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Have you ever considered what powers the digital experiences we encounter daily on the web? Behind every engaging website, informative blog, and interactive platform lies a Content Management System (CMS).

From simple content repositories, the CMS has evolved to become the sophisticated platforms that now serve as the backbone for digital experiences for organisations across the globe.

Yet, as technology advances, many businesses find themselves grappling with outdated systems.

In this guide, we'll cover everything from helping you identify the signs of an aging CMS and key features to look out for, to what the future has in store for the enterprise CMS.

Did you know: With 57% of marketers recognising content as a top priority, the role of an efficient CMS has never been more critical!

Chapter 01

The Evolution of CMS Architecture

CMS's have come a long way since their inception.

From the rigid, code-heavy platforms of the early internet days to today's dynamic, user-friendly interfaces. Initially created for web professionals adept in HTML, the introduction of dynamic CMS platforms in the late 1990s democratised web content management, enabling those without coding expertise to publish and manage content.

What are content management systems in today's terms?

At its core, a CMS platform is a software application or set of related programs used to create and manage digital content. It enables individuals and businesses to publish, edit, modify, and organise a wide variety of content, all without needing specialised technical knowledge. This functionality not only simplifies the process of web content management but also empowers creators to bring rich, dynamic content to life with efficiency and ease.

We've also seen the CMS become pivotal to enterprise organisations which lead to the development of an enterprise CMS.

An enterprise CMS goes beyond basic content management to offer a comprehensive suite of tools designed to meet the complex needs of large organisations. It facilitates not just content creation and management but also integrates with other business systems, supports multiple users with varying roles, and delivers content across various channels, ensuring a seamless digital experience for both customers and employees.

As you can see, the modern CMS architectures have come a long way, with the enterprise CMS containing sophisticated features like personalisation, seamless multilingual support, and mobile responsiveness, alongside flexibility and scalability..

This evolution underscores an important shift towards empowering users with diverse technical backgrounds to craft compelling digital experiences efficiently.

A CMS often forms the foundation for digital experiences thanks to its flexibility, scalability and interoperability.

Chapter 02

CMS as the Hub for Digital Experiences

A CMS can be used to deliver a range of digital experiences for your entire community, making it an incredibly cost effective platform. It can create cohesive digital experiences for every corner of your community, including staff, suppliers, partners, customers, and beyond.

This enables organisations to craft a suite of interconnected digital environments tailored to the unique needs of each user group. This makes it incredibly cost effective. 

Also, when you consider CMS ROI, it's not just about the immediate financial impact. An efficient CMS can streamline processes, enhance your web presence, and foster better internal communication. It’s a powerful tool that goes beyond dollars and cents, helping your organisation perform better at multiple levels.

Common solutions built using a CMS platform include:

  1. Intranets
    A CMS can power an intranet, providing a central hub for employees to access important company information, collaborate on projects, and stay updated on company news. This internal platform can significantly boost productivity and foster a strong company culture by streamlining communication and ensuring that all team members have easy access to the tools and resources they need to work efficiently.
    Cabrini Health Intranet Solution
  2. Portals
    For suppliers, partners and any other external stakeholders, a CMS-driven portal offers a secure, personalised space where they can easily access relevant documents, project updates, and communication tools. This not only enhances the efficiency of your supply chain and partnership management but also builds stronger relationships through transparent and direct communication.
    Ascham School Portal
  3. Websites
    On the customer front, a CMS enables the creation of a dynamic website that’s both informative and engaging, alongside a customer portal that offers personalised access to services, support, and account management. This dual approach ensures that your digital presence meets the needs of potential and existing customers at every touchpoint, enhancing their journey from the first visit through to post-purchase support.
    Elcom Custom Websites
  4. Learning Management Systems (LMS)
    An LMS integrated into your CMS portal can facilitate continuous learning and development for your staff. From onboarding new employees to providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities, a CMS with LMS capabilities can help you nurture and retain top talent by investing in their growth.
    Elcom Training Module

Centralising these diverse functionalities within one CMS, ensures a consistent user experience across all digital platforms but also streamline their content management processes, making it easier to update and maintain multiple systems.


Chapter 03

Types of Content Management Systems

Picking the right CMS is a bit like choosing a new smartphone. You're not just looking at the shiny features; you're also considering how it fits into your life—or in this case, your project's life.

Understanding the types of CMS available can help you make an informed decision about which platform is the best fit for your project. Here’s a look at the primary types of CMS platforms you might consider.

Types of CMS

Traditional CMS

A traditional CMS, often referred to as a coupled CMS, offers an all-in-one approach where the content management and delivery layers are integrated.

This setup allows for straightforward content creation, management, and publication all from one system. This can simplify the process for users and administrators.

