OnBase or SharePoint: Finding Your Fit


OIT supports two enterprise content management platforms for use by Princeton campus departments:

While these platforms share some common functionality, when it comes to a question of fitness as a departmental solution, one service may provide significant benefits over the other.  It all depends on the business processes involved.  The chart below compares and contrasts the business process characteristics that are best served by each product.   Examine your document management needs using these "lenses" as means of finding your best fit. 


Questions?  Use the Get Help form on the Princeton Service Portal to open an inquiry with OIT document management service owners.


SharePoint logo

Onbase logo


Personal/Department Productivity

Operational/Organizational Efficiency

Unstructured, User-Driven Activity

Structured, Process-Driven Activity

Manage Individual Documents

Manage Collections of Documents

Task Management Workflow

Complex, Multi-level Workflow

People-Centric Workflow (Ad-Hoc)

Integration with University Systems

One-off, Project-based Processes

Repetitive, Transactional Processes



Departmental Business Content

Business Process Content

Unstructured Documents, Manually Organized

Structured Documents, Automatically Organized

Simple Sets of Primary Documents

Complex Sets of Transaction or Process Supporting Documents

Intended for Wide Audience Use

Intended for Controlled Audience Use

MS Office Document Creation (Optimization)

Document Imaging (Scan, Sweep, DIP, etc.)


Various Sources of Origination & Integration

Documentation of Business Knowledge

Support of Transaction Process Data



Information Sharing

Information Governance

Content Publishing

Content Capture

Free-form Content (Web Pages, Blogs, Wikis, RSS)

Managed Content (Business Records)



User-driven Retention

Automated, Policy-based Retention

Multiple Sites & Document Libraries

Enforced Categorization of Documents

Broad Search (Research)

Targeted, Full Text Search (Process Accuracy)

Decentralized Control (Departments)

Centralized Control (OIT Managed Access)

Portal Platform

Content-enabled Vertical Applications

Department/Project-based Repository

Repository of Record




Personal/Departmental Productivity

Operational/Organizational Efficiency

  • Unstructured, User-Driven Activity
  • Manage Individual Documents
  • Task Management Workflow
  • People-Centric Workflow (Ad-Hoc)
  • One-off, Project-based Processes


SharePoint users tend to be subject matter experts who collaboratively create content and share it via internal & external web sites using familiar office applications.  These collaborations are often specific to the needs of each business function they accomplish.  The collaborations are not necessarily transactional nor are they repeated in scale by the worker or within the organization.


SharePoint is best used for workflows defined by users that are ideally suited for storing and routing individual documents for the purposes of supporting unique projects on a case-by-case basis.  SharePoint does not provide a state-based "workflow" interface.  Rather, SharePoint, as part of the Microsoft Office suite, is natively integrated with desktop applications, such as Word, Excel, Outlook, InfoPath, etc. and uses these user-familiar interfaces to present and manage task-based workflow interactions.

  • Structured, Process-Driven Activity
  • Manage Collections of Documents
  • Complex, Multi-level Workflow
  • Integration with University Systems
  • Repetitive, Transactional Processes


OnBase users leverage structured document repositories to accomplish system-of-record document storage.


OnBase workflows are ideally suited for managing multiple related documents in sync with corresponding transactional data.  Integration with University systems allows for data flow and document display between applications, streamlining a user's work with a data system-of-record and all related documents in OnBase.  Workflows are designed to automate or optimize repeatable, rules-driven processes.  Complex processes that require documents to be routed through multiple lifecycles at the same time can also be accomplished.  OnBase provides full state-based workflow interfaces to allow users to efficiently process high-volumes of documents in a consistent manner. 


OnBase empowers users to make informed and independent decisions within the context of structured, document-driven processes.  OnBase delivers relevant documentation to the user at the appropriate step in the process through their preferred application interface. 


Instances: Student Files, Financial Aid Counselor Review Process, PO Invoice Processing, etc.  



