Alternatives to Passageways OnSemble and Microsoft SharePoint

Finding the right employee intranet can be an immense endeavor for a bank or credit union. Microsoft’s SharePoint and Passageways OnSemble are often the first to make the list, but may not be the ideal fit for all banks and credit unions. In this blog post we’ll guide you through 4 key questions to consider during your research and selection process for the right employee intranet for your institution.

1. What is your primary reason(s) for a new or alternative intranet solution?

Before selecting a product, it’s critical to understand the primary needs and objectives the employee intranet must fulfill for your institution. For example, must it serve as a central documentation library? An employee communication portal? Employee training and learning management system (LMS)? Knowledge base? Chances are, you are looking for a solution that can deliver on most or all these needs.

It may be enticing to select a solution that claims to resolve for all your needs. However, be mindful of the degree of specialization or expertise (or lack, thereof) it provides. In our experience with customers who sought Engageware Employee Knowledge Management as an alternative to Passageways or SharePoint, a do-it-all solution can often serve up mediocre results.

Ensure your organization is clearly aligned on its goal(s) for an intranet and prioritization of those goal(s). You can do so by answering the questions, “What problems are we looking to solve, and why?” and, “How important is solving that problem?” Determining your “must-haves” will allow you to choose a provider with expertise focused on these specific areas.

2. What is your desired end-user experience? Navigation-based vs. Search-based UX

Secondly, consider the desired end-user experience. Who will be the predominant end-user? If it’s important for your frontline staff to find and follow procedure and policy information, think about how they will be able to do so. What will that experience look like for them?

This is where user experience (UX) becomes an important consideration.

Portals can operate as either a navigation-based UX, or search-based UX. In a navigation-based UX, the user must navigate through content to find what they are looking for. In a search-based UX or search-first model, the user experience is determined by the user’s search inquiry.

A good way to visualize the difference is to think about Yahoo vs. Google. Yahoo features a navigation-based UX, with a content-heavy dashboard featuring articles, headlines, media, ads, and widgets. A search bar is present, but is secondary to the content-driven navigation. Google, on the other hand, features a search-based UX, presenting a very clean, simple interface with a search bar as the central focal point.

graphic of a search bar

Some key factors to consider when thinking about which UX is best suited for your end-users:

  • How important is it that the end-user has clear, obvious access to a simple search bar?
  • How important is speed and efficiency? (i.e. How quickly should the end-user be able to find what they are looking for?)

“Visitors are becoming more and more comfortable using a search interface to discover new content and to navigate large and extremely complex sites on a regular basis.”Cludo, Jan. 2016

3. Do you want an out-of-the-box user interface or build-your-own?

If you seek customizability, the do-it-yourself aspect of Passageways OnSemble product can be particularly appealing. The tool offers numerous widgets and a drag-and-drop interface to design a custom employee intranet.

This can be valuable if your institution has a UX expert designated to design the dashboard. If not, it can be a significant time and money drain to task an inexperienced employee with creating the employee portal. It can even lead to issues with inefficiency, find-ability, and usability, challenging users to cut through noise and clutter. You may have heard of the paradox of choice, or decision paralysis. Too many choices (options, widgets) can often overwhelm users and make it more difficult to navigate and use an intranet.

Conversely, a solution that has an out-of-box interface designed by UX experts and data-driven insights is not only more “turn-key,” but is proven and tested to meet the needs of the end-users.  Engageware provides out-of-the-box employee portals that are tested and designed for maximum efficiency and usability, allowing employees to quickly and easily find what they need to do their jobs. No need to build it from the ground-up, or take guesses at what works on your end.

4. Which is more important: Document Storage or Content Maintenance?

Another top consideration is the purpose of the employee intranet. Ask yourself: will the sought-after solution primarily serve as storage for your institution’s documentation, or is it more important to be able to manage and maintain that documentation in real-time?

If storage is the priority, a solution like SharePoint may suffice. If the main purpose for finding a new or alternative solution is to have the ability to actively manage and maintain content, you may find that Passageways OnSemble and SharePoint fall short.

It’s one thing to store content, but another to easily manage changes and make it accessible and useful for your end users. Engageware’s intranet solution focuses on content optimization and management, with features like a centralized content approval workflow, and content drafting, editing, approval, history, and versioning. Together the two (expertise + technology) optimize content search and delivery, ensuring there is one version of the truth for policies and procedures.

The root cause of a failing bank employee intranet is a content problem, not a technology problem. Afterall, you want a banking intranet that helps, not hinders, employee productivity and revenue growth. The quicker and easier employees can find correct information, the faster and more efficiently they’ll be able to service your consumers. Ensuring compliance becomes a lot easier when employees are delivering the right answers, every time.

Learn more about Employee Knowledge Management serving as a comprehensive answer platform for 200+ banks and credit unions.

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