Headless CMS

Headless CMS platforms take a different approach by decoupling the content management from the content delivery. This means the CMS provides content as data over an API, which can then be used on any frontend system, be it a website, mobile app, or IoT device.

However, this separation means that businesses might need additional resources or tools to manage the frontend experience, potentially increasing complexity for teams accustomed to traditional, all-in-one CMS solutions.

Decoupled CMS

Decoupled CMS offers a compromise between the traditional and headless models by maintaining a link between content management and delivery but allowing for greater flexibility in how content is presented. This approach facilitates easier content previews and deployments compared to a purely headless architecture.

Managing two separate systems, however, can introduce a layer of complexity, requiring a well-coordinated effort between content and development teams to ensure seamless operation.

Open Source CMS

Open-source CMS platforms are built on code that's made available to the public, allowing anyone to modify, share, and enhance it. This type of CMS is often community-driven, offering a wealth of plugins, themes, and support from other users.

Open-source CMSs can be a cost-effective option, but they may require more technical expertise to customise and maintain.

Proprietary CMS

A proprietary or closed-source CMS is owned, managed, and maintained by a specific company.

Users of a proprietary CMS usually pay a license fee to use the software, which often includes customer support, updates, and maintenance from the provider. This can be a good option for organisations looking for a comprehensive, out-of-the-box solution with dedicated support.

Each CMS type brings its own set of advantages and potential drawbacks, making it crucial for organisations to carefully consider their specific requirements, technical capabilities, and long-term digital strategy when selecting a CMS platform.

This nuanced understanding ensures that the chosen CMS aligns with the goals of creating engaging, effective, and efficient digital experiences.

Case Study

The Problem

Most processes including document management were still very manual and paper based. Hino wanted to build several solutions including an intranet, extranet, portal, and web application interface to improve efficiency and communication.

The Solution

Hino Central, built on the Elcom CMS, has become the central portal not just for staff members to access the intranet, but for everyone who does business with Hino Australia. The cost and time savings are huge. Buying a new system or application for each process a department wants to automate, paying to customise it to what the business needs and then paying subscription fees can make it expensive. Now the team can build it as a custom function on Hino Central without spending a cent.

Read more

Chapter 04

Choosing the Right CMS for Your Enterprise

Choosing the right CMS for your enterprise is a critical decision that impacts not just how you manage content today, but how adaptable your digital presence will be in the future.

So how do you navigate this decision, ensuring your chosen CMS aligns perfectly with your business needs and goals?

Assess Your Business Requirements

Kick off with a detailed audit of your content ecosystem and digital strategy. Ask yourself: What types of content do we produce (text, video, infographics)? Who will be creating and managing this content? Understanding the scope and scale of your content needs will clarify which CMS features are non-negotiable.

It is helpful to categorise these needs into 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves' to guide your evaluation process.

Here are two more detailed examples:

  • Multisite Support: If your business operates multiple business units, you'll need a CMS that can easily manage and publish content across several multi-sites and sub-sites. This might include the ability to access a common asset repository to reuse assets across sites and different access permissions for publishers across different sites.

  • Complex Workflow Management: For enterprises with large teams or those that require multiple approval stages before content goes live, a CMS with advanced workflow capabilities is essential. This could involve customisable approval paths, notification systems for content review stages, and audit trails for tracking changes.

Consider Scalability and Flexibility

Scalability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity for growth. Picture your business a few years down the line – will the CMS be able to handle a surge in web traffic, an expansion of your digital footprint, or the integration of new technologies?

To assess this, look for case studies or testimonials from similar-sized businesses that have grown with the platform.

For flexibility, explore how easily the CMS can integrate with your existing tools (like CRM systems or e-commerce platforms) and whether it supports a modular approach to add or change functionalities as needed.

Evaluate the Ecosystem and Support

The strength of a CMS often lies in its ecosystem – the plugins, extensions, and community support that extend its core capabilities.

Take a deep dive into the ecosystem of your shortlisted CMS options. Dive into the availability and quality of plugins/extensions. Are there tools that specifically address your business needs? Check the supporting and troubleshooting documentation available.

Also, consider the availability of professional support:

  • Is there 24/7 technical support?
  • What are the average response times?
  • Can you access a dedicated account manager for strategic guidance?

Evaluating these aspects will give you a solid understanding of the resources at your disposal once you commit to a CMS.

Understand the Total Cost of Ownership

Look beyond just the initial costs of licensing or subscriptions. Consider the total cost of ownership, which includes implementation, customisation, training, and ongoing maintenance. Open-source solutions might seem cost-effective initially but remember to account for potential expenses related to customising and securing the CMS.

