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CMS intranet explained: Examples and use cases

By Faye Wai

15 min read

CMS intranet explained: Examples and use cases

A CMS intranet is a unified platform designed to streamline your internal and external communications. But is a CMS intranet the right solution for your organization? This article will guide you through key considerations to help you decide, ensuring your communication strategy scales as effectively as your business.

What is a CMS intranet?

A CMS intranet is a content management system within an intranet. 

Intranets are company networks that house all the files, apps, and content employees need to enable their work. 

Content Management Systems are website software applications that allow companies to create and publish content to the internet without requiring advanced coding skills. 

When a CMS is contained within a company intranet, it’s known as a CMS intranet. It performs like a website but has the distinction of being an internal tool companies use to connect their people to all aspects of the employee experience, from benefits and HR forms to company news, shared workspaces, training, and other work-related content.

For management and leaders, the CMS intranet provides data they can use to monitor projects, workflows, employee requests, expenses, and so on. Used to its best advantage, a CMS intranet enables almost every internal process, connecting remote teams and providing a consistent user experience for all. 

Are intranets the same as a CMS?

Intranets are not the same as a CMS. However, an intranet can contain a CMS. 

A CMS allows users to manage web content and enables multiple users and content creators to work from the same platform, often with their own unique permissions. WordPress is an example of a popular CMS, but there are many. Some companies may instead choose to create a custom CMS to gain more control over CMS features, design, and functionality. 

Though a CMS allows users to manage their web content, they lack the ability to connect users and easily share information—a staple of intranets.

On the other hand, Jostle is an employee success platform where employees can connect, share, and manage important files and documents. Jostle offers all the features of an intranet combined with a powerful CMS. We can say, then, that a CMS intranet is an employee success platform. 

How a CMS intranet works

Now that we understand the definition of a CMS intranet, let’s find out how it works.

A CMS intranet allows employees to easily share content within their internal network. They provide the benefits of a knowledge base with the collaborative features of an intranet. 

Features common to all CMS intranets include:

Document management

Though the CMS intranet has the appearance of a website, it can also centrally store and manage documents with a high degree of security and role-based access. Cloud-based file systems are keyword searchable and, when managed well, can be highly organized and efficient, streamlining collaboration across distributed teams.

To ensure the best possible CMS intranet user experience, companies must implement consistent naming conventions, permissions, and security features. Consistent document management is essential to ensure the system is not bogged down with outdated files and data.

Task management

Collaboration, team projects, shared calendars, and workflow management are some tasks the CMS intranet is capable of. Some task management features may be built into the system, while others may rely on integrations to support project management workflows. 

In Jostle, tasks can be managed and tracked from a central dashboard, allowing teams to track progress without needing additional tools. Teams can communicate with each other directly, pull people into the conversation when required, assign tasks, share files, and track a project to completion using a timeline. 

Employee directory

CMS intranets help to connect employees with colleagues throughout the company ecosystem. The employee directory enables fast employee location by role, department, or location and can help to connect personnel even when the person’s name is unknown. The employee directory feature in Jostle is highly visual and contains detailed profiles of everyone, helping people learn about other colleagues and connect with the expertise they need to move projects forward. 

Chat

The CMS intranet functions like an internal social network, enabling messaging between employees either on the company’s public feed or privately. Discussions can be created for projects, teams, or departments, keeping everyone connected without having to exit the system. 

News feeds

News feeds help companies push out important information, content, and announcements with a targeted approach. For example, an announcement can be sent only to specific departments, locations, teams, individuals, or the whole company. This level of personalization and segmentation reduces feed clutter and ensures every message is relevant to those who see it. 

Leaders can also track who’s seen and read posts and apply a sign-off feature to ensure the message is received. Personalized news feeds reduce content fatigue and improve engagement, keeping everyone connected to what matters. 

Integration with other platforms

Using a CMS intranet, employees can work on documents together and publish content for the entire company to see. Jostle integrates with popular productivity suites like Office 365, Google Workspace, Slack, Bonusly, and hundreds more. Specialized HR, business intelligence, marketing, workflow automation, and accounting apps become part of the company ecosystem within the CMS intranet, supercharging the system with rich data and powerful capabilities that can be tailored to precise business needs. 

Why do companies use CMS intranets? 

Every company is unique, each with its own strengths and challenges. A CMS intranet can solve many pain points, connecting people with the content and technology they need to thrive. 

Today’s strong emphasis on remote work and distributed teams is an excellent rationale for implementing a CMS intranet, as it provides a central hub for everything the company is and does. Without the benefit of a CMS intranet, remote teams would be challenged to communicate and collaborate efficiently, and productivity would almost certainly suffer. 

