, enhanced search experience, flexible branding and all based on templates.
  • Collaboration: SharePoint is mainly a collaboration tool, so it's not surprising collaboration is the area it scores best out-of-the-box. Still, both our in-a-box products MatchPoint and Wizdom fill important gaps, such as collaborative content aggregation, workspace dashboards, workspace templates and provisioning.
  • Analytics and governance: Governance can be challenging in any system − in particular in Office 365. Planning and managing governance wisely on the other end is core for end-user adoption and low cost of ownership. This is why MatchPoint and Wizdom sport common backend governance services, providing a wizard for SharePoint site and MS Teams provisioning, a content and site governance dashboard, metadata inheritance as well as SEO features, all data-driven by our enhanced analytics capabilities.
  • Digital workplace integration: While the Office 365 platform often is the core for collaboration and communication, only a good integration with key business applications (i.e. HR, ERP, CRM and digital marketing platforms) makes your intranet really valuable. MatchPoint Hub and the Wizdom PowerPanel are some of the most advanced integration concepts on the market.

Clearbox Table final


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.

Get the independent ClearBox Report V5 with 10% CYCL Discount! CLICK HERE


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