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Why You Should Use an Open Source CMS for Your Corporate Intranet

If you want to maximize employee adoption of your intranet, you can’t just tell people to use it. There should be a clear incentive to adopt the company intranet, meaning that you need an intranet platform that you can customize to your users’ specific needs. 

Most importantly, you need an intranet platform where the information architecture is flexible; one where you can build the employee experience according to your organization’s unique structure and workflows. 

This brings us to our main topic: for projects like intranet portals, which require a lot of flexibility, open source content management systems such as Drupal are often the best choice.


📖 Download our white paper, Building business-friendly intranets with Drupal


5 major advantages of open source intranet platforms

Let’s take a look at why open source technology is such a great fit for corporate intranets by breaking down five of its biggest benefits:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Extensibility
  3. Integration
  4. Search
  5. Cost

1. Flexibility to accommodate any corporate structure

The hardest part of building an intranet is building one that’s designed for the employees, and not just as a reflection of your organization. 

This might be tricky because the departments and silos in your organization are also a part of your company’s identity and it’s natural (and easy) to organize your content this way. A silo for IT, a silo for finance, easily maps to sections in your main navigation. But that’s not how most of your employees think. 

An open source intranet platform will allow you to control how the content is organized—not just from a menu perspective, but also in terms of designing your own metadata and how content is tagged with taxonomy terms. 

2. Extensible functionality

What you don’t want when creating an intranet is limitations. 

You don’t want to be limited in how you can structure your data, what kinds of files you can upload, or how people can collaborate. You want to start off with a solid base of features and have the flexibility to transform with the needs of your organization. 

Open source intranet solutions like Drupal provide more flexibility because you have the freedom to add modules to extend functionality, and plug and play with the tools you’re already using to communicate with employees.


🔎 Case study: Migrating an intranet from SharePoint to Drupal


3. Integrates with existing identity management and workflows

No one wants another login or a new set of habits to build. If the intranet fits nicely into your existing workflow, adoption will be so much smoother. That means integrating with your identity management system, and using single sign-on so that users don’t get stuck with an endless cycle of login pages. You can integrate Drupal with any single sign-on (SSO) service (such as CAS, OAuth or SAML) so employees can easily log into your website with their existing credentials.

Open source also gives you the flexibility to customize your intranet platform so that it maps smoothly from the groups, departments, and org structures in your LDAP service (such as Microsoft Active Directory or Open LDAP) to the roles and permissions of your intranet. This ensures that people have access to the information they need for their specific role at the company. 

Drupal in particular has a flexible user management system at its core, and every single piece of functionality is mapped to users’ roles and permissions. This means you have granular control over what users can see and do.

With an open platform, you’re not stuck with limitations in terms of which identity management tool to use. 

You can also add integration with other systems you’re using to accomplish things like:

  • Pulling in data or documentation from other platforms to display on the intranet
  • Pushing notifications to an employee app via JSON API
  • Automatically building a set of contacts from an existing employee database
  • Connecting with Slack, Microsoft Teams, or whatever other internal communication tools you’re using, via custom integrations

4. Powerful taxonomy-based search

A flexible search experience that you can customize and tweak, unlike a black box that just spits out results, will allow you to build a more intuitive way for users to find content. 

Drupal integrates with open source, enterprise-grade search technologies like Elasticsearch and Apache Solr that provide optimal flexibility, allowing organizations to build search experiences that correspond to their employees’ specific information-seeking behaviours and needs.

5. Low starting cost

Open source software is always free, so you’ll only be paying for the actual design and development of your intranet—not the platform itself. This will allow you to focus your budget and resources on building optimal experiences for your users.

Build an open source intranet

Here at Evolving Web, Drupal is our open source platform of choice for creating intranets because it provides the most options and flexibility, while having lots of out-of-the-box features like content moderation and granular access control that can be tailored to correspond exactly to client requirements. 

If you’re currently evaluating your options for building your corporate intranet, consider moving towards an open source platform like Drupal. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experienced developers and designers—we’d be more than happy to discuss your next intranet project.

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