Tapping WordPress for Internal Communication

Paul Mah

I wrote recently about the advantages and disadvantages of the PHP programming language in a couple of blogs. In the former piece, I suggested that the many popular Web-based applications built on PHP could be of value to the SMB.

 

Today, I want to specifically introduce the idea of tapping into the popular WordPress platform and leveraging it as an internal communication tool. But isn't WordPress a blogging tool better known for its popularity with individual bloggers around the globe? While that might be true, there is nothing preventing it from being used as a communication medium in the intranet of a small or medium-sized business.

 

Seriously, why plonk down a four or five-figure sum for a sophisticated portal if you only require a few of its collaboration features?

 

Unorthodox as it might seem, here are a few reasons why it can work:

 

  • WordPress is free. That's one less item on the budget to wrestle with the management over.
  • You can find plug-ins for virtually every task, ranging from a caching engine for greater speed, a full-fledged image gallery, software to setup polls , and even an Atom/RSS aggregation utility to culling data from related sites. Seriously, just about any feature that you can think of can probably be found at the WordPress plugin directory in some form or other.
  • It has inherent support for users and a few basic groups. In fact, you can even integrate it with your Active Directory with this Active Directory Integration plug-in.
  • It runs off MySQL, an open source database.
  • It is relatively lightweight lein terms of processor, RAM and hard disk usage.
  • For better business continuity protection or for greater security, you can install WordPress into a virtual machine running on Linux -- still free.
  • It runs on PHP. Whatever additional functionality you require can be created. A few years ago, I actually managed to integrate the output from a Crystal Reports server into another PHP-based blogging engine.

 


Perhaps best of all is the fact that you don't have to waste time tinkering with a UI, or reinvent the wheel rewriting core functionalities, as is often the case for intranet portals created from scratch. Practically every widget in WordPress can be rearranged, and the less artistic or inclined to dabble can just download the many templates freely available on the Internet.

 

Alternatively, with skills in CSS and some knowledge of WordPress, it is also possible to layer your own site on top of the blog engine. In fact, I know of at least one site with high traffic that used WordPress in the way I just described! So free your mind of bias and simply concentrate on the possibilities.

 

Feel free to chip in with your comments.



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Jun 25, 2009 10:00 AM Brian Nelson Brian Nelson  says:

We are currently using Wordpress as a project manager. We are a small design group for the University of North Dakota, and Wordpress has fit in perfectly as a management/communication tool. Every day, my employees log on and see what new projects are tagged with their name and they add comments to update the status of the project. Been using it for almost 6 months and we love it.

Reply
Jun 26, 2009 1:09 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Brian Nelson

Dear Brian, thanks for sharing.  What you have there sounds really cool. Could you be able to share with us if you worked off a vanilla install, or did your design group make any modifications or use any specific plug-ins?

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Jun 26, 2009 1:20 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Ken Hardin

Ken, I actually worked with a lesser-known CMS/blog engine called Geeklog (http://www.geeklog.net/) in the past, as well as peeked at the documentation of another one called Typo3.

The reason I picked WordPress here is simply due to its ease of installation and flexibility. It is very easy to get a WP site up as a blog/portal. Obviously, Drupal and other leading CMS each have their own strengths and things that they are better at.

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Jun 26, 2009 10:37 AM Ken Hardin Ken Hardin  says: in response to Brian Nelson

Hi, Paul -- do you have any experience with Drupal or the other leading open source CMSs in this context, or is there something distinctive about WordPress that sets it apart?

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Jun 27, 2009 8:07 AM John (Human3rror) John (Human3rror)  says:

Wordpress is the bomb. There's nothing like it out there.

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Jul 1, 2009 12:56 PM John John  says:

We recently installed Wordpress to support internal communications for two discreet business units. We used a skin so that it resembled a newspaper and have had nothing but success. It is specifically for our field sales folks, so having Blackberry support was a key requirement. A readily available plug-in solved that problem nicely.

The problems we faced were all internal. We wanted it to be fully monitored, backed up and supported by IT ... and that is where the problems began. While the code for all components is free .. none of it matched the accepted architecture of IT. We spent more time writing exceptions and business cases than we did deploying the two instances.

We've been operational for 3 months and getting better viewership than with a previous commercial solution ... and no problems.

If attempting to deploy with IT support ... start writing your business case now, and reserve time for handling your exception process.

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Jul 2, 2009 1:25 AM Jeremy Santaguida Jeremy Santaguida  says: in response to John

Excellent Idea.  We toyed with the idea for a 65 person environment.  Wordpress is a great tool for collaboration and shared ideas for projects.  My preferred CMS is Joomla, which allows a Wordpress "plug-in." 

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Jul 2, 2009 9:49 AM Frank Cazzola Frank Cazzola  says: in response to Brian Nelson

Brian, I am currently tasked with developing a project management solution. MS-Project idea was thrown out there, but I wanted to have more flexibility with it. What are the chances of being able to peek at your WP project manager tool, or suggestions on where I can see some similar applications with respect to project management.

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Jul 2, 2009 10:44 AM Patrick Patrick  says: in response to John

John,

I would love some more details on this.  I run a small consultancy which caters to developing solutions for SME/SMB clients and would love to look at this as an easy solution.  By the way, I am a Linux novice

P.

Reply
Jul 2, 2009 10:51 AM Patrick Patrick  says: in response to Jeremy Santaguida

Jeremy,

When you use the WordPress Plugin with Joomla, do you get the full WordPress functionality?

P.

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Nov 24, 2009 10:48 AM Sarah Sarah  says:

Wordpress is open Source software. So it may not suit some organizations, it will depend on the culture. 

Enterprise solutions provide easy support, open source solutions usually mean that the support requirement falls on IT. With IT teams being stretched due to reduced team numbers we are seeing an increase in the use of plug and play Enterprise solutions that can be run without IT input by the internal communications teams.

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Nov 25, 2009 1:57 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Sarah

Hi Sarah, do you have any specific tools or solutions in mind?  I am open to a discussion on their various merit(s).

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Jul 27, 2010 11:41 AM CommDiscussion CommDiscussion  says:

I think using Wordpress for employees would be a great idea so long as it didn't conflict with other platforms like SharePoint. You don't want your users to have to learn two different CMSs.

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