To understand the total cost of ownership, factor in the following:

  • Initial Setup and Customisation: Estimate the costs involved in setting up the CMS, including any custom development needed to tailor the platform to your specific needs. This might involve hiring external developers or dedicating internal resources.
  • Ongoing Maintenance and Updates: Consider the expenses for regular updates and maintenance. Open-source systems might require more hands-on management compared to proprietary systems with inclusive maintenance plans.
  • Training and Support: Don’t overlook the cost of training your staff to use the CMS efficiently and the potential need for ongoing support. Assess whether the CMS provider offers free training sessions or if there will be additional costs for training materials and workshops.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Formula

Security and Compliance

With data breaches on the rise, ensuring your CMS adheres to the highest security standards is important. Verify that the platform offers robust security features and complies with relevant data protection regulations. This is crucial for protecting your enterprise's and users' data and for maintaining trust.

Consider the following:

  • Regular Security Audits: Schedule regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities. This might involve internal checks or hiring external cybersecurity firms.
  • Compliance with Regulations: If your business operates in regions with strict data protection laws (like GDPR in Europe), ensure the CMS has features that support compliance, such as user consent for cookies and secure data storage practices.
  • Data Backup and Recovery: Verify the CMS’s capabilities for data backup and disaster recovery. This includes automated backups and easy-to-manage restore functions in case of data loss or a security breach.

User Experience and Content Management Efficiency

A user-friendly interface that simplifies content management, collaboration, and publishing processes can significantly enhance productivity and ensure your digital content strategy is executed efficiently. Optimising for user experience and management efficiency can be achieved with the following:

  • Intuitive User Interface: Choose a CMS with a user-friendly interface that allows your team to create, edit, and manage content without extensive training. A good measure is to request a demo and have actual users from your team test the ease of use.
  • Content Workflow Customisation: Look for a CMS that offers flexible content workflow options to match your team’s processes. This includes custom roles and permissions, editorial calendars, and collaboration tools for streamlined content creation and approval.
  • Performance Optimisation Tools: Ensure the CMS provides tools for optimising website performance, such as image compression, caching strategies, and mobile responsiveness. Faster-loading pages enhance the user experience and contribute to higher search engine rankings.

Addressing these areas with specific, actionable considerations lays the groundwork for selecting a CMS that not only fits your immediate needs but also positions your enterprise for long-term success and growth in the digital ecosystem.

Free Resource

CMS Buyers Guide + Essential Templates

Developed by experts, this guide is your essential resource for selecting and implementing the ideal CMS for your needs. It comes packed with ready-to-use templates for content audits, migration, and implementation plans, setting you up for success from day one.

Get your free guide and spreadsheet

Keep in mind that the features and functionality required will depend on your own unique needs. You might, for example, realise you need a learning management system or events manager. Always start your search with understanding your own users and the pain points you're trying to solve for!

Chapter 05

Is Your CMS Outdated?

Recognising when your Content Management System (CMS) is no longer serving your needs is crucial for maintaining an efficient, secure, and engaging online presence.

Here are some signs that it might be time to consider upgrading your CMS:

Difficulty in Updating Content

If your team finds it increasingly challenging to update or add new content without IT intervention, your CMS may be lagging. A modern CMS should offer an intuitive interface that empowers non-technical staff to manage content effortlessly.

Look for a CMS that offers:

  1. Drag-and-drop content editing features.
  2. A user-friendly dashboard that doesn't require coding knowledge.
  3. Training resources or a strong user community to help your team get up to speed.

Poor Mobile Experience

With mobile internet usage continuing to rise, a CMS that doesn't facilitate a seamless mobile experience could be holding your business back. If your site isn’t responsive or if mobile users encounter slow load times and navigational difficulties, it’s time to look for a CMS with robust mobile support.

Ensure your new CMS supports:

  • Responsive design templates that automatically adjust to different screen sizes.
  • The ability to create a mobile app version of your site to allow for additional features such as push notifications.

Lack of Integration Capabilities

As businesses grow, so do their technological ecosystems. If your CMS cannot integrate smoothly with new tools or platforms like CRM systems, marketing automation software, or analytics tools, you’re missing out on streamlining your operations and enhancing your digital strategy.

When evaluating a new CMS, consider:

  • Built-in integration support for CRM, email marketing, and other tools you currently use or plan to use.
  • An API-first approach, which allows for more flexible integrations with a wide range of services.

Security Vulnerabilities

An outdated CMS can be a security liability, especially if it no longer receives regular updates or patches from the developer. A breach not only risks your data but can also significantly harm your reputation. Regularly encountering security issues is a clear signal that your CMS needs an upgrade.

Consider these factors when upgrading your CMS:

  • Opt for a CMS with regular security updates and patches to address vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Look for features like two-factor authentication and data encryption to enhance security measures.

Inadequate Support

If you’re facing extended downtimes, unresolved issues, or if the developer has discontinued support for your CMS version, these are indicators that your CMS is becoming obsolete. Continuous vendor support is essential for a reliable online presence.

