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I am looking to build an intranet system. I want something that will awe my boss, but I don’t have year to build it- I could but why do that when there are countless systems that have already been developed that are just as good as anything I could build.

For the uninitiated: A CMS is a software system used for content management. This includes computer files, image media, audio files, electronic documents and web content. An intranet is just a local organizational website that features stuff that are exclusive to the local users [mainly company staff].

There fore am looking to re-use joomla or drupal to create an intranet that will do my organization proud. I like the idea of Drupal (it’s open source and allows great control over your site). Joomla is another open source CMS which tickles my fancy but less so than Drupal.

Most web designers seem to have their own CMS, some more basic than others. I’ve heard they can often be full of problems.

Question is…am I better going for open source or a custom CMS?

With a large budget for development and ongoing support a bespoke system will give me exactly what I need, to the letter.

On a limited budget a CMS like Joomla! could give me a very powerful site with much less hassle. Software is often about compromise. Bespoke is a nice to have but often impractical if not downright impossible.

I’d be wary of taking a custom system from a small provider who are not established simply because if they go missing I will be stuck … and where does that leave the organization??

Just some initial thoughts

Experience has taught me, that things are not as black and white as bespoke and opensource. There are very little that is truely bespoke, most will use some standard components and at the same time very few will use opensource without making at least some minor changes even if this is just changing the presentation layer or plugging in some additional opensource modules.

Which is best? Removing all commercial considerations (time & finances) bespoke will always be better in exactly the same way as a tailored suit will be a better fit than an off the shelf one. In reality however development-implementation time and costs are significant considerations both for implementation and future changes.

The more bespoke something is generally the more expensive and the longer development is/ more difficult for others to pickup the reigns if you choose to switch developers. It can also be a case that you “forget” to ask for/ dont realize you need elements which become apparent after launch. On the flip side, opensource creates challenges of differentiating yourselves from everyone else who uses the same system, compromises are most likely going to be needed, unused elements add additional overheads/security holes etc but they are tried and tested.

I’ve access to a custom built CMS but then ditched it in favor of Joomla. One of the things our provider could never get right was the synchronization of users across websites being done automatically. Joomla does this perfectly, meaning that users on my e-commerce site can log into any of the other websites with the same username and password.

Will update later.