As you develop a list of important digital marketing and technical capabilities for a new digital experience platform (DXP), 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 platforms to the test to see which one best suits your business’s needs. Remember that you may not find the perfect DXP, but you will find one that can be the right solution with a little customization.
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 DXP:
- Incorporate marketing with IT: The evaluation team must include marketing professionals, content editors, software developers, and web designers. This team should plan to participate in comprehensive platform demonstrations together and separately. While the kickoff meeting(s) will include the entire team the needs for each member may be different, so allow ample time for all groups to host their own sessions with the vendor. This is when the detailed needs of the software can be addressed and the team can ask questions.
- Engage with an authorized partner: Development partners are knowledgeable in features, functionality, licensing and project implementation and will be able to work with you on behalf of the vendor. While platform vendors are certainly experts in their particular software, it is very rare that a vendor is also involved in the actual project conception and development. Partners will be your advocate and will ensure that you are getting the maximum return on your investment.
- Try before you buy: Request your partner or vendor provide a clean, out-of-the-box sandbox 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, you can see how easy or difficult it is to get started, as well as answer any functionality questions. This allows you to better go through basic data gathering and avoid any potential hiccups as you move through the decision phase.
- Put it in action: Try to build a simple website from scratch and have your content team add some page elements. In some cases your partner may be able to assist you with spinning up a sample site. This will assist in revealing what functionality is included with the product and help your business to understand what customizations may be needed.
- Get training: Almost every implementation partner will include some kind of training as part of the project. If not you should request that this is provided, either by the partner or through the vendor. Ideally any training should be done for your staff in-house so they can fully understand the platform's capabilities for effective utilization. The team will gain a clearer perspective of the product’s functionality which eliminates extensive transition time and additional money spent on training and/or support 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.
- 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 LinkedIn user groups, web searches, and product videos, then ask the vendor to…
- 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 6 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.
- 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 DXP vendors. As trusted advisory services for technology and its implementation, these firms can help you understand which solutions are appropriate for your business requirements.
The DXP selection process can be lengthy, so give your team plenty of time to research, evaluate, discuss and select the right solution for your company. Reach out to us if you need help selecting a DXP. We're experts in providing digital solutions and can point you in the right direction.