Content Management Systems and the Competitive Advantage for Small and Medium Enterprises
In the global business economy, every organization needs a competitive edge. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) may find it difficult to differentiate services and products from competitors. But the competitive advantage is broader than product and service offerings.
To be competitive in your market of choice, you will also need a competitive edge to attract and retain employees, partners and suppliers. Competitive advantage can even extend to financial resources. The organization that can easily flex to obtain additional financing and provide timely expansion has a critical edge on its competitors.
One of the key factors for flexibility is building and maintaining a stable, innovative communication framework. This framework can provide numerous advantages for internal and external communication. The expanding reach of Content Management Systems (CMS) offers a foundation for growth and enables a flexible environment where your organization can creatively address client, employee and partner needs.
To engender competitive differentiation, your organization must assess the available tools and solutions in the CMS software market. Open source tools provide flexibility for a multi-layered functional approach and there are proven CMS frameworks, modules and templates that provide a simple environment and toolkit from which you can create your CMS solution.
Let’s take a look at some of the areas within your organization where CMS may offer a competitive edge.
- Client Facing Applications
CMS applications can provide a framework for marketing and selling products with the flexibility to allow clients to search for and find the products they want and to easily obtain product manuals, and warranty information. These portal structures can also enable simple, immediate interaction with clients using chat, IM and video.
Online brochures, discount coupons and other materials can be added to the site to accommodate seasonal or special sales or update product information with the touch of a button. It is easy to manage new product announcements, promote events, trade shows, conferences and other activities.
You can easily create password protected areas for clients who have established credit accounts or other relationships with your organization. Here, your customers can order, review the status of orders or maintain personalized preferences in how they see and review your products or other information provided by your company.
- Employee Facing Applications
Employees can use intranet sites to check benefits, enter time for payroll, schedule vacation time and communicate with HR. They can also view and apply for positions, complete periodic review and performance evaluation documents and read internal newsletters or company announcements.
Employees can also use CMS portal frameworks to register for training, book travel and accomplish critical tasks (see Collaborative Structures, below). Employee portals can increase and improve company communication and ensure that your team is working with the most up-to-date information, training manuals, and policies and procedures.
- Partner Facing Applications
CMS solutions make it easy to communicate with partners and subcontractors and to assign tasks, review and edit project documents, file contracts and other shared documentation. Joint press releases or promotional materials can be developed and edited and partners can share sales and project contacts and store detailed information about customers.
- Collaborative Structures
Collaborative structures can be organized as shared file systems with security at every level to enable those who need information to have access and to disable access for those who should not see certain information. Collaborative sites can include information in a dashboard format allowing site administrators and selected team members to add events, assign and manage tasks and add new project folders or information.
CMS systems make it easy for administrators to add and remove access as employees or partners are added or terminated or as they change roles.
You can file documents in a library format and check them out for review or editing, thereby controlling and logging the changes and ensuring that multiple versioning is maintained for audit purposes.
Collaborative applications of CMS environments can also provide an ideal repository for research and development materials and can incorporate and integrate reporting from various sources within the organization, e.g., production, manufacturing, sales, marketing, advertising, and administrative and management functions, IT and other functional areas. You can maintain key knowledge documents and manage documents and other file formats including images, spreadsheets, specifications, templates and forms.
You can schedule reports on a daily, weekly, or other periodic basis. These reports can replace reports from old Executive Information Systems with more flexible reporting systems that are flexible enough to change as required.
Document management and collaboration is simple in the CMS environment. For example, if your organization is preparing a proposal, your team may be assigned various sections within the proposal document. Each can contribute their portion of content and others can comment on the content or, if you allow access, they can make changes to content drafted by others.
Legal counsel and contract managements can review and refine content to comply with critical policies and procedures.
The examples provided above will give you an idea of what you can do with CMS applications. Whether your organization is using the Content Management System (CMS) for clients, employees, partners or other stakeholders, the ability to easily communicate with target groups, and to share and update information in a timely fashion can create a crucial edge for your organization in its market of choice.
Many studies illustrate the significance of communication and ease of use in client and employee satisfaction. In business, retaining customers and employees is critical to success. Acquiring new clients is costly. Acquiring and training new employees is also an expensive proposition.
Remember that Content Management solutions can provide an important edge for your business but only if you can fully leverage the potential of the CMS system. Once you develop a competitive strategy, be certain to engage a CMS service provider who is skilled in the use of these tools and solutions; one that will recommend the solution that is most appropriate rather than the one that they know best.
When innovation and flexibility is built into the system, your organization can easily take on update and editing tasks and make timely changes to respond to the market and to changes within the organization.
In the competitive business environment of your market, a well conceived, feature rich Content Management Systems (CMS) can offer the advantage you need to differentiate your organization and establish your business as an industry benchmark.