Comparing Dropbox and SharePoint for the construction industry, both platforms offer cost-effective file sharing solutions that are widely used across various industries. Builders often rely on these platforms to share important documents with subcontractors, suppliers, and consultants, including building plans, site specifications, and supporting documentation. When considering which software to use and ensuring its safety, it’s crucial to evaluate their specific features and advantages.

In my experience working with a commercial construction company, they had been using Dropbox for a considerable period. Initially, they used a server and construction software to share files. However, due to the discontinuation of the software and connection issues with the server, they found Dropbox to be more convenient and faster for file sharing.

Over time, their Dropbox storage grew significantly, rivalling the server in terms of storage size and usage. To ensure their Dropbox data was also backed up on the server, they resorted to manually copying files, which would take an employee 3 days to complete. Unfortunately, this manual backup process eventually fell by the wayside and stopped occurring months ago.

Upon examining the situation, I discovered that the company was exposed from a disaster recovery perspective. Recovering all the important files from Dropbox would have been a lengthy and arduous task. Although Dropbox offers version control for file recovery, if they were hit by ransomware and their cloud-based files were overwritten, they would face significant trouble because they weren’t included in the Dropbox backup plan.

Considering the circumstances, I made two recommendations. If the company was content with using a file sharing platform, I advised them to transition to SharePoint for the following reasons:

Cost savings: Many businesses already pay for Microsoft 365 licenses, which include SharePoint. It makes financial sense to stop paying for Dropbox and utilize the SharePoint benefits already available.

Backup control: SharePoint can be backed up more easily using third-party products that IT can control. Dropbox is limited to a handful of their own products and their “rewind” feature. It is generally recommended to have IT manage the backup of a platform, as relying on the same company for backups may result in reduced visibility and longer restore times.

Advanced sharing capabilities: SharePoint allows for complex sharing arrangements, similar to Dropbox, while providing additional features.

Integration with Microsoft apps: SharePoint integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft applications such as Word and Outlook, facilitating a more cohesive workflow.

Security: Dropbox has faced multiple security incidents, including a significant breach a few years ago where 68 million credentials were leaked online. Although they have since improved their security posture and likely learned from those breaches, the occurrence of multiple security breaches over the last 15 years does impact their reputation.

While SharePoint is a strong recommendation, the second option could be utilising the file sharing capabilities of BuilderTrend or Procore instead of Dropbox or SharePoint. Considering the company was already considering a shift to one of these project management platforms, it would be worthwhile to evaluate their file storage and sharing capabilities. Both platforms offer robust file sharing functionality, although their approaches differ. It is advisable to engage with their respective sales teams to ensure the chosen platform aligns well with the company’s business requirements.

Ultimately, the choice between platforms depends on the specific circumstances of each business. However, based on my experience, I most often recommend SharePoint or utilising the file sharing features within project management software platforms like BuilderTrend or Procore. It is essential to consult with your IT professional, who possesses intimate knowledge of your current IT infrastructure and can provide insights on how these platforms will fit into your future file sharing plans.

Additionally, it is crucial to consider the behavioural changes that may be required when transitioning to a new file sharing platform. Many employees may be accustomed to the old method and reluctant to embrace change. To ensure a smooth transition, it is critical to communicate the upcoming changes well in advance and explain the reasons behind them. Train employees on the new platform after its implementation, either through your IT team or with the assistance of the software vendor. This approach will help ensure a successful project and enable everyone to leverage the new technology promptly, maximizing productivity gains.