When evaluating CMS options, prioritise:

  • Responsive customer support with multiple channels for assistance (e.g., phone, email, live chat).
  • Clear SLAs (Service Level Agreements) outlining support response times and resolution procedures.

Not Meeting Compliance Standards

Compliance requirements, especially around data protection and privacy, evolve over time. If your CMS doesn’t support compliance with current regulations (like GDPR or CCPA), you risk legal and financial repercussions.

Upgrade to a CMS that offers:

  • Built-in compliance features, such as consent management tools and GDPR-ready functionalities.
  • Regular audits and updates to ensure ongoing compliance with evolving regulations.

Limited SEO and Social Media Features

SEO and social media integration are fundamental to digital marketing success. An outdated CMS may lack the necessary tools to optimise content for search engines or to manage social media effectively, limiting your ability to compete in the digital marketplace.

Choose a CMS that provides the following SEO best practices:

  • SEO-friendly features like customisable meta tags, XML sitemaps, and SEO analysis tools.
  • Social media integration for seamless sharing and tracking of content across platforms.

Recognising these signs early can save your business from potential operational, security, and engagement issues.

Upgrading to a modern CMS not only addresses these challenges and stops your CMS from becoming a ghost town but also positions you to take full advantage of the latest digital marketing strategies and technologies, ensuring your online presence is both dynamic and robust.

Case Study

The Australian Parachute Federation (APF), the peak body for the administration, regulation, and representation of Australian Sport Parachuting, sought to overhaul their digital presence to better serve their community.

The implementation of a sophisticated CMS enabled the APF to offer a custom website providing information to the public, which also acts as a membership system to manage member information. This includes dashboards for clubs to manage their operational day. More recently, they have introduced a mobile app with membership details and replacement for physical member cards.

Read more

Chapter 06

Future of Enterprise CMS

The future of the CMS industry is being shaped by several exciting trends, with artificial intelligence (AI) playing a key role in the workplace. As we look ahead, the integration of AI in CMS platforms is set to transform how content is created, managed, and delivered, offering more personalised and dynamic user experiences.

Here’s a glimpse into what the future holds:

AI-Powered Content Creation

AI is revolutionising content creation by assisting in generating articles, videos, and images.

Tools powered by AI can help content creators by suggesting topics based on current trends, optimising content for SEO, and even drafting content that writers can refine and personalise.

This not only speeds up the content creation process but also ensures that the content is relevant and engaging.

Advanced Personalisation

The role of AI in personalising user experiences is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

By analysing user behavior, preferences, and interactions, AI can enable CMS platforms to deliver content that is tailored to individual users.

This could mean showing different content based on the user's location, browsing history, or even time of day, significantly enhancing user engagement and satisfaction. 

By understanding the context and meaning of content, AI can assign relevant tags, categorise content accurately, and even suggest related content, improving the overall content discovery process.

Voice and Natural Language Processing

With the rise of voice search and virtual assistants, CMS platforms will need to leverage natural language processing (NLP) to optimise content for voice queries.

AI can help transform written content into formats more suitable for voice interactions, ensuring that your content remains accessible and relevant in the era of voice search.

Predictive Analytics

AI-driven predictive analytics can provide insights into how content is likely to perform, allowing content managers to make data-driven decisions.

By predicting trends, user behaviours, and content engagement, CMS platforms can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and adapt their content strategies proactively.

Enhanced Accessibility

AI can also play a crucial role in making digital content more accessible to users with disabilities.

From generating alternative text for images to ensuring content is compatible with screen readers, AI can help CMS platforms meet and exceed accessibility standards, making the web a more inclusive space.

As these trends indicate, the integration of AI into CMS platforms promises to not only streamline content management processes but also deliver richer, more personalised user experiences.

Businesses that adopt these AI-driven capabilities will be better positioned to engage their audiences effectively, ensuring their digital content strategy remains dynamic and forward-thinking.

Free Resource

CMS Buyers Guide + Essential Templates

Developed by experts, this guide is your essential resource for selecting and implementing the ideal CMS for your needs. It comes packed with ready-to-use templates for content audits, migration, and implementation plans, setting you up for success from day one.

Get your free guide and spreadsheet

Chapter 07

Chapter 08

Chapter 09

Chapter 10


Elcom: Your Enterprise CMS Partner

Looking for advice tailored to your unique needs? Feel free to reach out to our experts. The team at Elcom would be happy to provide answers or to arrange a free consultation

The Elcom team have been building solutions using our proven content management system for over 20 years.

From an intranet for Spotlight Group to a website for Inner West Council and car dealer portal for Kia Motors - there is no limit to what the Elcom CMS can do. 

Let’s work together

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