9 min read
CMS intranets claim they make it easier to manage digital content across any organization. Here’s how you might approach shopping for one.
As an organization grows, there are increasingly more things to manage. You typically implement more processes and distribute more content when you have a growing amount of employees and customers to take care of.
Cue the search for a CMS intranet (or so you may think).
Companies need a way to manage and share all of their communication with both internal and external parties. Instead of using a combination of different platforms to get the job done, there are ways to move towards a single unified platform for your content management needs.
This article walks you through a few considerations to determine if a intranet content management system intranet is right for your needs.
Let’s break the term into its two parts: “content management system” and “intranet”.
A content management system (or CMS) typically refers to a software application where users can create, edit, collaborate, store, publish and manage digital content.
A modern intranet platform is a private network within an organization used to securely share company information and resources among employees.
Therefore, a CMS-enabled intranet is designed to allow employees to create and publish content. Though they support document management, they typically lack social tools and collaborative features where team members can interact with or recognize each other.
Intranets that don’t feature an embedded CMS are even more rigid, as users can’t edit content freely without training and authorization. The networks are usually complicated and must be maintained by dedicated IT professionals.
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 such as 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, they 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.
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’ll 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 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, make sure it supports any employee data, CRM, or project management integrations your people need.
Ideally, an intuitive platform is the place where your 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.
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 incredibly hard 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 most cases). These static sites frustrate employees as scrawling pages are often inevitable, making nothing accessible.
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.
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.
Many intranets say they’re focused 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 every day.
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—more on that up next.
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.
Intranets are mainly used for storing enterprise policy documents. Only occasionally will employees see management updates broadcasted 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, the capability for others to like, comment, and share interesting content.
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.
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, there are only a handful of platforms that 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 to highlight quarterly wins, those shared highlights and celebrations contribute to a culture of success across the company.
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 near 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.
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.
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 come with 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.
Perhaps you’re searching for a CMS intranet that supports collaboration and communication all around. Or you know your people require a file repository that actually organizes things instead of just adding to the chaos.
At the end of the day, if you’re searching for an employee platform that will help your people succeed and your culture thrive, then there are other alternatives. Ones that are designed with engagement, enablement, and celebration in mind and that will grow with your organization’s success.
Jostle’s employee success platform is where everyone connects, communicates, and celebrates at work. Find out more at jostle.me. © 2009–2023 Jostle Corporation. All rights reserved.