If your business is considering implementing a CMS intranet, then you are in great company. There is a growing number of businesses that have recognized the value of CMS intranets and the business solutions that they offer. There are a number of different solutions in the marketplace. Trying to find the best software for your organization can be an onerous job. In this article, we make that process easier for you by examining available CMS intranet solutions against the four key business drivers that will influence that choice. First though, let’s remind ourselves of what a CMS intranet is and the benefits that it offers your business.
What Is A CMS Intranet?
A content management system (CMS) is a system used to manage the content, data or information on a website. And an intranet in an internal website that is accessible to staff members only. It differs from your external website in that it will contain all the information and business tools that staff need to get the job done.
Benefits Of A CMS Intranet
A CMS intranet will add value to your business in a number of ways. The most important results though are as follows:
- Better internal communications – intranets can act as communication hubs for staff. Corporate information such as policies, manuals, company and staff news can be stored centrally and accessed at any time.
- Sharing of resources and best practice – a virtual workspace and community can be created to facilitate information storing, sharing and collaborative working. An intranet can also act as a training platform when providing online training content to staff.
- Improved customer service – better access to accurate and consistent information by your staff can lead to enhanced levels of customer service.
It’s important to remember though that this list is not exhaustive, and there will be a whole range of spin-off benefits from your CMS portal.
Now that we’ve reminded ourselves as to why CMS intranets are a good idea, let’s turn our attention to the CMS options that are available in the marketplace. And the short answer is that there are a great many of them!
Key Business Drivers
To help you narrow down the choice and focus on what’s important for your organization, let’s examine the available options in relation to the key business drivers influencing that decision.
Probably the most important driver when making a choice of CMS intranet solution is the available budget. Senior managers and shareholders will want to see a reasonable return on their investment.
Many companies will be enticed by the free offerings that are in the marketplace. CMS solutions such as Drupal and WordPress are indeed free to use. These solutions are free to download, however, they aren’t completely free of costs.
The costs come with the plugins and themes that are additional to the core offering. Some plugins are also free, but it’s fair to say that the more sophisticated and advanced versions of plugins, with the functionality that businesses really need come at a cost.
The huge number of plugins (WordPress has 40,000 alone) will mean that some organizations end up spending additional money on consultants to assist them with the identification and implementation of them.
Even with a free to download CMS, there is still the cost of a server to be factored into the budget along with ongoing management, maintenance, and security costs.
And what about ongoing support? While it is true that there is a whole community of WordPress or Drupal devotees and experts online, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be someone available to resolve your particular issue when you need it.
Therefore, when making your CMS intranet choice from a budgetary perspective, the ongoing costs, as well as those associated with the installation and setup need to all be considered carefully.
2. Ease Of Use
The next key driver is that the CMS intranet must be easy to use. The choice should be user-friendly for the end users – your staff members – otherwise the intranet will simply be a lame duck.
Options such as Microsoft’s SharePoint might appear to fit the bill, it’s free to download and neatly integrates Office. One benefit would be that it has that that familiar Microsoft look and feel.
However, non-technical users have reported finding Sharepoint very difficult to use. Indeed there is a level of technical knowledge required in order to get the most out of it.
The best way to determine the suitability in terms of ease of use is to pilot or test drive the software in advance. With options such as SharePoint and WordPress, however, there isn’t any real opportunity to do so.
3. Easy To Manage
One of the key aspects to consider is how easy to use and manage the CMS intranet on an ongoing will it be. This is allied closely with keeping your implementation and training costs to a minimum.
Remember that in most case the free CMS software will on a regular basis still need to be updated. This will also include updating plugins to the current versions. Staying on top of all of this will become your responsibility.
Even just to editing pages can require a level of technical knowledge that makes these types of solutions almost impossible for the average business user to manage. Editing pages, setting permissions, adding and editing user should be a straightforward process without the need to write code.
So if you have a dedicated IT resource, then it may well be a suitable candidate. However, if you are a small to medium sized business without the specialized expertise required, then beware of investing in this as an option. It may not be a viable solution in the long term. The costs to the organization of replacing expert technical knowledge or in terms of ongoing training of staff to get the most out of the CMS intranet will add additional unforeseen costs to the intranet budget.
4. Safe And Secure
A key priority for businesses will be that their confidential and sensitive corporate information is as safe and secure as it can be. The possibility of confidential customer or client data being hacked and falling into the wrong hands with the consequent damage to your brand and reputation is almost too catastrophic to consider.
