In this article, we will talk about Microsoft’s web-based, collaborative document management and storage platform, SharePoint Knowledge Management System. We have studied the platform and we found some flaws and some advantages of using the software for your company. If you have confusion like - is SharePoint a knowledge management system, then continue reading this blog post.
If you are thinking of taking a subscription to the software for your company, we suggest that you read this article to understand if the software would be compatible with your requirements or not. You will also understand how to choose the correct knowledge management system in this article to help you conduct your research with other software on your own if you need to.
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How to choose the correct knowledge management system?
Choosing the right knowledge management system for your company is not a child’s play.
With so many different knowledge base software available, it could become rather complicated. The software needs to meet the needs of your company, employees and also customers’.
Of course, you might be ready to adjust in some areas. It might be easier to forfeit a completely customized knowledge management system and go for a basic model if you are just starting out. However, you will still need to keep some certain points in mind while looking for a KMS. This helps you ensure that it serves your needs and does what it is supposed to do.
Consider the following points before deciding on a particular KMS for your company:
- The KM software needs to be fully functional
- It has to be easy to navigate and use, with a simple UI
- It should be cost-effective
Building a knowledge repository not only helps you and your employees but also your customers. It provides value to them and helps you improve your brand status.
While searching for a knowledge management solution that fits right with your company, you might have come across many such solutions. Some of these might be new names while others could be by well-established brands. One such well-established name in the industry is Microsoft SharePoint.
It has been generating many positive reviews, making it more popular than most. And of course, the name Microsoft does instill a certain amount of trust in you.
But does it stay true to its name? Let us see what are the top selling-points when it comes to Microsoft SharePoint for knowledge management, according to its users:
- Easy to integrate it with other programs in the Microsoft Suite
- Allows customization to a great extent
- Useful for internal as well as external purposes
While SharePoint does stand its ground pretty well, it is but obvious that every piece of software has considerable flaws and perks. It is a readymade software and hence you already know that it is not custom-built for your enterprise. So we will need to take a closer look at the software to help us understand who it is suitable for and who doesn’t really need to invest in it.
In this article, we will discuss if knowledge management in SharePoint is or isn’t the right software for you. (And if not, then we will discuss what exactly it is lacking.)
(Just to reiterate - this isn’t to say that SharePoint is not a good piece of software, we have already established that it is. However, just because a shoe is of good quality, you cannot wear it. The shoe needs to be comfortable and match your size too! In the same way, whatever we discuss here is in regards to how SharePoint is or isn’t the right software for a company.)
Let us begin!
Are you enjoying this blog so far? Here is another article you might be interested in: First Step in Knowledge Management Strategy Development Plan
Shortcomings in Microsoft SharePoint
As we mentioned above, no piece of software can be completely perfect or flawless. Here are some of the most prominent flaws that we found in the Microsoft SharePoint:
- Some features are not really needed and some necessary features are missing from the software
- Functionality and navigation is not easy or user-friendly
- The overall cost and subscription plans are not justifiable
Let us study each point separately to help you understand the same in more detail.
1. Some features are not really needed and some necessary features are missing from the software
What Microsoft SharePoint does is that it focuses on a certain type of audience only. It does not really care a lot about the audience that it might be missing on by doing so. However, this is not exactly a bad thing if your organization falls under the category of its audience. Then you stand to gain a lot from this particular piece of software.
However, if your company is not a part of this narrow set of the target audience, then we have some bad news for you. You might find that knowledge management in SharePoint lacks some important features or that it has way too many unnecessary features, based on which side of the equation you fall.
Let us focus on too many unnecessary features first. If you are a small team and looking for something that you can start with, then there are a lot of features in the software that might lead you to feel overwhelmed. It allows for a lot of in-depth customization that you might not need in the early stages. You will need to understand the tool, gain technical knowledge on it and set it up before you can finally use it.
This will use a lot of your resources and was time for no good reason. You are looking for something that helps make your life easier and knowledge management with SharePoint only contributes to add to your troubles.
Now, let us go to the other end of the spectrum and see how it might be lacking some features.
Microsoft's knowledge management system SharePoint offers its users both on-cloud as well as on-premise solutions, based on their requirements. Although that might seem like a plus point, it really isn’t.
The cloud-based version of the software lacks a lot in the features and functionality. But some other users have also pointed out that the on-premise version also lacks the functionality.
Aside from the lack of functionality, there is another problem staring organizations in the face, ready to rear its ugly head whenever it gets the chance. That is the fact that the cloud version will only support you for time-being. Once the database becomes too big, your company will need to shift to the on-premise model and spend extra amount and resources on doing the same. You might even need to train your staff to assist them in shifting from the simpler cloud version to the more complicated on-premise version.
To us, this simply seems like a lot of waste of time, resources and money.
2. Functionality and navigation is not easy or user-friendly
Now let us assume that your team of employees has enough technical knowledge to use this software by Microsoft. You even have the funds and can spare enough time to set up the on-premise version. Even then, your team will find it difficult to work with the software.
