How to know when SharePoint is holding your internal comms back
Your content isn’t looking the way you want it to, your audience isn’t reacting how you thought they would, and your platform isn’t driving as much engagement as you need it to. You think your platform is holding you back, but you can’t be sure… How do you know when SharePoint is the problem?
How to know when SharePoint is the problem
You're busting a sweat to create engaging content that gets employees excited about where they work and inspired to bring their A-game. But something is just not hitting right. Your viewership stats are on the decline, you're hearing rumblings that employees are struggling to find the information they need, your comms team are burning out trying to complete simple tasks, and new unofficial comms channels are popping up like whack-a-moles - what is going on?! Maybe it's not you; maybe it's the platform...
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SharePoint is often the first-choice intranet for enterprises. And it's not because it's the most effective platform. It's because it's part of the Microsoft stack that your IT team have already invested in. "We've already got it, so let's use it," is the rallying cry of enterprise IT. And in years bygone, its shortcomings were easier to ignore. But today, with the rise of hybrid working and the ever-growing need for effective internal comms, the company intranet is under scrutiny. And when it's not performing at optimal levels, the impact is pervasive.
Days of the intranet dumping ground are a thing of the past, and today's intranets are the true digital front door to every organization. We are asking more and more of our intranets. They're not just comms tools, they're productivity launchpads, collaboration enablers, knowledge hubs and so the list goes on. With the right intranet in place, enterprises are poised to thrive in the hybrid era. But the wrong platform can create hurdles that even the most perseverent teams cannot overcome. So, how do you know when you've outgrown your SharePoint intranet?
7 signs that SharePoint is holding you back
You feel like something is getting in the way of your comms masterplan and you have a sneaking suspicion SharePoint is the root cause. If you're spotting more than a couple of the signs below, chances are you're due a platform upgrade...
#1. User adoption is steadily declining
Big red flag number one isn't difficult to guess. If your intranet adoption is hitting an all-time low - there's a problem. Could it be that your content just isn't very engaging? Have your people developed telepathic abilities? Or is it simply that the platform just isn't meeting expectations? If you're using SharePoint, it's probably the latter.
We know SharePoint isn't designed to be an employee engagement tool, so why are we surprised that employees aren't engaging? Today, platform UX and design is everything. Your people are used to apps that are carefully curated to drive engagement and enable convenience. If your intranet isn't delivering on these expectations, it lets down your employer brand and harms employee experience at large.
It's a simple equation: if a system is hard to use, people aren't going to use it! So when you try to bend a document management tool to take the place of an intranet, you're building on sand. Yes, you can customize and bring in IT resource to make the best of a bad situation, but you're facing an uphill battle.
What's the alternative?
The alternative to this is simply to offer user experiences that live up to employee expectations, a hub people actually want to use, and a tool people enjoy having at hand. Driving user adoption shouldn't be a difficult thing, because you shouldn't have to convince people to use your new platform if it's easy to use and the benefits are clear. This also means that a few months down the road, when that initial novelty wears off, people won't suddenly desert the platform and adoption metrics won't begin to contract.
A built-for-purpose employee experience platform drives engagement by delivering experiences that are tailored to the individual at a granular level, not just to certain demographics and broad audiences. The ability to recommend relevant content to your employees, and dynamically learn from user behaviour to improve these recommendations, is what brings people back consistently - and keeps adoption high.
#2. Comms are buckling under the workload
We're in the era of information overload. Comms teams are battling against a tide of critical updates, the volume of which is higher than ever before. Getting comms out quickly and efficiently and in a format and on a channel that meets the right people at the right time is the mission de jour! If your comms people are finding themselves inhibited by a complex CMS and a platform that doesn't incorporate every channel in one place, they're being unnecessarily slowed down. And for employees, the result of inefficient comms is low engagement.
When your people aren't easily able to easily design new pages, update old content, create dynamic stories, upload videos etc - they're being held back. When comms teams complain of burnout but the platform they're required to use takes a user manual to complete simple tasks, it's a big sign that change is needed.
What's the alternative?
A fit-for-purpose employee engagement platform like an employee experience platform is built for comms teams to own and use intuitively. Instead of copying and pasting across channels, creating campaign schedules in Excel sheets, and reporting on metrics on another system; an employee experience platform removes the manual labour, letting you automate the automatable and manage everything in one place so you can focus on creating and innovating instead.
