Choosing Your Community Platform

A Comparison Between Salesforce and SharePoint

If your business has been thinking about building an online community–or migrating an existing one–you likely know that you’ve got plenty of options. Salesforce, Microsoft SharePoint, Lithium, Jive, Khoros, and more all have the ability to house your community on their platform. But not all providers are created equal when it comes to delivering business results. When looking at the features and functions of the likes of Salesforce Community Cloud and SharePoint, it becomes easy to see which one represents a better investment if your goal is business success. 

Microsoft SharePoint is a web-based platform for which the primary strength is its detailed document management. It integrates easily with Microsoft Office, allowing users to share and collaborate on Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in a centralized location. While less seamless, it also connects with other Microsoft applications, giving users access to productivity, communications, social and storage capabilities. This enables organizations to implement collaborative solutions like intranets and websites. While SharePoint presents itself as highly customizable, in practice it can be difficult to precisely configure features that effectively address business needs.

Where SharePoint stands out as a strong document management solution, it has drawbacks that restrict its ability to be an engaging community solution. It is difficult to maintain, requiring an advanced and experienced system admin to do so. Advanced analytics on the platform are also minimal, with limited custom reporting available for businesses to use. 

The benefits that can be achieved through SharePoint’s O365 integrations are also slightly diminished by its lack of connectedness with certain Microsoft applications. A high level of change is required in order to integrate the full product suite into a cohesive, engaging solution. 

This leads to redundancies and confusion among users, requiring them to switch between multiple apps to accomplish tasks. While there are some opportunities for user interactions, they are not on par with other platforms that prioritize the social and collaborative elements that communities should have and bring the most business value. Finally, SharePoint does not fluidly integrate with external business processes, leaving siloed internal and third-party functionality within a business’s operations. It is also lagging behind companies like Salesforce in product innovation.

While SharePoint is the stronger front-end system for managing and organizing documents, Salesforce’s platform is natively built to address community collaboration and engagement. Through its Community Cloud offering, companies are better able to connect their customers, partners and employees with each other, relevant content and data. This allows users to collaborate and empowers organizations to streamline and extend business processes. 

Community Cloud offers branded, configurable and collaborative experiences, setting itself apart as more than simply a highly-organized content repository. As the leading enterprise cloud platform, communities on Salesforce are built on top of sophisticated business data and workflows. The native integrations with other Salesforce Clouds create a truly cohesive experience that spans across systems, departments and users.

Community Cloud can be tailored to fit the specific needs of any use case from desktop to mobile. Its “clicks not code” approach means you don’t need a dedicated resource to maintain your community; your systems of record can be handled by IT, while your business fully owns the system of engagement. Salesforce releases new features and functions across its platform three times a year, ensuring your solutions are always up to date with the latest capabilities. The potential for almost limitless customization is also enabled by Salesforce, letting companies implement more unique solutions than options like SharePoint allow.

Beyond its functionality, Salesforce Communities afford companies other benefits that SharePoint does not. It boasts an incredibly strong partner ecosystem, with resources like the AppExchange where organizations can access ready-to-install apps, solutions and consultants to further enhance their community experiences. Salesforce also consistently ranks at or near the top of independent analyses like Gartner’s Magic Quadrants and the Forrester Wave, reaffirming their position as a leader in creating digital experience platforms.

Business is quickly moving toward a model that breaks down organizational siloes. It is imperative to choose a platform that is easily and readily customizable in both collaboration and knowledge sharing. Salesforce counts many organizations in their portfolio that successfully marry Community Cloud with an O365 infrastructure when the organization’s goals are collaboration, automation and engagement. But where SharePoint can enhance your company’s file organization, Community Cloud’s one-stop, user-focused experience makes it the solution of choice for companies thinking about building or migrating an online community. 

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