A Roadmap for Choosing the Right Content Management System [CMS]

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Are you considering a new web-based, cloud CMS system for your business? If so, as you develop a list of important digital marketing and technical capabilities for a new web-based CMS, then you must also create a short list of potential solutions that may meet your needs. From that point, you’ll need to put one or more web CMSs to the test to see which one bests suits your business’s needs. Remember that you may not find the ‘perfect CMS’ for your business, but you will find the right one that with a little customization will be your solution.

The following best practices provide some guidance on how to gather hands-on experience, third-party objective information, and product know-how to make an informed decision. Think of it as your roadmap for choosing the right web-based CMS for your company:

  1. 1. Incorporate marketing with IT: The development team that should be assembled to guide this decision making process must include marketing professionals, content editors, developers, and designers. This team should plan to participate in comprehensive demonstrations together and separately. While the kickoff meeting(s) will include the entire team, the different roles and needs by each member may be different, so allow ample time for all disciplines to host their own sessions with the CMS vendor. This is when the detailed needs of the software can be addressed and the individuals can ask questions; that address their business or technical requirements.
  2. 2. Try before you buy: Request the CMS vendor install a clean/out-of-the-box version of its product for your development team to review, test and run. Demo systems are highly configured and don’t necessarily give you a clear view of the complexity of the product. With a clean installation, your business can see how easy or difficult it is to get started, as well as, answer any functionality questions in a timely manner without needing to contact the vendor for basic data gathering to avoid any potential hiccups during the implementation phase.
  3. 3. Put it in action: Ask the web CMS vendor if they have or could build a simple website from scratch for your development team. This will assist in revealing what functionality is included with the product and help your business to understand what customizations may be needed.
  4. 4. Get training: Strongly consider either inviting the vendors in-house to conduct training for your staff to fully understand the capabilities for effective utilization. The team will gain a clearer perspective of the product’s capabilities and shortcomings, potentially saving your business significant training dollars, eliminating extensive transition time and saving money in the long run. Some vendors offer group training at a lower cost, but it normally includes sending the development team to the vendor’s technical training classes, which may become costly with travel expenses.
  5. 5. Reach out to the developer community: Most vendors have a vibrant developer community, so research and tap into this group for further insight into the product’s pros and cons. As you research, be sure to look at the LinkedIn Users Groups, perform a GoogleTM search and reach out to any companies you can on your own, then ask the vendor to…
  6. 6. Talk to some of their current customers: Ask for references of customers in your industry who chose the product and are utilizing it (as well as those not fully utilizing it – this will help figure out what not to do). Speak with those customers to gain insight into real-life experiences with the product. During step 5 you may also uncover individuals who did not choose this product – reach out to them too if applicable to see why they went with another solution.
  7. 7. Finally and if your budget allows, or if you already retain these services in your company, ask an analyst with a leading firm such as Gartner or Forrester to provide insight into web CMS vendors. As renowned advisory services for technology and its implementation, these firms can help you understand which solutions are appropriate for your business requirements.

The web CMS selection process can be lengthy, so give your development team plenty of time to research, evaluate, discuss and select the right solution for your needs. The right vendor and CMS is out there, now go find it!

Reference: Whitepaper, “How to choose the best web content management system for customer experience management,” produced by Sitecore.