Cloud Collaboration Platform Showdown: Sharepoint or Confluence?

Collaborative work on a shared platform is changing the way IT organizations create deliverables and manage knowledge. This internal digital transformation is paving the way for IT organizations and other industries to manage the way they function internally. The shared cloud platform creates a centralized location for documentation, processes, knowledge management, versioning, assignments, and workflows. However, many businesses still use shared local drives, swap USB drives, or even rely solely on emails back and forth to accomplish business goals. The problem with this approach is that it can lead to compliance issues, inaccurate documentation, inefficient processes, data storage limitations, and huge security concerns. When taking the leap to move into the modern sphere of asset development and management, research will likely lead you to the top two collaborative platform solutions: Microsoft’s SharePoint and Atlassian’s Confluence. Both platforms offer robust solutions that can be customized for your company. Both answer the need to transform how a business, well, does business!

 

So how do you decide what product to use? First you need to identify the kind of communication you think your business needs:

  • Do you just need to send deliverables across the team and have version control? Well then Sharepoint may be a good solution.

  • Do you need a knowledge management solution (like a wiki), as well as deliverable development? Confluence offers a robust knowledge management solution.

  • What about workflows and integrations into other team products? SharePoint AND Confluence offer some of these things, but to what degree do you need them to drive your goals?

  • What about other forms of documentation like processes, templates, checklists, requirements documents, backlog tracking? How are these developed internally and nurtured to publication? Both Sharepoint and Confluence offer solutions for these workflows in different methods.

 

Let's take a look at five critical areas that should be contrasted against the business needs of the product and which product offers the best overall solution for each:

 

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  1. Team Collaboration: Out of the box, Confluence offers significant customizations for team collaboration for documents. Documents are worked on together in a “live” status with back-ups of prior versions readily available. Workflows and tasks are easily assigned with a user-friendly interface. Sharepoint requires some fine tuning, advanced role assignment, can be difficult for non-IT personnel to set up workflows and does not have best practices built into the code for version controlling. Winner: CONFLUENCE

  2. Knowledge Management: If you’re working on a big project with epics and user stories, you’ll likely want to build a connective network of documents. With Confluence, a “wiki” approach is provided allowing for breakouts, associations, and individual viewing of each requirement. This allows for simpler development of processes, associated documentation, project/business tracking, and a centralized location to monitor the progress. Winner: CONFLUENCE

  3. Granular Permissions: Sharepoint allows admins to control individual users on a per folder/per sub-site basis. However, Confluence makes this set-up process significantly easier to manage across an enterprise or project. The overall usability and functionality of security within Confluence is more inherently easy to use with greater control over the visibility on a document/wiki basis. Winner: CONFLUENCE

  4. Mobile Readiness: Both platforms offer apps for iOS and Android, however, the overall ease of use is greater for SharePoint. The app is robust in its ability to view activity for specific documents and workstreams allowing for in-depth participation on the go. The Confluence Cloud app offers push notifications, allows users to pick up where they left off from desktop to mobile, and boasts a “Confluence Today” widget that prepares a task list based upon your individual workflow for the day. This app is much more streamlined and focused on getting the most important information to you as needed. Winner: SHAREPOINT

  5. Integrations: Even the best platforms are not going to offer a one-stop shop solution that fits all of your business needs. When evaluating enterprise platforms like SharePoint, Confluence, Jive, JAZZ or Linchpin, looking for the ease of integrations and apps that are readily available for “plug and play” use is crucial. Without a doubt, SharePoint crushes the competition in this regard offering over 1000 apps or “add-ins” to customize their sharing platform. While Confluence in comparison offers about 650 or so, the biggest highlight of available integrations is JIRA. When Confluence is integrated with JIRA, issues, backlogs, bugs and tests cases can be directly associated with the Epic/User story you create providing a seamless view of the project through each sprint. Winner: CONFLUENCE

 

 

The reality is, the best tool for your business is the one that will push outcomes through digital transformation. Stepping away from the shared drive on local computers or bouncing emails back and forth to join an advanced cloud based solution like SharePoint or Confluence creates significant growth through accountability. Each platform will improve compliance and accuracy, promote shared ideation/problem solving, and become a “one-stop shop” for all document needs. SharePoint offers a wide variety of apps and integrations from Microsoft, but Confluence has a simpler workflow process and integrates with enough products to build a suite that answers the business need. Either platform can be built out to be big and complicated, or streamlined and simple to use. So what’s the final say?

    

After sitting down with a multitude of clients and digging deep into their business requirements for an enterprise wide solution to manage knowledge/documents, and create a new culture of digital acceptance, there have been zero instances where I wasn’t able to build a stack of technology within Confluence that met the outcomes. I love the highly customizable nature, the multitude of high quality available apps that reduce launch time, and the ease of use. While SharePoint may boast a larger quantity of add-ins, Confluence offers highly vetted and multi-industry based integrations. The overall user experience is way less complex than many of its competitors. Overall, in the battle of platforms Confluence is the most scalable, flexible, and cross-industry capable solution to catapult your business or department into the next age of digital transformation.