1. Hi James,

    yes I agree: following the requirements is always a safe road.

    But let me throw in a few additional ideas:

    1. Tony Byrne of the Real Story featured the concept to separate between CMS “products” and CMS “platforms”. I quite like this idea, as it is clearing the CMS jungle. Representing (which is a CMS platform) I’m frequently receiving questionnaires which are based on the assumption that each and every CMS is a product (which means pre-fabricated features & functions that either fit, or don’t fit). Platforms are different and it is hard to describe the benefits of a platform in a questionnaire for products. So please clarify in the first place, whether you want a platform or a product. Hint: A matching product may be a good fit for a project with clear requirements. Larger clients who want to consolidate different projects on a single CMS are typically better off with a platform. Why? Because requirements tend to change with time, and they change more quickly in web projects than in most other firlds of IT. Multiply changeing requirements by the number of projects on your single system. The result: better go for as much flexibility as you can get, but keep an eye on fast project execution.

    2. A big but: even an ideal CMS platform may not be the ideal collaboration platform (and vice versa). So if you now ask me, whether a CMS platform would do the trick (to use the same CMS for web and intranet), I’d still answer: it depends. Clustering the requirements of real world intranet customers, I sense a clear separation between “transactional” intranets and “informational” intranets. The latter is possibly a good candidate for a CMS (which may also be useful for web projects). “Transactional” intranets rather ask for a collaboration platform like SharePoint or maybe even a document management system.

    3. Have just decided, that you cannot reap in the benefits of consolidation? Well, you may still ask for integration to end up with a virtual single platform. During my “web idol” stunt at Aarhus 11 (setting up a ‘Contoso’ mountain bike web-site) I demonstrated an integrated web & Intranet scenario with a best of breed approach, i.e. CMS for the web, collaboration platform for the intranet. Such a scenario may be a good fit, if your requirements for the web and the intranet are too different.

    Regards from Dortmund, Germany

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Published May 16, 2011

James Robertson
James Robertson is the Managing Director of Step Two, the global thought leaders on intranets, headquartered in Sydney, Australia. James is the author of the best-selling books Essential intranets, Designing intranets and What every intranet team should know. He has keynoted conferences around the globe. (Follow him on Twitter)