Did your agency build your website CMS?

by Brad Smith, Commercial Director@ClearPeople

13/11/2014

6 reasons why in 2014 this isn’t a great idea!

I’ve noticed that a lot of businesses I talk to about their website and intranet development projects work with ‘agencies’ who deliver solutions built on a content management system that they have developed themselves. 

It got me thinking about the pros and cons of such a relationship, and also about the benefits of working with an agency that is agnostic in its approach to technology. 

It may sound a bit unusual coming from a technology agency, but here at ClearPeople we believe that technology is secondary - i.e. it’s not about the website, it’s about the experience. 

For us, a digital project begins with a deep understanding of your business and not with a ‘one size fits all’ technical solution. 

That’s why I have come up with 6 reasons why I think there is an inherent risk in working with a company that puts its own technology first. Let me know if you agree. 

1. You’re locked into a technology for a long time…

Market experience tells us most businesses expect to get between 3 and 5 years out of their investment in their chosen content management system (CMS). However due to budgetary constraints and the need to prove an ongoing ROI, many organisations actually try and push this nearer to 5 to 7 years. That’s a long time to use one technology that may or may not be keeping up to date with currents market trends and your business objectives.

2. If you fall out with the agency who built your CMS, you’re stuck with a technology nobody else understands…

I’m sure the relationship would have been sold to you with the key benefit of working with one supplier, but in reality how many technology companies have truly managed to deliver exceptional technology and a superlative delivery capability?

3. Your user requirements don’t come first, the technology does…

Proven technologies have proven implementation partners. Companies like Microsoft, IBM and Sitecore don’t have in-house delivery teams implementing their products for their customers. Why? Because technology moves at such a pace that priority needs to be given to continuous development and improvements of a product, and working to satisfy client’s requirements will get in the way. 

4. A jack of all trades is actually a master of none…

I’ve never met an agency that has won awards for producing the best design, best processes, best delivery capability and the best content management platform in the industry. There’s a reason for this.

5. You don’t want the same website as everybody else…

Customisations to the product that the client requests that don’t enhance or drive forwards the CMS platform will be ignored because it takes away from investment in the CMS itself.  If your customisations are not agreed to you’ll have to settle for the same as everybody else.

6. The solution may look nice on the surface but often is only skin-deep…

Many agencies with their own platform use proprietary or bespoke solutions, sometimes built 7 or 8 years ago, and sprucing them up so that they appear on face value to have a form of depth, but when you dig behind the scenes it’s evident that the capability of the product is very limited.

 
When talking to businesses about this I often ask them to imagine building a new home from scratch. You’ve hired a fantastic architect who has drawn up some inspirational designs. His skills lie in putting the overall vision down on paper. But you wouldn’t expect him to build the foundations and get his hands dirty with the bricks and mortar. You wouldn’t seek him out to fix your plumbing and your electrics, or glaze your windows. You would choose the right people, with the right skillsets for the job, who recommend appropriate products to complete your dream home.
 
The same can certainly be said for your digital projects. Hire an agency that has a specialised team of experts in their distinct disciplines to bring your vision to life. They will help you choose the right design and the right technology to create an exceptional user experience. 
 
Drop me a line if you'd like to talk through this approach in more detail.