Sunday, July 21, 2013

Best Free Sharepoint Alternative

Lately I get a lot of questions about best SharePoint alternative. Or 'What's the best free SharePoint alternative?'. Answering the second question is very easy, because there's only one truly good free SharePoint alternative, especially since it's better than SharePoint itself in many respects - Bitrix24.

So let's take a closer look at Bitrix24 and other options. Bitrix24 has at least three advantages over SharePoint. First, it's 100% free for small companies (defined as up to 12 users), and if your company is larger it's either $99-$199 a month flat (regardless of how many employees you have) or $2k-$3k for the 'box' version that you host on your servers and own for life. So right here your savings are at least $10k-$20k, so if your mission is to find a free or cheaper alternative - done.

Let's look at features at Bitrix24 vs Sharepoint - it's going to look like Yes/No. Choice of free, cloud or box. Free CRM. Free Project Management. Free SkyDrive (5GB). Social Intranet (not available in Sharepoint without purchase of Yammer). Mobile app. Document management that supports Google Apps. Business process designer. Time Tracking. Work reports. Tasks. Workgroups. Free WebRTC based videoconferencing, Etc.

Obviously, I could keep listing Bitrix24 advantages, but it's like kicking a dead dog - SharePoint is a dying platform - no wonder Microsoft paid $1.2 billion dollars for Yammer last year. So let's look at disadvantages as well. Out of 9000 Bitrix24 partners only around 1500 are in Northern America or Europe  (vs at least 100K SharePoint partners). So finding a local Bitrix24 partner in smaller towns might be a problem. Issue number two - Bitrix24 is currently the fastest growing social intranet for small businesses. Combine that with a smallish partner network and you get the picture - if you call a SharePoint partner, they'll court you, keep calling you back, insist on scheduling a meeting, invite you to a steak dinner, because they really want to get 20K from you. Bitrix24 partner are typically busy - if you want intranet, you'll get it, but don't expect special treatment and don't be surprised if you are asked to wait.

So what about paid SharePoint alternatives? That's when the question gets tricky. If you have up to 350 employees, Bitrix24 is proably still your best alternative in terms of available features, ease of use and security, though other players like LifeRay become viable. In my personal opition, companies that have 150-500 employees get the most out of Bitrix24. But once ou get over one thousand employees, your choice gets wider. SalesForce Chatter is a viable alternative, especially if you use SalesForce CRM. Jive is a decent option for a company with at least ten thousand employees. Tibbr, though feature poor has pricing advantages that neither Jive nor Chatter offer.