One CMS for intranet and website?

One CMS for intranet and website?

Should you pick a single CMS for both your intranet and website, or should you keep the two separate and select two different platforms? It’s a timeless and legitimate question with no obvious wrong or right answer.

At first glance, using a single CMS is an appealing way to consolidate, control costs and re-use investments. In practice, more analysis is required to decide if this is indeed the best option.

Compare your requirements

It is sometimes possible to implement a single CMS for both the internal and external worlds, but in most cases the requirements are quite different and there is no single product that can match them sufficiently. Another element to consider is company size. In a small company, consolidating around one tool often makes sense, but the larger the enterprise, the greater the case for different solutions.

To find out what is best for you, you can use an evaluation methodology that consists of comparing requirements for the website and the intranet in a number of functional areas that are important to your organization. This methodology is illustrated in the figure below (with fictitious data, for illustration purposes only):

One CMS for website and intranet?Level of complexity of functional requirements for website and intranet

The graph shows:

  • On the horizontal axis: The most important areas of functional requirements. The graph above illustrates six commonly found areas, but in a realistic case you will identify 10 to 15 different domains.
  • On the vertical axis: The level of complexity that is required for each of these functional areas, for the website (illustrated in red) and for the intranet (illustrated in blue). Complexity is ranked on a scale from 1 (simple) to 5 (complex). ‘Simple’ means that only the basic level of functionality is required for this area. ‘Complex’ means that the requirements are sophisticated and feature-rich.

Interpretation of the graph: If the two lines (the blue intranet line and the red website line) are generally close together or overlap, then requirements are similar in nature and a single CMS can be envisaged. If the two lines are far apart for most of the requirements, as is the case in this fictitious example, then this is a strong indicator that a single CMS product is unlikely to be a good fit.

Example: content creation and editing

This is a typical example of a functional area where requirements are often very different between the intranet and the website, especially in large, complex organizations. The table below illustrates how requirements can differ in terms of number of users, required user interface and the use of templates:

Intranet Website
  • Many content contributors, spread across the entire organization
  • Limited number of contributors, typically in only a few departments
  • Basic users, requiring a very simple user interface
  • Sophisticated, web-savvy users
  • Rigid templates, to ensure consistency and avoid errors
  • Flexibility to fine-tune the website

Source: Guy van Leemput, J.Boye Blog

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