by Matt Mullarkey-Toner
Published on 30 March 2016
Confluence is a collaboration tool to create knowledge bases, communicate with team members, and share information both within and outside your company. Confluence uses wiki tech alongside Atlassian products to create a solution that could be described as sort of like your company's version of Wikipedia. It's a great tool that's been well-received on GetApp (check out the 'user reviews' point below) and integrates with lots of different solutions.
However, it's always a good idea to take a look at the competition, so we've compiled a list of solutions that provide alternatives to Confluence. This isn't to knock Confluence (there isn't even a true Confluence competitor out there), but merely give you an idea of what's out there in terms of a Confluence alternative. Check out the list below:
Atlassian is straightforward about their pricing -a rarity in the world of on-premise solutions- and put all the info on their site. Their cloud pricing starts at $10 per month for up to 10 users, and moves up to a tiered pricing structure after that ($50 for 15 users, $100 for 25 users, etc.). Their on premise (hosted on your server) solution starts off at a one time price of $10 for 10 users with the proceeds going to charity.
Alternative: Igloo Software
Depending on your setup, Igloo Software can give you some serious bang for your buck. Igloo starts out free (and fully featured!) for up to the first 10 users. It also includes three "team spaces" and 10GB of storage. After that, they have different pricing plans based on your company's needs. If you're looking for a collaborative way to share information wiki-style with customers or visitors to your site, they offer an extranet package which starts at a monthly $3 per person. If you'd like to use the collaborative software internally, they offer their intranet plan which starts a monthly price of $12 per person.
Although Confluence works well for small businesses, there are some other options out there that might be a better fit for small businesses. For example, the collaboration app's vast capabilities (through customization or integrations) might be overwhelming for a new user which could lead to lost time and plenty of frustration.
Mindtouch is a great option for small businesses that like to remain flexible and be able to adjust on-the-fly, because you're not going to waste much time figuring out how to use it.
One reviewer writes that, "We used MindTouch to move our knowledge base from a RoboHelp version to MindTouch. The reason was simple, we wanted a better infra for our users and an easier format to edit changes. Our knowledge base is always in a flux and MindTouch's easy to use platform provided us with a simple and effective tool to update content quickly".
One of Confluence's strongest points is the number of programs it integrates with. Confluence, which is part of the greater Atlassian ecosystem , integrates with 20 percent of the most popular apps on GetApp. These apps include Evernote (1055 users) and Google Apps for Work (956). However, there's other options out there.
The popular communication and collaboration app provides a platform to exchange messages and information that's wrapped in a minimalistic and pleasing design. More importantly, Slack integrates with a whopping 65 percent of apps listed on GetApp. The diversity of apps it integrates with is also impressive: Asana, Wrike, and IFTTT. Tejaswi Raghurama, Growth Hacker at Pipemonk, writes about Slack, "The free integrations that it provides with the paid plan are super useful and helps us eliminate lot of switching back and forth between communication apps. My personal favourites are the Email, Twitter and /rssfeed integrations."
Confluence has a mobile app for iOS, but it doesn't have many (if any) reviews and the app carries a 2-star rating (based on 18 reviews that included previous versions). However, to be fair, Atlassian has clearly put more energy into focusing its efforts on making accessible through web browser on your mobile device à la responsive design.
I've written about Bitrix's mobile app before, but it delivers a solid mobile experience that is consistently updated. Admittedly, the mobile app has less features than its web counterpart, but it's getting progressively better.
One user on the Google Play store writes that Bitrix's on-the-go accessibility via their mobile app was tremendously helpful. He writes, "This is getting better all the time. Was good, now is great."
Confluence carries an overall rating on GetApp of 4.59/5 based on 22 user reviews. Reviewers love the customization that Confluence offers as well as the various products it integrates with.
However as Anna Murrill, business analyst at Esquire Deposition Services, points out, deployment of something as complex as Confluence can get tricky. She writes, "Deployment of this tool to a large user base would require some serious preparation to establish access schemes, permissions for user groups, best practices for editing and creating new content, and organizing content within the spaces. End user training is critical to cement those rules and establish a culture around using it effectively. I would not recommend deploying this tool in a slapdash hurry (Although, given its innate flexibility, it would be easier to correct it later with Confluence than some of its competitors!)."