With options such as Drupal and SharePoint, the responsibility for securing the data lies with you. And the modular and highly open customizable nature of these CMS software packages makes it very difficult to secure. In fact, you will have to ensure that all the different modules are individually secure. So we’re talking about having adequate, up-to-date firewalls and virus protection that will cover all the components and plugins of your intranet.
In addition, all the data contained in SharePoint or Drupal is stored in an underlying database, and so you will also need to ensure that this area is secure.
And we haven’t even started yet on encryption! Encryption is the process of converting data to an unrecognizable or “encrypted” form and will be a must for any CMS intranet solution. The standard encryption security technology used by millions of companies around the world is Secure Socket Layer or (SSL), and this will be the minimum requirement for your CMS intranet.
Issues around safety and security don’t just end with external threats though. Just as important is the internal threat posed by site and access permissions that are set too loosely. This means that some staff can access information that they shouldn’t be able to because it is not relevant to their work or even sometimes because they no longer work for the company. Being able to set and quickly and easily change appropriate site permissions is fundamental to the overall security of your CMS intranet. Some of the downloadable CMS software options do not always have a straightforward process for assigning and changing access and reviewing rights to staff members. The result is that often it becomes a ‘too hard’ task that you never get round to and so potentially could be a security risk for your intranet.
Cloud Hosted CMS Intranet Solution
There is another option that you may have not yet considered: the cloud hosted CMS intranet. Now let’s examine this option against the four key drivers and see how it compares.
Some cloud hosted CMS intranet options come with an unlimited number of users for a flat monthly fee. There are no hidden costs – you will know exactly what you will be spending on the CMS intranet every month, bringing that all-important cost certainty to your intranet project.
Hosting companies offer ongoing support as well, if you encounter any issues then they will be on hand to quickly resolve them minimising downtime and business disruption. This can represent a significant saving.
Because the CMS intranet is hosted online, staff can access information remotely at any time and so there are efficiencies to be made in allowing staff to work flexibly and remotely. Indeed, with the trend towards more flexible arrangements and remote working, having a mobile friendly and accessible intranet is now pretty much a necessity.
Furthermore, with an external hosting option, there will be no ongoing management and maintenance costs associated with company servers. Backups and updates can be left as a responsibility of the intranet hosting company removing another headache.
2. Ease Of Use
With a cloud-based option using a basic step-by-step process, you simply log on and create the pages and content. No technical expertise is required. This ease of use means that your organization will save time and money as the set-up process is simple and user-friendly.
The cloud CMS is also almost intuitive to use and has an advanced search functionality so that staff members can quickly and easily locate the information they require.
With the cloud CMS, you also have the option to test drive the product in advance. Most providers will happily demonstrate their intranet’s capabilities through a screen share tour or even with a free trial. There is no substitute for actually playing around with the software to determine whether it is the correct fit for your business and so this represents a great bonus.
3. Easy To Manage
Most cloud CMS intranet solutions come with straightforward out-of-the-box tools to easily manage your users.
There are bulk user management tools that enable you to add, delete or disable users in just a few easy steps. There’s no need for a memo to the IT department to set up or delete a user on the system as you’ll have the benefit of being able to do it yourself.
Likewise, setting permissions, adding new pages, editing existing content are simple processes.
And so, as you can see, you have nothing to fear if Johnny in IT resigns tomorrow!
4. Safe And Secure
One of the great advantages of a cloud CMS intranet is that the host company is responsible for all aspects of online security. All the associated headaches of ensuring your CMS intranet is using the latest security technology is, therefore, transferred to the hosting company.
Indeed with a cloud option important and sensitive company data remains as secure as possible. It is hosted in a private cloud with the content delivered securely via SSL and the web browser. What’s more, the cloud’s security features regularly undergo independent audits to ensure the security and confidentiality of your data.
Moreover, the cloud intranet provider will have a level of expertise that is unlikely to be matched in any corporate setting. It is in their interests – indeed, their reputation and brand depend on their ability to deliver in terms of security.
The cloud CMS, therefore, comes with a guarantee that your sensitive and confidential company data meets all the most current best practice safeguards.
Make The Right Choice!
Making the choice of which CMS intranet portal to go with may not now be as difficult as you first thought. With all the considerable advantages of cloud CMS intranet solutions, making the business case to go ahead is an easy sell! Increased productivity and efficiency + cost effectiveness = the right choice.
Contact the team at MyHub for more information on what a difference a cloud CMS intranet can make to your business.