If you’re business owner and would like to automate your business processes, put your documents and files management safely into the cloud, then in this article you’ll find a few hints to consider while choosing appropriate solution.

We’ll talk now about one of the most popular tools for business automation – Intranet.

What is Intranet?

If put simply, Inranet – is like internet (computer network) but used within one company. Intranet itself is an operational system used within company to automate processes, manage and collaborate on documents, and finally allow employees to communicate effectively.

The main goals of Intranet is to:

  • increase company productivity, thus save some time and money; sometimes even decrease number of employees due to automation;
  • keep and collaborate on important documents and files safely with proper backups policy established;
  • allow employees communicate and discuss company matters effectively, also empower communication within groups and company departments;
  • keep everything in one place, thus making it harder to miss, lose or forget any important details during working hours;
  • manage sales, customers and projects more productive and all in one place;
  • also allow web publishing; so part of intranet may optionally become extranet: available to external world;
  • operate business process regardless of employee working environment, aka cross-platform;
  • simplify company book keeping and accounting activities.

List of functionality that intranet may provide for your company could go on and on.

There are different kind of intranet solutions which could either provide full list of possible company requirements or just a small fraction of functionality. E.g. you can have intranet only for document management and employees collaboration while having sales and marketing department staff hanging around a different Custom Relation Management system. So every company department could use it’s own separate intranet solution.

Final note on Intranet definition: Intranet is always about applying Internet and Web technologies. This means all data is located in one place where every intranet member, using web browser, contributes to the same data storage. So using company Intranet for employees is much the same like using any website with private access.

What is Plone CMS?

Now, let’s turn to our most beloved intranet solution: Plone CMS.

Plone is content management system, that is perfect for developing custom intranets to fit your specific needs. It provides a lot of above listed intranets requirements out of the box. But could also be easily accustomed and tailored to your business needs with bunch of addons, integrations and finally custom programming.

Plone is very popular among government, educational and non-commercial organizations. Also we, at SoftFormance, implemented a few intranets for middle-sized companies that were really happy with it.

Finally Plone CMS is listed in wikipedia Intranet page as one of most popular Intranet solutions 😉

Now let’s check 5 most powerful Plone CMS features that will help you identify if it can help you automate your own business:

5 reasons to consider Plone CMS for your company intranet

We’ll focus here only on 5 most compelling Plone CMS features that, I think, are very good reasons to consider this CMS as a great Intranet solution:

1. Easy to use and collaborative content management interface.

Plone provides you with bunch of pre-defined content types: news item, event, folder, files/images, wikis, and many more. With new content type frameowrk Dexterity you can easily create your new custom types with mouse clicks online, much like in wordpress custom types addon.

You don’t need to visit admin backend to manage content, you have it all at front-end side. In matters of seconds you can create site hierarchy, add docs, files and share them with others in your company.

2. Workflows and Content Versioning

Plone CMS provides great tools to keep history of every content manager activity with a possibility to revert to any past version.

Also there is a way to update published content using checkin/checkout approach so that nobody would see any temporarily broken or draft pages until it’s ready for public.

Also in Plone you can have different user roles on the site and each role will be able to perform only one action on any given object. Let’s say, author – creates new document, reviewer – approves it for publishing, manager – can do everything. And all this workflow is managed with one simple dropdown menu.

3. Users Management

Plone CMS is particularly good for big companies with large number of employees.

You can feed your external users databases into Plone and have all your employees appear within your newly created intranet. There are different addons that allows you to integrate external users databases with Plone CMS, like LDAP.

Plone as intranet allows you easily add new users, roles, groups, assign permissions and activities. Local roles and previously mentioned workflows make it possible to update each and every aspect of user access to your important content and files within company.

4. Security

You’ll probably agree that all above listed features and goodness worth nothing if your data is stored in some non-secure environment. And this is where Plone CMS is particularly good!

Plone is known among other popular CMS-es for it’s great security record. Also here you can find how Plone is handling 10 most common attack types.

This CMS is considered one of the most hardest to break among other CMSes. It uses ZODB as database (which is No-SQL database) and Zope application server behind the scenes which makes it quite hard nut to crack.

So, shall you decide to pick Plone CMS for your company intranet, your sleep will be calm and secure 🙂

5. OpenSource, Community, Addons and Customization

Plone gathered great community around. Annual conferences all over the world will make you feel safely when it comes to finding premium support or change your existing services provider.

Plone community is mature, welcoming for newcomers and always supportive!

This CMS is OpenSource software.  Not much to say here – you just get your default Plone installation for free and with ability to upgrade to new versions also for free. You pay only for custom development to tailor default Plone to your very specific needs.

***

So if you are business owner or manager looking for solution to:

  • allow your employees effectively manage important documents,
  • effectively collaborate and quickly create documentaion,
  • with security track record,
  • and great community around,

then we, SoftFormance team, highly recommend considering Plone CMS as a possible solution.

I hope this short overview gave your some useful insights on how to pick proper intranet solution for your business needs. And more importantly, gave you good starting points on what is Intranet and why you may need it in the first place.

If you’re already using intranet in your company then I encourage you to post comment in a form below and share your experience! What is the most important for you while considering Intranet solution and business automation procedures?