Bitrix has an overall rating of 4.74/5 based on 35 reviews which is higher than the previously mentioned confluence (4.59). Chris Brooks, Founder at Performance Advantage Consulting, says that Bitrix is a valuable tool for small businesses.
Confluence works great with most business sizes, especially when it scales up to the large business or enterprise level. However as it's been noted earlier in this article, it can be tricky for small teams handling big operations. The transition process of growing from a small corner shop into an unstoppable global conglomerate might be difficult to due Confluence's granular configuration and slightly limited support.
Getting more people involved isn't a problem with Mindtouch, as the solution scales exceptionally well.
One reviewer writes, "We are currently implementing MindTouch and migrating our existing content. Our education team is currently responsible for content creation, but one of the reasons we chose MindTouch was to increase the number of contributors in our organization. This included our customers and our internal teams. We were trying to increase the number of collaborators, have a system that allows us to have governance and oversight as the number of contributors increases, and have a place to put both external and internal documentation with the use of permission controlled/gated content."
Since Confluence utilizes Wiki, it makes training employees slightly easier because the fast majority of the Internet has at least used Wikipedia at some point which helps with navigating it. However, things can start to get dicey once you get into customization or some backend work.
Chatter has more of a social network tool rather than a wiki, but that works its favor as its user-friendly style makes it less intimidating to new employees. More importantly, it's a Salesforce product which means that it works with some of the most popular business solutions out there; something else your employees are likely already familiar with. Aside from the knowledge base features, Chatter also has advanced table editing, custom layouts, and the option of on-premise or off-premise hosting.
Confluence shouldn't be too difficult to implement, whether the it's hosted in the cloud or on your own servers. Granted, things can get hairy if you are rapidly scaling up or if poor wiki practices (for an example of good wiki practices, check this out) become commonplace.
PCMag's Jill Duffy said that although it was light on some features, Igloo was an easy solution to deploy. She sums it up and writes, "Igloo is a pre-built company intranet that takes mere moments to set up and start using. If your business needs a central place online to communicate and (lightly) manage work, Igloo offers a very good service for a fair price."
Atlassian provides a whole heap of support articles for users to check out when they're stuck on something. The problem? Sometimes Atlassian can go a bit wild with their help articles. Look at this document for troubleshooting and technical support requests for Confluence. It certainly has info, but it's not pretty and could be intimidating to someone with limited technical experience. As with all Atlassian products, you're going to have to work hard and teach yourself to use some of their products.
Crowdbase, a smaller but rapidly-growing player in the SaaS space, is one of the "lighter" SaaS tools out there in that it's not trying to be a full-fledged business suite and instead has a hyper focus on collaboration. Although support is through email and ticketing, it has an active support team dedicated to helping and open to new suggestions.
A SaaS solution is only as good as its frequency of updates. Atlassian regularly updates its products, including Confluence, but there are other players in the game who also make sure their product regularly adds on new features, addresses user concerns, and perhaps most importantly, fixes bugs.
Igloo is regularly updated and gets new features added to it, but more importantly, it's updated and designed for newer users who might not have as much technical experience.
In Kaya Ismail's review for CMS critic, she said that although it's lacking in some administrative features, it's great for new users. She writes, "Unlike many other intranet solutions, Igloo is extremely quick and easy to set up. Plus, the average employee with limited tech skills will be able to learn the ropes pretty fast, and that's essential in my opinion. A company could quite easily sign up for Igloo on Monday, and have a fully organized and in-sync office by the end of the working week. Igloo is that simple."
What's your opinion on Confluence? Have you tried any of the alternatives we've listed? Let our users know what you think of it by leaving a review. Think we're totally wrong (or right!)? Let us know in the comments below. If you're looking to switch from Confluence to another collaboration solution or you want to try out a collaboration solution for the first time, check out what other users are saying in our reviews.