Many users have left reports on Capterra and other sites that Microsoft Sharpoint lacks a lot when it comes to functioning smoothly. One of the most common complaints is that is it very slow to load at times. It also uses a large portion of the users’ bandwidth. This is not feasible for smaller companies who are hoping to scale quickly and might be already stretching their bandwidth. It is possible that this software will end up doing more harm than good for both the company as well as to the customers.
Moreover, while SharePoint as a knowledge management system claims that it allows and improves collaboration between people, many people report issues in this too. It doesn’t have enough functionalities in the online mode as it does in the offline mode. Although it is doing its best to catch up with its competitors like GoogleDocs, it still isn’t enough. It sometimes overwrites changes or hangs in between if more than one user is working on the same document together at one time.
Last but not the least, one more technical issue that users face is difficulty in updating their software versions. This wastes a lot of time when any new updates are rolled out by the company.
Of course, it is not just the functionality that is lacking. The navigation of the software is also equally poor and difficult for most users. The search functionality in the software is not strong enough and is unable to read the information and text inside a document. For most documents, it only reads the basic description of wiki pages, so the users have to carefully pick the words that they are using as search terms.
This and the lack of information architecture makes it very difficult for the users to find any information from your knowledge base.
3. The overall cost and subscription plans are not justifiable
At first glance, it does not feel like the SharePoint’s plans are unreasonably expensive. However, the bigger your team, the more the cost. Because the plans are based on the “per user” rates and not for teams. If you have a big company with too many employees, you might find it difficult to get a subscription for everyone in the company.
Even if it is a small company with fewer employees, it might not be possible to invest a lot of recurring amount in this. Thereby, you will indirectly fail at the main purpose of the software. This software by Microsoft is supposed to be used by everyone in the company so that there is a better and improved knowledge-sharing system in place. If you do not get a subscription for some of the employees, they will find it difficult to share the documents and files with other members or even with you. It will defeat the purpose of knowledge management using SharePoint entirely.
Whether an employee is using the software for internal knowledge-sharing or for communications with the customers, you will need to pay the same amount for all the subscriptions, adding to a lot of amount at the end of the year.
There is also a major difference in SharePoint’s pricing tiers. And when you are purchasing the higher tier for your sales teams (considering that they might need more features), you will need to purchase the same tier even for your other departments even if they don’t need the higher tier. This increases the cost on the whole and it does not justify the expenses in return.
Wondering how a knowledge management systems helps you keep the costs in check? Check out this article: How a Knowledge Management System Helps an Organization
Is SharePoint a knowledge management system?
In our opinion, SharePoint does not justify itself as a true and complete knowledge management system or knowledge base software. It is, at best, a knowledge management software that does not live up to its name.
Of course, it is possible for an organization to create a knowledge base using Microsoft Sharepoint but it requires a lot of technical knowledge, costs a lot and makes use of many resources.
SharePoint is more appropriately meant to be used as a knowledge repository in which organizations and their employees can create, share and store their company’s knowledge. Although it is possible to share this data with the customers of the organization or enterprise, it is not recommended. The reason for this is that there is no real structure in the software which makes it difficult for the customers to find any useful information in it. Hence, it is much better if companies make use of this software only for their internal knowledge sharing and knowledge creation instead of turning it into a knowledge base for their customers.
True knowledge management systems are sort of like libraries or a really good search engine. It helps you find what you want without asking anyone else for help. It is easy to use and navigate and it contains the answers to most of your questions, even the more complicated ones.
1. What are some of the best open-source knowledge management software?
Answer: Although there are many, some of the top open-source knowledge management software include Documize and phpMyFAQ. You can read up on more such software in this blog: Open Source Knowledge Base Software.
2. What are knowledge management tools?
Answer: Knowledge management tools are a combination of software and hardware that companies use to ensure for creating, storing and sharing of knowledge. They use the tools for their internal communications or with the customers.
3. Is Microsoft SharePoint free?
Answer: Although Microsoft used to provide a free, barebones version of the SharePoint knowledge management system, it no longer does that. It released SharePoint in 2016 with a number of pricing tiers and now there are only paid versions of the software available in the market.
4. Is it easy to use SharePoint?
Answer: If you have been using Microsoft products like OneNote, Office365, Excel and others, then it might be easy for you to learn and adjust with SharePoint as well. However, if you have been using any other products like Google Sheets, then it is a little too complicated to understand. It depends on how comfortable you are with Microsoft. But of course, nothing is too difficult if you set down to learn it and do it with concentration.
Hence, whether your company should be using SharePoint as a knowledge management system or not depends on what you want to use it for. Using it for internal data storage and management? Go ahead! However, if you aim to improve your customer experience and increase customer satisfaction with the help of a knowledge base repository, then we suggest you find a substitute fast because this software does not make the cut.
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