The big hitter for comms teams when it comes to the value of an employee experience platform comes in the form of Engagement Automation. Engagement Automation brings marketing-grade campaign-building technology to enterprise internal communicators, letting you plan, schedule and track complex comms campaigns across channels from one place. At last, you compete with external brand marketing to win the attention of employees and get your message to land.
A recent Forrester report found that enterprises switching from SharePoint to Unily saw comms efficiency increase by 50%. Hours saved amounted to 300+ over a 3-year period, equating to a monetary saving of $4.8m. So when you're looking for signs that SharePoint is holding you back, ask what your comms team could do with 50% more time.
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#3. You struggle to reach everyone
When you look at the metrics you have - be it hard data or serendipitous feedback - if you're finding that significant segments of your employee population aren't getting the updates you need them to have, you know you're running into problems. For enterprises with extensive frontline workforces, this can be particularly apparent. Relying on trickle-down mechanisms or (heaven-forbid) traditional print formats to reach colleagues isn't sustainable. What you need is a single, central platform that can be accessed by everyone equitably, so no one is left out of the loop. One of SharePoint's greatest pitfalls is its mobile experience; or lack of. To be truly inclusive in your comms approach, an effective mobile platform is a must. If colleagues can't access comms on the move or on-the-ground and that's translating to employee disconnect, it's time to consider whether SharePoint can fulfil your needs.
What's the alternative?
The best way to reach your people is to meet them where they already are. When you opt for SharePoint, you're asking people to come back to a central hub every time they need updates. You do want to offer this, but it needs to be supported multi-channel campaign technology that allows your comms to reach across systems and get your message out where people are working - be it Slack, Teams, mobile or digital signage. An employee experience platform allows you to unite your channels and deliver an equitable experience to all employees regardless of their access requirements or channel preferences. When combined with Engagement Automation, comms teams can double down on reach by taking advantage of conditional workflows to deliver automated prompts to employees across channels that drive interaction with important content.
#4. You can’t measure anything
Back to metrics. If you can't easily see who's reading what, you've got big problems. How can you evolve your strategy if you don't know your baseline stats? While SharePoint offers rudimentary view counts, it doesn't let you easily see how different segments of your workforce are responding to different content types. It doesn't let you set content goals or automate prompts when goals aren't achieved.
If you're struggling to provide cogent metrics on what's working and what's not, you won't be able to make a case for further investment, and any hopes of evolution will be stunted. When leadership come knocking for information on the impact of your strategy, and you feel a familiar pang of anxiety; it's a sign that SharePoint isn't delivering on your needs.
What's the alternative?
Where SharePoint was not originally built for comms, and thus doesn't measure or report on employee engagement data of any meaning, employee experience platforms allow you to measure success and learn what your employees care about with real-time analytics reporting on the things that matter. This means you can read the room whenever you want and leverage insights to underpin your long-term communications strategy.
Out-of-the-box custom dashboards offer real-time snapshots of data that matters to you, helping you track viewership across devices, roles, and locations so you can identify engagement trends to shape your strategy. With Unily, you also gain the support of specialist Customer Success teams to help you translate data into insights and support you with strategies to tackle your pain points.
Where SharePoint leaves you in the dark, Unily lets you track specific data points to provide an up-to-date analysis of what's working. You can even see how your engagement scores compare with companies of a similar size, industry, or geography with monthly adoption reports that put your engagement data into a wider context.
#5. Employees complain content is outdated
Outdated content erodes trust. An intranet that's full of outdated information isn't just useless; it's harmful. But how can you keep content up to date when you don't have an easy way of tracking which pages are in need of review?
At first, things were great. You had a home for your content and everything was vetted and organized meticulously. Fast forward a few years, and suddenly you’ve got more libraries, lists, orphaned sites, out-of-date pages, stale documents, and irrelevant search results than you know what to do with. It's easy for content governance to get out of hand when you're reliant on disparate teams to keep content up-to-date. What you need is an automated system that flags when a page is in need of review and assigns the task to the relevant team lead. If you're hoping SharePoint will deliver an easy solution to this, keep hoping.
