Sean Hargrave
Sean Hargrave 14 August 2017

What is a CMS?

You’ve heard the term CMS, but what is it, what does it actually do? A CMS empowers you to get your companies' message out there, internally, externally or both.

 Every company, no matter what size, needs to get its message out there. It may be just internally to staff and partners, or to the public—often both.

That is what a Content Management System empowers users to do. It is a software application that lets people create content and publish it internally, over an intranet, or externally, over the internet.

Beneath graphic interface, which will be very simple to use, there will be a suite of tools that allow content to go from being created, collaborated on, edited and approved to being published and then archived. With a CMS, there is no need to be a code guru. All this can be done intuitively, following on-screen instructions and selecting clearly labelled commands.

How does a CMS work?

A CMS will often have two components: Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Web Content Management (WCM). As the name suggests, the ECM is there for enterprise-wide collaboration on any manner of content types, which are then made available for employees and partners to work with.

It is easiest to think of the ECM as an internal tool that collates content assets. The Web Content Management side then allows these pieces of content to be published outside the company’s intranet on the world wide web.

In addition, both the ECM and WCM will each have two applications, a Content Management Application (CMA) and a Content Delivery Application (CDA). Again, their names sum up what they do.

The CMA allows content to be created, edited, stored and managed, while the CDA then allows that content to appear at its chosen destination looking professional and, where applicable, properly indexed for search engines to find and rank it.

What can I do with a CMS?

For the average user, the beauty of a CMS is that you will never likely realise what is going on behind the intuitive interface. Documents, pictures, videos and reports can be uploaded on to the system, or created within it, and then shared internally or published externally.

It may be publishing a new web page that is properly indexed with the most apt keywords, to aid your company’s search profile. It may be collating figures and graphs into a final report that is shared with project partners or a promotional flyer assembled within an approved framework that is handed out at a conference.

The beauty of a CMS is that it is not only a central place to create, collaborate on and edit content, it also stores assets so they can be published wherever they need to go.

In the longer run, once you have a CMS up and running, another very useful attribute becomes clear. Content soon becomes dated, people will move departments, change job titles or leave the company, and so a search for the executive involved will flag up the relevant documents that need to be changed. It’s the same with the wording of an offer or pricing information.

Without a CMS in place, a company will be at the mercy of someone who knows html code inside out to go in and make changes to their content. With a CMS, it’s a simple case of searching for the relevant content and updating. As soon as the content is refreshed, the affected web pages will be instantly updated and, internally, any reports or documents will be up to date the next time an executive accesses them.

A CMS, then, is a smart HQ for your content, which is not just helping in its creation and storage, but also enabling it to be shared and published wherever it needs to go, always ensuring it is kept up to date and archived.

If you are looking to invest in a new CMS or update your current CMS, our CMS Vendor Selection Pack can help you through the process. It can be a daunting task for anyone who doesn't have previous experience in choosing a CMS. This bundle of documents will help you find the vendor best suited to your requirements. 

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