Departmental Business Content

Business Process Content

  • Unstructured Documents, Manually Organized
  • Simple Sets of Primary Documents
  • Intended for Wide Audience Use
  • MS Office Document Creation (Optimization)
  • People-Created
  • Documentation of Business Knowledge


SharePoint sites support employee collaboration and decision making.  Business content stored in SharePoint is created electronically and predominately originates inside the organization. It helps employees address day-to-day tasks, make better decisions, capture information and improve their overall knowledge.  While there are some structured processes driven by business content, most involve communications or collaborative activities like managing IT projects or using wikis to support project collaboration. 


SharePoint manages relatively low volumes of content intended to be made accessible to broad audiences via intranets, extranets and websites.


SharePoint is seeking to provide users with a portal platform that provides a consistent user experience to access both personal productivity tools and enterprise process improvement applications. 

  • Structured Documents, Automatically Organized
  • Complex Sets of Transaction or Process Supporting Documents
  • Intended for Controlled Audience Use
  • Document Imaging (Scan, Sweep, DIP, etc.)
  • Various Sources of Origination/ Integration
  • Support of Transaction Process Data


OnBase stores documents necessary for reference and department retention that are not housed through a primary data system of record (e.g. Blackboard or Novatus). Business content stored in OnBase can also originate outside Princeton and then drive an internal process. OnBase can align this content with human-centric business processes using structured workflow and is able to manage high volumes of content that is processed by relatively limited audiences.  Examples of business processes include invoice processing, student file creation, and the financial aid application processing.


OnBase is designed to provide high-volume imaging and indexing to serve as the repository of record for document-driven processes in sync with data from core transaction data systems (e.g. ERP, CRM, etc.). The ability to integrate OnBase with other business systems also allows for integration links to view organized documents from different sources.



Information Sharing

Information Governance

  • Content Publishing
  • Free-form Content (Web Pages, Blogs, Wikis, RSS)
  • Collaborative
  • User-driven Retention
  • Multiple Sites & Document Libraries
  • Broad Search (Research)
  • Decentralized Control (Departments)
  • Portal Platform
  • Department/Project-based Repository


Princeton positions the SharePoint platform to enable users to collaborate and share information across organizational and geographic boundaries.  SharePoint is a platform for collaboratively creating, publishing and communicating business content via web sites and portals.


SharePoint makes it easier to locate knowledge contained in business content across multiple information sources.


Retention of documents and content stored within SharePoint is user-drive and requires user interaction to meet University policies.


Users utilize research searching as a part of their daily requirements to locate information.  SharePoint is ideal for case-by-case searches for research purposes across multiple data stores.  The results are free form and derived from the content of stored documents.  A valued results list will contain any document related to the search criteria and sorted with the most appropriate candidate first in the list. 


SharePoint provides users with a template-driven solution to generate and administer their own web sites for both team collaboration and personal organization.



  • Content Capture
  • Managed Content (Business Records)
  • Controlled
  • Automated, Policy-based Retention
  • Enforced Categorization of documents
  • Targeted Full Text Search (Process Accuracy)
  • Centralized Control
  • Content-enabled Vertical Applications
  • Repository of Record


OnBase provides tools to create centrally managed document repositories and workflows that offer departments the ability to operate document-driven business processes meeting University need.  These solutions can provide the appropriate levels of audit information to guarantee that business processes involving records are followed accurately. 


OnBase makes it easier to determine who, how and when information is used as part of the course of business.  Retention schedules can be configured for documents and content stored within OnBase to flag and purge items automatically in line with University policies.   


OnBase is ideal for searches related to a specified set of document types that have identified data values within OnBase.  Full text search is available to further narrow the search to content found within the image of a stored document. 


OnBase solutions serve as content-enabled, line-of-business applications for document-driven business processes such as invoice processing or financial aid applications or for departments that need structured storage, organization and access related to their business processes.


OIT provides managed administration of the enterprise OnBase implementation that offers centralized controls and lifecycle management of all content stored within OnBase.