5 good reasons we plumped for Drupal

Rod Tatham's picture
Rod Tatham

Five years ago, we took the decision to migrate our flagship product - Sereno Intranet - onto the Drupal platform. The choice followed lots of soul-searching and in-depth research into potential alternatives such as SharePoint or WordPress.

Fast forward to today. We have long-since migrated all our existing intranets as well as building over 20 new ones for the likes of CGL and Addaction. We've always had really positive feedback from both end users and content editors about our choice, who have found Drupal refreshingly easy to work with.

We've never looked back. The choice has proved right for us. Some of the upsides have been nice surprises, while others we identified as benefits during our research back in the day.

Here's five reasons why it's worked out

Drupal is modular by design - so it's super flexible and offers long life to your software

Drupal is open called 'lego-like', meaning that you can easily plug-in pre-built features such as a discussion forum or a blog. Lots of modules already exist. It not, an experienced development team can fix it for you by building a new feature. In other words, you can install tried and tested tools and integrate it into your intranet, quickly extending it to match new demands.

In our experience, this beats other closed source options such as SharePoint hands down. It proves the technical solution can adapt to changing organisational needs. For example, Sereno Intranet has new modules added recently to supply a new Wellbeing section with mini-blogging, staff surveying and a host of other nice touches.

Another recent addition is the innovative 'search for anything' tool built on Drupal's Search API module, allowing users to interrogate thousands of documents, user profiles and other resources in a refreshingly easy and interactive way.

Open source means you don't get stuck with something unwieldy or expensive

By piggybacking Sereno Intranet on Drupal, you get all the advantages of adopting great open source software. It prioritises accessibility, it's security record trumps that of any commercial product and it can cope with the arrival of new mobile devices and tablets quickly.

And with Sereno Intranet, customers get no nasty code ownership surprises or find themselves landed with expensive year on year licences.

Things you do all the time should be painless

You don't want to spend valuable time on routine tasks when you could be doing interesting things like keeping the home page vibrant.

Let's take user management as an example.

Setting up users, reminding them of their passwords and troubleshooting access issues should be like falling off a log. In fact, a basic requirement of any intranet is to handle user accounts smoothly and automate regular jobs wherever possible - so why is it so often such a pain?

Whether it's a simple all-staff intranet, or sets of groups who all need access to different resources, Drupal's robust permissions system and easy to master interface allows management with a minimum of fuss.

Importing and exporting users and content should be easy

Most intranets are rich in content - and these days you'll likely be migrating from a legacy system into your brand new intranet. Drupal is a passed master at allowing users and content to be imported automatically in one go.

Many migrations stall at the sheer complexity of choosing and moving content to the target system, but Drupal has a comprehensive set of migration tools to carry the day.

Content is king - so give decent tools to content editors

Content is the bread and butter of any intranet - whatever the technology. So it's surprising that the content editor team's experience is so often an afterthought in intranet system design.

Adding and updating content is all too often a clumsy and tedious chore, which is a big problem for the project as a whole. Intranets where content doesn't move regularly soon put off staff who get bored with stale contributions.

Fortunately, the oft-neglected role of site editor is front and centre within Drupal. With the editor tools integrated so nicely, technical barriers are removed from making sure your intranet is buzzing with fresh content and therefore engaging to repeat users.

What's your experience with Drupal and open source software when it comes to delivering intranets? Have you got an alternative top five technology advantages - either for Drupal or your software of choice? Let me know what you think.

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