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What Is a Content Management System (CMS) Intranet?

See how a CMS intranet can be used to organize digital content and streamline internal communications.

man using CMS intranet in office

How much time do you spend rifling through filing cabinets at work? Well, thirty years ago, that would have been a pretty common task for almost anyone who worked an office job.

But in the modern world, most organizational documents aren’t stored in physical filing cabinets anymore—they’re stored digitally.

Almost all of these documents live digitally within company software, from standard operating procedures to employee benefits plans and company directories.

So, how exactly do companies create and manage all of their content? One modern solution is a CMS intranet.

While many organizations will use various tools and platforms to manage their content, companies can use a CMS intranet—or content management system intranet–to unify their entire content management into one place.

An intranet content management system can improve team communication, optimize operations, and even help teams work remotely.

In this article, you’ll learn what a content management system (CMS) intranet is, its benefits, where you can use one, and how it differs from a knowledge base.

What Is a CMS Intranet?

You’ve probably heard the terms  “CMS” or “intranet” before. But you’re probably wondering… what exactly is a “CMS intranet?”

Before we get to that, let’s define the terms separately. 

Definition: CMS Intranet

An intranet is a company website that only employees can access. It’s a place they can go to find all the work materials they need, manage business data, share personal information, and collaborate through knowledge sharing.

A CMS—or content management system—is software that enables users to create, modify, and manage content on a website without needing technical knowledge like coding.

So, back to the main term. To put it simply, a CMS intranet is a content management system within an intranet. This type of CMS will integrate directly with an intranet to allow employees to manage digital content more easily in a secure environment. A CMS helps organizations to format, create, share, and publish content within an intranet.

CMS Intranet: A Brief History

To better understand CMS intranets, let’s go back to the 90s. Back then, in the early stages of the “world wide web,” businesses used intranets as static web pages built on HTML. Employees could access some information and perform simple activities. Still, the tech was complicated, the user interface was poor, and it was difficult to add or update content without coding knowledge.

Plus, early intranets struggled when it came to virtual communication. It also wasn’t easy creating digital content within organizations. This caused the early intranets to become nearly obsolete. 

However, by the late 90s, as the internet became mainstream, so did content management. Browsers like Internet Explorer began supporting new content types like images and videos. New programming languages like CSS enabled better content formatting.

These advancements in CMS technology allowed CMS intranets to emerge to modernize intranets. Now, CMS intranets include modern collaborative features, social media integrations, content scheduling, and more.

What Are the Benefits of a CMS Intranet?

Since the late 90s, CMS intranets were designed first and foremost to assist web developers and content editors. Primarily used to create intuitive, structured, and engaging intranets, they offer various advantages to help organizations in their day-to-day operations. 

Here are some of the benefits of CMS intranets.

Streamline Internal Communications

One survey revealed that nearly 27% of employees feel their leadership doesn’t value internal communications. 

For employees to communicate with each other in a modern environment, they need to have the right tech. A CMS intranet lets employees create and manage content within intranets, such as articles, newsletters, and even video content.

Enhance Productivity and Efficiency

CMS intranets help companies improve their productivity and efficiency. In fact, research by Deloitte shows that organizations with strong internal social networks are 7% more productive. A CMS intranet enables teams to communicate easily and  ensure critical information is shared quickly to optimize productivity.

Organize Company Knowledge

The primary purpose of a CMS intranet is to let employees easily create and manage content within an organization. However, they also enable companies to store and organize knowledge. 

Companies can use a CMS intranet to help employees create, store, find, and share company information. You can even use one to assess knowledge gaps in your organization. Proper informational organization can help teams function seamlessly and improve company-wide performance.

Where Do You Use a CMS?

CMS intranets are powerful tools businesses can use to streamline communication, create and organize content, and encourage collaboration. But where exactly can you use a CMS?

Corporate Intranet

The most common place you can use a CMS within your organization is with a corporate intranet.

These are internal websites with the primary purpose of bringing employees together and informing them through multiple communication types. This is a centralized place where employees can gather to learn about company activities and announcements and share work-related information.

Corporate intranets are best used within organizations that are looking to centralize and customize content creation with a variety of permissions.

Portals

Another place you can use a CMS is within an intranet portal. A portal is similar to a corporate intranet in that it’s used to communicate work-related information. However, portals are open to a broader audience. They’re typically used to communicate externally to different organizations such as suppliers, partners, and clients. Portals are also common among education, government, and healthcare organizations.