If you’re hearing employees complain about outdated content, and the task to validate the hundreds of sites and subsites you have has you reading for a pen to write your resignation letter – hold the pen. It doesn’t have to be this way! With the right platform, governance doesn’t have to be a headache.
What's the alternative?
Although features such as Content Lifecycle Reviews, Automated Review Workflows, and designated page owners exist in SharePoint, they are complicated and require extensive planning and configuration. This means that unless you’re one of the few power users on the platform, getting these governance controls in place will be a complex undertaking.
On the flip side, employee experience platforms are built from the ground up to meet the needs of internal communicators and simplify content governance. Content Review Lifecycles are easy to use, allowing you to automate the labor-intensive task of keeping content up-to-date. This, combined with good search analytics and result boosting, means you can determine what your users are searching for most often, allowing you to fine-tune your results via relevancy/field search settings and assuring your users are getting the most up-to-date version of the information they are looking for. Furthermore, with the dedicated support that comes with an employee experience platform like Unily, there’s always help at hand to navigate any challenges.
Maintaining a single-source-of-truth intranet with content review lifecycles
Diamonds may last forever, but content won't. An intranet full of outdated and irrelevant content is no use to anyone, so Unily has made maintaining accurate content easier than ever with the release of our new content review lifecycles feature.
#6. Support tickets are piling up
If you feel like you've got more bugs than the Ants movie, you're hitting a SharePoint roadblock. When you're relying on IT to patch up problem after problem, how are you supposed to evolve and innovate, let alone just maintain a regular flow of comms? The problem with SharePoint is that you're going it alone. You don't have a dedicated success manager to support your project, you don't have a support team dedicated to fixing your issues, and your totally reliant on internal resources to fix problems when they arise.
What's the alternative?
When you make the decision to move from SharePoint to an employee experience platform, you don't just get a product; you get a service. Employee experience platform providers give you a platform that's been rigorously tested for bugs before any new releases or updates are thrown at you, but not just that, they also give you teams to support your transformation journey. Every Unily customer gets their own dedicated Customer Success Manager, a real person whose mission is to help you evolve your platform in line with your business needs. Alongside monthly touchpoints with your CSM, you're also backed by a 24/7 support team on hand to fix bugs, so you never have to pester your internal IT teams again.
#7. Your platform looks the same as last year
Have you heard the intranet idiom that a platform that doesn't grow fails? It's true. Just as your business is evolving, the platform that supports your people needs to evolve with it. So if your intranet still looks like it did last year, you've got 99 problems and the platform's one. The reason that SharePoint intranets tend to stagnate is that making changes is a resource-intensive task. Often, even the smallest of adjustments require IT support and coding know-how. As a result, comms teams are left to do their best with what they've got, which leads to unengaging experiences that don't delight your audience or support the needs of your business.
What's the alternative?
Low and no-code platforms give comms teams the flexibility to build pages and sites in seconds, trial new layouts in safe staging environments, and get to grips with designing new digital experiences without relying entirely on IT or vendors to update their platform. This agility allows you to keep your platform fresh, updating the look, feel, and capabilities of your platform without being attached to the schedule and resources of other departments.
With Unily, this kind of agile approach to development extends beyond design to features and integrations, meaning you don't need to technical training to install 3rd party integrations with other tools from you enterprise tech stack. For example, you could choose to bring all the document storage capabilities of SharePoint into a more modern digital experience by integrating your SharePoint sites and documents. This allows you to search for the documents and SharePoint sites you need from within Unily’s global search center and rollup specific documents and sites across your digital workplace to put them into a broader context. All of this functionality would typically require custom development and expertise to build, but with the Unily Feature Store it can be added to your platform in just minutes.
Goodbye SharePoint, hello future
If you're resonating with the signs above, it sounds like you're hitting the SharePoint glass ceiling. And you're not alone. To succeed in the future of work, employees need high-quality digital tools, and your intranet is hot real estate. SharePoint wasn't built to be a comms tool or an employee engagement platform - but dedicated software does exist. To learn more about how an employee experience platform can transform internal comms and empower employees to succeed in the next chapter of work, get your free demo and discover a future beyond SharePoint.
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