Sunday, September 08, 2013

Jive Software Alternatives - Bitrix24 (Free)

I came to believe that Bitrix24 and not Yammer or Chatter is the best Jive Software alternative with a bit IF - if, being that your company is under 1000 employees and you need ESN not just as 'corporate Facebook', but as a social productivity environtment (sounds confusing, but I will explain).

Before I get to explain my reasoning, let's start with same basics, there are actually two different enterprise social networks called Bitrix24. One is 100% free(mium) hosted enterprise social network that comes with free CRM, free PM and free DocManagement, available at It also comes with some HR and Enterprise tools in the paid plans. Paid plans are $99 and $199 a month with UNLIMITED users. Yes, this is not a typo - you can have 500 employees and it'll cost you only $199 a month (until you run out of 100 GB of disc space, after that you'll have to pay additional $50 a month for extra100 GB). This makes Bitrix24 SaaS insanely cheap when compared with Jive, Yammer or Chatter. So if your organization is cost-sensitive, I suggest you take a look at the cloud offering, but keep in mind that integrations and customizations for the SaaS version of Bitrix24 are not as rich as the self hosted version.

Confused? You should be. There is actually a second intranet offering called Bitrix24, available through It's actually what the cloud version runs on. The self-hosted version which, as the name implies you get to host on your own servers and customize/brand it in any way you want, because it comes with it's own CMS and source code. This intranet software is available in two interfaces, classic and social (as seen in cloud Bitrix24) and has a ton of features - employee directory, portal dashboards, company structure, new employee orientation, video accouncements/polls and surveys, company photo gallery, absence chart, meeting room reservation, idea management module, service request forms, intranet instant messaging and intranet video chat, task management, time management, business process/workflow management, e-Learning and knowledge management, ticketing and helpdesk, integration with Outlook, Active Directory/LDAP, MS Exchange Server, SharePoint connector, mobile intranet and so on. If you want to try that 'second' version, you have to download a trial version and install in on your PC/server.

While there is a big overlap between the cloud and the self-hosted versions of Bitrix24, the best feature of the self-hosted version (in addtion to all the integrations and API available) is the multidepartment edition of Bitrix24 called BizPace Enterprise, which allows you to create any number of independent intranets for different branches, departments or divisions of your company. If you have offices in New York, London, Sydney, Moscow, Berlin, San Paolo, etc - each office can have own intranet, and they will all be managed from a central command and control hub. With all the other vendors you'd have to pay for each intranet based on the number of users.

The self-hosted version of Bitrix24 costs anywhere between $2300 and $9990 flat one time free. Each version comes with 25 intranet users. Each extra user is $40. Unlimited user license costs $30,000 but here's a little trick - the self-hosted version, even the basic $2300 edition, comes with unlimited EXTRANET users. So if your workforce is mobile or you work with a lot of contactors, Bitrix24 will be essentially free for all the practical purposes, because you won't have to buy all those extra users.

Now, cost advantages aside, let's get to the point why Bitrix24 makes a better alternative to Jive than Yammer or Chatter. The first reason is a really really good CRM that comes with it - complete with Send'n'Save email intetration, invoices, vitrual telephony support, sales funner and mobile CRM.SalesForce CRM is $60 a month per user and Microsoft Dynamics isn't much cheaper. The fact that Bitrix24 comes with own CRM makes incredibly appealing to sales and marketing centric companies. Project Management module is another really powerful addition. But Document Management is where Bitrix24 really shines. It's no secret that Microsoft bought Yammer to sell Office 365. While Bitrix24 integrates with MS Office and Office 365, it's true intention is to make your company MS Office free (and MS Office suite is quite pricy) by letting you work with your documents through Google Docs, Open Office or LibreOffice. Bitrix24.Drive, which is a free Dropbox alternative, is another useful tool IMHO (Bitrix24 works with SkyDrive and GoogleDrive too).

When is Bitrix24 not best Jive alternative option? If your complany is very, very large. I found no information about SAP integration for instance or integration with IBM products. Yammer may be a better option if you don't want your ESN to have any worktools and only serve for internal communication purposes. Yammer and Chatter also seem to have more languages available (the cloud version is only available in Russian, English and German, while the self-hosted version supports only 13 different languages).

Still, the free cloud version of Bitrix24 is pretty darn impressive and I suggest you give it a serious consideration.