'Complicated' SharePoint loses out to Igloo for Children's Hospital Foundation intranet

'Complicated' SharePoint loses out to Igloo for Children's Hospital Foundation intranet

Summary: Social business intranets enable collaboration, knowledge sharing and the breaking down of organisational siloes. But are they sometimes too complicated for users to bother with?


An Enterprise solution like Microsoft’s SharePoint is easy to install. Easy that is, if you prepare your infrastructure appropriately. You need to prepare your administrative, domain and service accounts, set the SQL Server agent service account and configure the setup user account.

You then need to configure the SQL Server instances to listen on the correct port, configure the firewall and performance tune your Windows Server.

Finally you start the installation itself. You need to decide whether you want to install SharePoint in a stand alone server configuration or a server farm. You need to consider whether you want to set up application pools of web application collaboration sites, community or team sites.

You need to add apps for extra functionality. You can build apps for SharePoint itself, or if you prefer, go to the App Catalog or online store to install apps on the system.

Your IT team needs to have developer knowledge, infrastructure knowledge and web developer knowledge for a really effective deployment.

They also need to have time to go through over 600 pages of the SharePoint 2013 Deployment guide before they start to proceed.

Credit: Igloo

There is a lot to do.

The problem is, most small and medium sized businesses do not have access to these types of resources.

The Children's Hospital Foundation in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area is one such business.

It wanted something that went beyond e-mail and a difficult to manage shared drive to enable its users to collaborate with each other.

Children’s Hospital Foundation (the fundraising division of Children's National Medical Center CNMC) has served the nation’s children as a provider of paediatric care for over 140 years.

It has an ‘aggressive philanthropy goal’ to double philanthropy from $45 to $90 million in the next five years. Currently its 127 employees, interns and consultants relied heavily on e-mail, meetings, and pen and paper.

Management had a vision for the intranet to not just be a place to store files, but to facilitate collaboration, foster innovation, and breakdown silos. Another critical factor for the foundation was ease of use, including the capacity for single sign-on.

Applications used included Wufoo's online form builder, Logi Analytics as a dashboard client, Google Apps, Google Analytics, TeamGantt and MerlinOne.

Whilst the CNMC intranet was based on SharePoint, the foundation found that it did not meet the foundation’s requirements.

“We would never have the devoted, specialized team that a SharePoint installation requires, nor would we get buy-in from staff with such a complicated tool”.

~ Ken Fonzi, Children’s Hospital Foundation

Although SharePoint was considered as an option, the foundation also evaluated Igloo, Yammer, Box and Noodle.

Microsoft Sharepoint is a platform but it is often deployed by companies that expect an application. It is also considered complex to manage effectively without specialised skills.

Ken Fonzi, Associate Director of online Information systems said that the “complicated giant” would require a “devoted, specialized team” if they were to install it.

‘One of the key requirements was that the intranet needed to have a strong brand identity, in look, feel and functionality’ said Fonzi.

Yammer, Box and Noodle were discounted early on in the evaluation and planning process. The foundation felt that the layout was too ‘templated’ with little opportunity to customise with CSS,HTML or Javascript.

The foundation chose Igloo software citing that Igloo gave the foundation an information portal where employees can access all of the different applications used at the foundation. Igloo integrated with the online tools the foundation used - serving as a hub to collaborate.

“I think it is important to define the "what's in it for me?" for each user. You need to find and articulate the practical business reasons for using the new platform - workers won't use it just to be social”. said Fonzi.

Intranet deployments need to be carefully considered as we move towards the social business, but with many companies sometimes the all-singing, all-dancing solution does not give them everything they want. 

Learning how the users actually will use the proposed system is something that often matters the most.

Topics: Social Enterprise, CXO, Collaboration, Enterprise 2.0

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Been saying it all along

    Sharepoint is a convoluted mess that is expensive to deploy, hard to use, and unfit for any business.

    IOW, Sharepoint, like Exchange/Outlook, and other MS solutions is a total Pile of $hit.
    • SharePoint

      I'm sure that SharePoint might have its uses. However, MS salespeople have been marketing this product to upper mangement as if it can do anything.

      The organization I work for has bought the hype, hook, link and sinker. Unfortunately, those who have determined that everything -- from processes to databases -- will be migrated to SharePoint are not the ones who have to use it or maintain it.

