How can Slack replace SharePoint

Digital workplace

Even in times of home office, texts, tables, presentations and other documents need to be edited. There are often several people involved in the work, for example when it comes to consolidating different content in one document or implementing approval processes. In the past, the procedure was often complex and error-prone. Different versions of a document were sent back and forth via email. At some point nobody knew which version was the current one. In the worst case, the work was lost in whole or in part because an employee deleted a supposedly outdated document or because the backup was forgotten.

For several years there have been applications and online services that promise users solutions for joint editing of documents. This has many advantages: Authorizations are clearly distributed, everyone knows the current version status. All processing steps can be traced and saved transparently so that no more content is lost. In addition, users are no longer restricted to their office workstation. Documents can also be called up online in the home office or on mobile devices, edited and stored and synchronized in the corresponding workspace.

There are now numerous providers who offer services for editing and saving a wide variety of documents. Find out which collaboration tools and services Microsoft, Google and Co. have in their program and what you can do with them. Our picture gallery gives a quick overview of the collaboration tools in this article:

  1. Microsoft OneDrive
    In Microsoft's online storage, One Drive, you can define who can access which documents.
  2. Microsoft SharePoint
    Microsoft's SharePoint also serves as a content hub. However, the administration can sometimes be a bit complicated.
  3. Google G Suite
    With its "G Suite", Google also offers users a complete office environment in the cloud, including mail, business chat and video conferencing. The various Google services can be accessed via a dashboard.
  4. Dropbox
    Dropbox offers business users the ability to store, share and edit documents.
  5. box
    With Box, content should be able to be controlled and managed from anywhere - including mobile.
  6. Axway Syncplicity
    In Axway Syncplicity, activity feeds ensure transparency about who is editing and changing files and folders and how.
  7. Egnyte
    Egnyte offers a range of security features in its content collaboration platform.
  8. Slack
    Slack has expanded its chat solution with functions for content handling.
  9. Salesforce Quip
    With Quip, Salesforce users can integrate documents and content into their project workflows.
  10. Amazon Workdocs
    WorkDocs from Amazon focuses on the cloud and is designed to replace on-premise infrastructures.

Microsoft 365: Editing documents together has many faces

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is an office software package from the cloud that offers users additional collaboration options in addition to classic Office applications such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. This includes, for example, collaboration and communication via teams as well as working together on documents. The latter works via different components in Microsoft's cloud cosmos.

For example, individual Office documents can be stored in Microsoft's "OneDrive" online storage. In programs such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint, users can define how individual content stored in OneDrive can be edited. This includes, among other things, who is allowed to access and change documents and how.

In addition, files can be protected with a password and finally marked as "finished". OneDrive itself can also be used to define how and with whom documents should be shared. There are many ways to share documents in the Microsoft universe, but sometimes also a bit confusing. For example, users can also exchange content directly via the Teams collaboration tool. Another option is Sharepoint. As in a document management system (DMS), SharePoint documents can be versioned and enriched with metadata.

Users can check in and check out content and set up approval processes for documents. In addition, you can be informed as soon as the contents of a library, a list or a document are changed. Since many companies cover their software requirements in the office with Office products from Microsoft, it makes sense to also use the collaboration functions of the software giant.

It is important to ensure that the required features are also included in the scope of delivery of the licensed Microsoft 365 version. In addition, especially when it comes to setting up and managing authorizations in Sharepoint, you also need the corresponding know-how in your own IT department.

Microsoft 365 runs on the Azure cloud platform. The software company also offers its office applications for other platforms such as Android and Apple's iOS. This can also be used to integrate content from non-Microsoft applications. This works, for example, via Office Graph. This is a tool that supports users in their search for content. In addition, with the help of machine learning, the system learns how users handle certain documents and, based on this, suggests certain content and actions to users. Office Graph also networks information from various sources - for example via an API also from Salesforce systems.

Google Workspace: Collaboration Office in the cloud

With its "Workspace", the successor to the "G Suite", Google also offers users a complete office environment in the cloud, including mail, business chat and video conferencing. The data hub for applications such as Google Docs (documents), Sheets (tables) and Slides (presentations) is the cloud storage "Google Drive". With the "Business" and "Enterprise" versions, user companies receive unlimited storage capacity in Google's cloud storage.

With shared drives in Google Drive, users can keep all of their team's documents in one shared storage space. Files that are added to this shared storage belong to the whole team, so that all members always stay up to date, the provider promises. Users can authorize other users to download, view, comment or edit. This prevents the creation of different file versions that have to be laboriously merged again later.

There is also the option to set expiration dates for shared files. With the help of "Google Vault", which is included as standard in the Business and Enterprise Editions of the Workspace, retention rules can also be defined, for example how long certain information should be kept. This works with different levels of granularity, from individual organizational units and teams to an entire domain.

Vault also offers additional search and export functions. Google is also working on making it easier for users to access the data they need. To do this, the cloud specialist relies on techniques such as artificial intelligence (AI). With the help of machine learning algorithms, the system learns how and which data individual users access and accordingly makes suggestions in certain situations as to which information and files might be needed now.

In addition to the files generated in the Google system, data from third-party systems can also be integrated. For example, there are plug-ins for Microsoft Office and Outlook. Google says that over 40 different file types including PDF and MPEG4 can be opened in Drive and edited there directly. Just as Microsoft customers need an Office account, Google users also need an account if they want to share files.

However, for some time now it has also been possible to share files with people who do not have a Google account. To do this, the owner of a workspace document sends an invitation with a link to the file that is to be jointly edited. The recipient then receives a personal identification number (PIN). After entering this PIN, he can also open and edit the approved document.

Dropbox Business: More than just storage

With the business edition of its storage service, the online storage specialist Dropbox offers a wide range of functions relating to the filing, approval and processing of documents. There are three different versions. As standard (ten or 12 euros per user and month depending on the length of the subscription), users have tools for sharing or releasing files and for collaboration.

The advanced version (15 or 18 euros) offers more storage space and transfer volume as well as additional features for administration, audits, integration and security. Finally, the Enterprise version (price on request) includes a central administration console as well as additional monitoring and control functions. In connection with Dropbox Business Enterprise, the provider speaks of a "productivity platform" for user companies.

In addition to pure data storage, Dropbox offers a whole range of collaboration features. Individual resources for individual teams and departments can be set up and managed within the cloud storage. Users can invite colleagues to work on documents together. In addition to Office files, this can also be Google Files, for example. Links to the documents can be protected with a password. It is also possible to set a time-limited period of validity for an access.

Users outside of your own company can also access folders or individual files - even if they are not Dropbox users. In order to control these releases, the corresponding links can be protected with passwords and expiration dates. When working together on documents, feedback and comments can be collected. Added or edited and changed files are automatically synchronized so that everyone involved always has the latest version of the corresponding files in their Dropbox folder.

For working on documents, Dropbox offers the "Paper" function. This means that documents can be jointly edited in real time, according to the provider. In Paper it should also be possible to automate certain tasks, for example the design of documents, the creation of presentations and the tracking of tasks in a team. Dropbox offers a central portal for managing teams and data. User lists including their authorizations can be controlled here. With the help of audit logs, administrators can keep track of how data is shared with individuals inside and outside their own company. Filters and search functions enable analyzes of data usage.

Various security levels should be used for the security of the company information stored in Dropbox, including multifactor authentication. In addition, team members can be registered using existing identity management software