Collaborative Intranet

Collaborative intranets are internal platforms created to foster a communicative environment within organizations. If teams are disconnected and lacking in innovation or collaboration, it may be worthwhile to use a collaborative intranet to unify teams. 

Teams can use collaborative intranets to enable advanced document and content management within the digital workplace. A few examples of this would be real-time communication through instant messaging, co-editing documents, and integrated project management. 

How to Implement a CMS Intranet

Now that you understand what CMS intranets are and where you can use them, let’s look at how you can get the most out of one in your organization.

Align It to the User’s Needs

Before you dive into using a CMS intranet, you must first look at your organization. You should research your employees to determine how the CMS intranet can align with your users’ needs.

Look at the current problems your team is facing in its daily operations. Look at content creation, content management, and collaboration and find out where the weak spots are. Then, align those needs with specific solutions with the CMS intranet.

Define Your Overall Objectives

Next, you’ll want to define your CMS intranet’s objectives. Remember, CMS intranets are best suited for internal communications, collaboration, website creation, knowledge management, and more.

However, depending on your overall goals, you may use your CMS intranet differently than other organizations. For instance, while your primary goal may be to improve collaboration, you may have a secondary objective, such as reducing software maintenance costs.

Adjust Roles and Responsibilities

Before you begin using your CMS intranet, you need to assign roles. Otherwise, your efforts may fall by the wayside. Roles and responsibilities may vary from project to project, depending on the scale or scope.

However, there are a variety of core roles like administrators,  intranet project managers, managers, and content editors.

Perform a Content Audit

Next up, you’ll want to audit all your content. Assign a manager to identify every type of content you have in place, who created it, and whether or not it’s still useful, needs to be updated, or is redundant.

Then, your communications team can brainstorm, determine how to polish content, and pick the right channels to display it.

Create a Content Plan

Remember, your CMS intranet’s livelihood revolves around content. Without content in your intranet, your intranet won’t be used by employees. To ensure your intranet has the right content, you need to develop a content plan which includes what type of content you’ll create and when it will be published to promote employee engagement.

Structure Information

Once you’ve completed your content audit and created your content strategy, it’s time to structure your information. Even if you have the right content type and a schedule to release it, it may fall flat without proper site infrastructure.

You must ensure your content is supported by great navigation to create a compelling user experience among employees. Remember to test it out. Give yourself practice scenarios where you have to find specific information to see whether or not it’s easy to search for what you need.

Personalize Your CMS Intranet

Once your CMS intranet is set up, you’ll want to optimize it so it aligns with the needs of your team. You should take the time to personalize and brand your intranet so it reflects your organizational identity and keeps employees engaged.

Employees who aren’t engaged in the workplace cost U.S. businesses between $483 billion and $605 billion U.S. dollars every year. Personalizing your CMS intranet will ensure employees use the platform and stay engaged at work.

Measure KPIs

Finally, if you want to ensure you’re getting the most out of your CMS intranet, you’ll need to measure your results.

You should come up with a few different key performance indicators (KPIs) to track to ensure you’re reaching your goals. Ideally, your CMS intranet should have third-party analytics integrations (i.e. Google Analytics) so you can gather useful data like pageviews and usage. You should also conduct user surveys to gather feedback and identify areas you can improve.

What's the Difference Between a CMS Intranet and a Knowledge Base?

CMS intranets have evolved to help teams meet the growing needs of a tech-savvy workforce. While they were originally seen as simple private websites in the 90s, CMS intranets are now a viable option for many organizations in the modern age. 

So, what’s the difference between a CMS intranet and a knowledge base?

The main difference comes down to collaboration.

With a CMS intranet, there’s a limited number of people or teams contributing to the content. While this can help ensure content is regulated,  this often means longer wait times to add new content to the system. Limited contributors within a CMS intranet also means existing content may grow stale over time since the content team has a lot more on its plate.

On the other hand, choosing the right knowledge management system can drastically amplify your collaboration efforts compared to a CMS intranet. In most knowledge management systems, capturing knowledge is democratized and encouraged for all employees. Employees can contribute to company content regardless of their team or seniority, provided their organization has chosen to configure their user permissions that way. 

Plus, with a knowledge management platform like Bloomfire, all content is deep indexed. This means whenever you search for information like company documents or customer information, you’ll be able to find what you need quickly and with ease. And reducing the time you (and your team) spend searching means you’ll get more time back to focus on more impactful work.