      This reminds me of the old fairytale "Rumplestilskin," where the miller bragged about his daughter's straw-to-gold spinning skills and the king bought into it. However, it wasn't the miller or the king who was expected to pull off this miracle.
      sissy sue
  • apples to oranges

    you are comparing an in house deployment of SharePoint to a hosted service that is $12 per person a month, hosted SharePoint does not require any of the steps you mentioned and is $4 per user per month
    Sean Westcott
  • Not even close

    This article lacks so much substance and the fundamental understanding of what SharePoint actually is. Its like comparing basecamp to sharepoint just because they both can share word documents... Sad to see a hospital shoving all of their data in the cloud rather than managing it themselves!
    • Re: fundamental understanding of what SharePoint actually is

      If the customers aren't understanding the product and staying away from it for that reason, whose fault is that?
  • Agree - SharePoint in the Cloud

    is cost effective, but that's it. It's a platform that tries to be everything and consequently, doesn't do any of it very well. You still need a bevy of savvy consultants to make it fit your needs.
  • e waste management

    Ul Trust aims to increase value for all electronic inventories, right from end of life electronics to surplus and second’s electronics, while ensuring a safer and more secure future for the planet. Under the supervision of our experts, waste and scrap of electronic and electrical industry is treated, disposed and recycled at our factory unit spread in 4 acre in Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu and stored the finished goods in two godowns,. http://www.ultrustsolutions.com
  • They made the right choice...

    If you have an IT staff that lacks the skills to set up SQL Server and read deployment guides, then you do not want to go near SharePoint.

    However, with skilled staff, SharePoint shines and experienced SharePoint Admins, Developers, and Architects do not have to start from scratch reading a deployment guide to know what to do.

    SharePoint is a very deep product, and only limited by your skills and imagination. It has been amazing for our organization, and we have benefited from it every day.
  • Whither journalism?

    Here is the problem with this piece: "Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and advisor", and, I should add, JAMH (Just Another Microsoft Hater).

    This piece is like the scene in the movie Amadeus where the Austrian emperor, after listening to Mozart's recital, complains that the work has "too many notes." Yes, Sharepoint has too many notes. And the IT staff at this hospital are ill served by their management and consultants. Let's hope that Ms. Brown was not advising them. Let's also hope that Ms. Brown never has a career as a Ferrari salesperson because a Ferrari has too many horsepower!

    First of all, I would never advise any organization as small as this hospital to deploy their own on-premise SharePoint server. Why, nowadays, we have this newfangled thing called "the cloud" and you can deploy SharePoint 2013 for the right princely sum of $5/user/month. Well, $5/user/month if you are a for-profit, capitalist enterprise. If you are a non-profit, hosted SharePoint can be had for the low, low everyday price of exactly Z.E.R.O. dollars!

    ZDNet, fire this 'journalist' forthwith and hire someone who will spend some time doing some background before phoning in nonsensical musings like this. Oh, and SSO is also available with Office 365.

    Memo to self: don't read anything by Eileen Brown. Memo to the rest of you: Do. not. hire. this. woman. as. a. consultant. Ever. Even if it is for the soon to be discredited, B.S. pseudo-discipline of social media.
    Fred The Kat
    • Mirepresentation and characterisation

      Fred, I think you missed the boat. Not every company wants to have their data in the cloud and not ever company find Microsoft or other companies products a perfect fit for their environment. SharePoint is a great product but it doesn't fit every business case and requires a lot of planning and due diligence about project design.

      Our company looked at SharePoint initially and the consulting alone put it about double another ECM product so you have to be very careful. You really sound like a professional belittling a reporter for dare mentioning a non-Microsoft product. Good work.
  • Most vendors don't get it

    I've traveled a long road with SharePoint and Jive. You want to waste a lot of money and scare and frustrate your customers? The part all these software DON'T get is that all the features (file sharing, proj mgt, wiki, etc) are very much commoditized. First it has to be rock solid secure. Then must be easy, as in Facebook easy. Because otherwise you're going to spend a whole bunch of time and money on complicated interface that customer won't use. We have a whole lot scars in this area, but saw the importance of "customer engagement". We now use Centroy. It's dead simple, yet has all the fancy features boiled down like Apple. I'm not at all tied to these guys. Just a satified customer. Check them out. http://centroy.com