SharePoint or Confluence – Which Is the Better Software for Managing Projects?

In many companies SharePoint and often Confluence are in use. They are probably the most used software tools in projects. One question I often hear is: Which is the better tool for projects and to support project management, Confluence or SharePoint? There is no clear answer to this from my point of view. It all depends on the situation. This article will give you some hints on what the two software tools are suitable for, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what other alternatives are available. Read on and learn more.

Confluence Documents Project Knowledge

SharePoint and Confluence are not actual project management software, but they are very helpful tools when it comes to making project execution much more efficient.

Confluence by Atlassian has been around since 2004 and sells itself in the following ways:

Create, collaborate, and organize all your work in one place. Confluence is a team workspace where knowledge and collaboration meet. Dynamic pages give your team a place to create, capture, and collaborate on any project or idea. Spaces help your team structure, organize, and share work, so every team member has visibility into institutional knowledge and access to the information they need to do their best work.

Confluence has a strong adoption in companies with many software projects. Often Confluence is used together with Jira, an issue and task tracking software, which is also from Atlassian. It is often used in agile projects as a task management system and among other things because of the very versatile Kanban boards.

Confluence has a reputation as a wiki software for documenting project knowledge. It is based on pages and sub-pages, which are located in workspaces for projects and teams. Here, project knowledge is documented and organized on pages with text, tables, images, checklists, etc. and made available to project team members, depending on their permissions. Team members can work together on a page. “Start with a blank page or choose from over 75 customizable templates for every team–from strategy and planning docs to reports.”

To take full advantage of Confluence, let your documents be as Confluence pages. 

Source: Atlassian

External information is attached to the pages, such as PDFs, and then belongs to the page. The documents are versioned in the process. Document libraries with meta data and various functionalities, as in SharePoint, do not exist in Confluence. However, lists or tables can be created on the pages, on which data can be stored, sorted and filtered.

Atlassian writes: “Confluence was not designed to be a document management or file-sharing system for documents which are created offline. Instead, it focuses on features that improve the editing and sharing of online content created within the wiki itself while also including the ability to store and organize attached files with version history. Confluence provides direct integration with other document management systems: e.g. the SharePoint Connector for Confluence.”

The strengths of Confluence are the strong link with Jira and the versatile pages. Especially among software developers and in agile projects, the combination of Confluence and Jira is very popular and established. Requirements are often written in Confluence and then the associated tasks and epics are tracked in Jira on Kanban boards. A major limitation of Confluence is that it is currently only suitable for documenting knowledge and information.

SharePoint – The Versatile Project Management Tool

SharePoint almost doesn’t need to be explained anymore, as it has a much wider distribution than Confluence. The advantage of SharePoint is that it is heavily integrated with the Microsoft 365 world, such as with Teams, Office, Planner, etc. SharePoint has powerful document libraries and lists with sophisticated features. SharePoint also has Pages. However, their power and versatility is not as great and flexible as Confluence and they are more suitable for creating beautiful web pages rather than storing a lot of information and knowledge on them. In Classic SharePoint it was possible to create wiki pages, but in SharePoint Online this is no longer possible in this way, but only via the workaround via Pages – which is not ideal.

SharePoint Pages are more suitable to create nice web pages instead of storing a lot of information and knowledge on them.

Should I Use SharePoint or Confluence in Projects?

In many large companies, both worlds are in use: Confluence/Jira and SharePoint/Office 365. In the company where I currently work, SharePoint and Teams have only recently been introduced (almost unbelievable!) and Confluence/Jira has been in use for much longer. That means Confluence is established and SharePoint will have a rough start. Employees are used to working with Confluence and pages and therefore will not discover the advantages of SharePoint so quickly.

Does it make sense to use both systems in combination in projects? Or should one limit oneself to one system? The SharePoint homepage is the ideal start page for a project, whether a traditional or agile project, and can also be designed to be very attractive visually. From here, project team members can quickly access the information they need. Projects generate a lot of documents, own and e.g. from suppliers.
In the long-term program in my former company, we had several thousand documents. Here the document libraries of SharePoint were very helpful. SharePoint also has an excellent search engine, which finds the information you are looking for very quickly. SharePoint’s data lists are also very powerful and are indispensable for many purposes. Unfortunately, SharePoint can only create a simple Kanban board view from lists, and this is still far from the power of Jira. However, it is possible to use a more powerful Kanban board with swimlanes with (paid) apps from the SharePoint Store.

If you do a lot of agile software projects, then Confluence in combination with Jira can bring a relevant benefit, Jira as a task management tool with a Kanban board and Confluence for documenting the features or requirements, meeting minutes and other text-based information. As your project homepage, you can use SharePoint and additionally also as a powerful document management system and data management system in your project.

With Azure DevOps, however, Microsoft also introduced an entire collection of programs some time ago that supports the entire software development process. With Azure Boards included, Jira and to a great extend Confluence are actually redundant in a Microsoft 365 world. So, if your company relies on Microsoft technology and doesn’t yet use software from Atlassian, Azure Boards is probably a better solution for you. Of course, costs and the dependency on Microsoft are also points to consider when making your decision.

Here You Can Find More Knowledge

Would you like to learn more about how to make your projects more successful with SharePoint? Save time and money and get firsthand experience with my book SharePoint Online for Project Management. It takes you an important step further!

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SharePoint Online for Project Management
Posted in SharePoint.