Here are some typical use cases for CMS intranets. 

  • Onboarding

The onboarding process is easily one of the most critical to a positive employee experience. CMS intranets support HR by providing a portal where new hires can access forms and documents, sign off on job descriptions and contracts, and obtain the information they need to learn more about the company and career path options. The smoother the onboarding experience, the more favorable the employee will feel about the company overall. Happy employees are more likely to stay in their jobs and provide long-term value for the company. 

  • Training and career development

CMS intranets can offer much in the way of training and development. From ongoing micro-learning modules to self-enrolling in training and development opportunities, it’s a way to keep employees engaged and able to envision their future at the company. CMS intranets can house these features and encourage employees to engage with them. 87% of millennial employees report that development opportunities are important to them. CMS intranets can support learning management systems, empowering your people to step into their potential. 

  • Collaboration in one place

CMS intranets consolidate all collaboration and communication tools into a single interface, so employees don’t have to deal with the frustration of switching between platforms to get things done. Workflow optimization is essential to productivity, and this is a simple way to reduce friction and keep people engaged with their tasks. 

Jostle’s Discussion module allows teams to connect, keep projects on track, and ensure everyone is aligned to a common purpose.

  • Employee engagement

Engagement is essential to productivity. Productivity is critical to profitability. Therefore, we can conclude that engagement is a key driver of a company’s financial success. CMS intranets keep employees engaged by streamlining workflows and simplifying tasks that need to be done. The more effort a company puts into making their employee’s jobs easier, the happier they will be, and the more they will appreciate your effort to support them. 

Benefits of a CMS intranet

CMS intranets can do many different things depending on the needs and goals of the organization. At a high level, they help in the following three ways:

#1. Improves employee engagement. One of the key benefits of a CMS intranet is its ability to streamline and simplify content creation and management. With a user-friendly interface and intuitive tools, employees can easily create, edit, and publish content, allowing them to contribute to the overall knowledge sharing within the organization.

#2. Boosts overall employee experience. Their integration with existing tools and systems means that employees can quickly share information across platforms without the annoyance of jumping to a different website or app. The elimination of multiple logins and reduction of time spent navigating between different platforms leads to a nice bump in productivity.

#3. Creates a space for celebration. Having your employees all on one platform provides a way to recognize and appreciate employees for their work and contributions. CMS intranets enable colleagues to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s achievements through features such as employee polls, likes, comments, and sharing capabilities. This not only boosts morale and motivation but also strengthens the sense of community and camaraderie within the organization.

Bring your people together

Considerations when choosing a CMS intranet or similar platform

When selecting a CMS intranet for your organization, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. In this section, we’ll explore these topics to help you make an informed decision.

1. Build or buy a CMS intranet 

Most CMS employee intranets won’t have all your ideal features out of the box. But that doesn’t mean you should build your own. 

Larger corporations may be tempted to build their own intranet from CMS platforms like WordPress or Drupal. Some may even create one from a SharePoint intranet due to its high degree of customization. Not only is such a project challenging to scope, but it can typically take months to build. 

Fortunately, small to medium businesses without the budget and resources to maintain a company platform still have some configurable options. Let’s look at some high-level feature considerations if you’re shopping for a CMS intranet. 

2. Allows integration with existing tools and systems 

Say you want to promote timely initiatives or campaigns relevant to your employees and organizational culture. If your intranet doesn’t support a company calendar, you may find yourself layering on tool after tool to communicate these events. This gets confusing as there’s no longer one source of truth, adding to the confusion and the need for context switching. 

Intranets market themselves as the heart of your digital workplace—your solution should be a hub where most activities and information can be found. Whatever platform you choose, ensure it supports any employee data, CRM, or project management integrations your people need. 

3. Offers ease of use for optimal user adoption

Ideally, an intuitive platform is where employees start and end their workdays. It’s supposed to be a helpful tool, and your people should enjoy using it. 

Any CMS intranet software should have a simple user interface that’s easy to navigate and self-learn. Unfortunately, most intranets take too long to onboard. So, make sure the solution is as frictionless as possible. Your employees shouldn’t have to invest three months getting up to speed. 

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4. Supports and organizes content in a way that makes sense

A content management system must support the types of media and content your employees use daily. Do they feature a publishing tool that makes sense for content creators? Perhaps you want a drag-and-drop editor or platform that supports rich video storage. If you’re asynchronous or remote, you may need to ensure your file library supports document versioning

One thing for sure is that most intranets are internal websites in disguise. This seems sensible until it becomes tough for people to locate documents, as they aren’t purposely designed to support file storage. Beware of CMS intranets with page-based architecture (which, unfortunately, will be in most cases). These static sites frustrate employees as scrawling pages are often inevitable, making nothing accessible. 

5. Enables people to find people and information they need 

Any employee platform should allow for a robust and comprehensive search function. As your organization grows, so will the amount of information your employees need to navigate. You don’t want them spending hours locating the correct file because it’s frustrating and disrupts focus.

You want to help your employees save time and boost productivity, not increase frustration.  Unfortunately, it’s typically at this point that intranets will clutter—and eventually break.  

On the employee onboarding front, it’s not just about absorbing data and information; it’s also about meeting people and forming connections. Consider solutions with a built-in employee directory and organizational chart to help coworkers connect and collaborate. 

6. Provides security and permission controls

Chances are, your IT department will be very invested in comprehensive security and privacy protocols concerning backups, data centers, and governance. 

When choosing the best intranet, protecting your employee and customer data should be top of mind. Features like Single Sign-On (SSO) can allow your platform’s information to be protected. The last thing you need is a data breach or hacker breathing down your neck. 

7. Engage employees in the way they should 

Many intranets say they focus on engagement and showing your company values in action. If you’re in a remote team, you’re probably betting on a CMS intranet to act as a digital workplace for people to gather online daily. 

You may want to reconsider whether an intranet may support your employee engagement efforts. Intranets that act as social networks are notorious for drowning employees in distracting, spammy notifications.

Instead, you may need a platform that makes it possible to communicate news at the organizational level or have discussions as teams or individuals—but more on that next.

8. Facilitates two-way communication 

To prevent organizational silos, leaders are increasingly investing in platforms that support two-way communication. Intranets say they’re the one-stop-shop of org-wide communication, but most only support top-down announcements. You may need to layer on Slack or instant messaging to enable peer-to-peer interaction. 

Consider your internal communication needs. Does the solution facilitate your employees’ preferred mode of interacting? For example, if you’re trying to eliminate the use of emails, you may opt for a group discussion function on your centralized employee platform.

9. Allows employees to have a voice 

Intranets are mainly used to store enterprise policy documents. Only occasionally will employees see management updates broadcast here and there. But nowadays, peer-to-peer communication channels are non-negotiable, especially when working remotely. 

Employee polls and employee-generated content are great for collecting feedback and strengthening connections. Most importantly, these functions allow people to feel like they’re contributing and participating in the broader organizational culture. Consider features that encourage people to interact with each other on the platform, like group discussions to support employee resource groups. Or others can like, comment, and share interesting content.

10. Offers custom branding to suit your company’s aesthetic 

Your intranet should align with your brand’s visual design as the centralized hub for your employee activity. At the minimum, implement your business logos, colors, and fonts for cohesiveness. You don’t want the digital representation of your office to be uninspiring, unreflective, and boring. 

11. Provides a way to recognize people for their work and contributions 

Everyone likes to be acknowledged after a hard day at work. But it’s not just a leader that can give a “job well done.”  

Most intranet CMS solutions lack recognition features that tie in and celebrate organizational values. 

The truth is that only a handful of platforms make it easy for employees to recognize each other’s achievements and share them across the business. Whether through a simple shout-out or an official article highlighting quarterly wins, those shared highlights and celebrations contribute to a culture of success across the company. 

12. A decent mobile app 

People want a way to keep their fingers on the company’s pulse whether they’re on the go or stuck in a long commute. 

Unfortunately, some intranet apps are still not mobile-friendly, as it’s nearly impossible to navigate thousands of pages on the go. This may create information gaps within your company, especially for deskless workers out in the field. 

13. Doesn’t require maintenance and upkeep 

Most customized or bespoke intranets require time-consuming maintenance sprints due to platform intricacies. Keeping them up-to-date with the latest technological advances often requires a dedicated team or a complete system overhaul, which may be incredibly costly. 

Unless you’ve got a big budget or a dedicated team of developers, consider other purpose-built platforms that regularly push updates and new features to all their customers as part of a subscription package. 

14. Access to support and coaching 

The last thing you want is to get lost on a new platform without dedicated support to point the way. 

Where most intranets feel like a maze, some products have an assigned Customer Success Manager to guide you and help you reach your goals. Make sure this support is included for free; if not, costs may add up quickly. 

Final Thoughts

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about CMS intranets and discovering the many ways they benefit employees and the company. In the ongoing effort to support and enable employee success, CMS intranets are an indispensable tool with the potential to transform the workforce from the inside out. 

CMS intranets are so much more than the sum of their parts. From onboarding and training to improving internal communication, consolidating data, and streamlining workflows, the value of CMS intranets resonates throughout the organization. 

Request your demo today to experience how Jostle helps you do all this—and more. 

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