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Choosing a new Website Content Management System is like choosing any other important technology product in your life. When you buy into it you aren’t just buying the product but also declaring your trust in the manufacturers ecosystem, their developers, their support services and even the amount of qualified individuals familiar enough with the CMS to provide you professional services. It’s so much more than just a financial investment!

While we can’t tell you how suitable a certain tool is without getting to know you first, we can at least tell you a bit on how you’d go about finding the right CMS for your organisation. We’re technology agnostic, meaning we’ll get to the heart of the needs of your business and users before we start to recommend what technology can help solve your challenges.


Should I go Open Source or Proprietary?

If you look at the most popular CMS’ today, you’re going to see a lot of open source technologies being used. They’re relatively easy to develop and customise, with plenty of neat widgets and gadgets on a community backed marketplace. Perhaps best of all is that, barring a few add-ons or customised components, they are completely ‘free’...but unfortunately even ‘free’ can have a heavy price tag!

For example, at an enterprise level issues such as data security are of utmost importance. In the rare instance of a breach you want to be absolutely sure you can rely on someone from the technology vendor’s side for assistance, and that’s a relationship that is often sorely missing with open source software. If just one component stops functioning as intended, who can you truly depend on to help you?

With that said there are valid use cases for going down the Open Source route. For an enterprising business looking for a thorough solution though, we think you have better options available….

Proprietary software, while a much more expensive endeavour at first has the immediate advantage of giving you a sense of security and peace of mind that you have ‘someone in your corner’ if something goes wrong. Additionally, a Proprietary system’s vendor will have customer service department in most instances to aid you in setup and most likely a partnership with a professional services agency to further help you develop a solution specific to your requirements.

Our relationships with both Sitecore and Kentico— two leading Web CMS vendors — allows us to have had a breadth of experience in implementing expansive, innovative and business-objective centric proprietary solutions across multiple different industries. Naturally, having worked so closely with both vendors, we can’t stress enough the value and sense of insurance proprietary systems give our clients every day.

Regardless of whether you go with proprietary or Open source, we still have other recommendations which might help you decide on a CMS.


How Much Should You Be Spending?

CMS’s can be a massive investment. Considering that for some organisations a website is the only marketing platform (and generally speaking websites probably are the most important marketing platform) this investment can easily be justified. When thinking about costs, look at what you absolutely 100% need the system to be able to do, and work out on average how much this would cost to implement. This number will be a very important figure that helps ground talks with vendors in future.

Much like impulse buying during a sale at your favourite retailer, we often can become enamoured with things we don’t need but think or are lead to believe we do. It is therefore imperative that before you even set out on this quest to find a new CMS that you are completely cognisant of the minimum viable product you need to fulfill your user’s requirements. This will immensely help you understand what is realistically achievable in your budget but will allows you to perform further cost analysis to justify to your stakeholders any additional funding necessary to bring them their “nice to have’s”. 


What Do You Want it to Do?

So building on that last point, what do you actually want it to do? What are your business objectives? What’s your business strategy? These are questions you need a handle of when conducting research into what you want your solution to be able to do. Features are of course very important, but holistically knowing how your organisation works with technology and data factors into the equation even more so than 'feature richness'.

Another angle to help analyse the “do’s” of your new system is whether the problems of your existing CMS solution are answered by the new technology you’re reviewing. A mantra I often find myself preaching to marketing professionals is that your organisation’s technology is led by its people and their ways of working (alongside the problems these bring), not the systems they work with. Don’t hesitate to ask yourself over and over again during the project, ‘what problem am I actually solving with this technology?’. If your website is under performing a technology update is just another risk and cost you're adding to your problems unless you have a clear understanding of what you’re planning to achieve.

Furthermore buying functionality you don’t need can also be more trouble than it’s worth sometimes. Once you’ve bought it you’ll be expected to use it, and to use something it needs to be implemented… Implementing new technology means you are prone to risks of failure (including through rising implementation costs etc).

Refrain from overbuying and you’ll find that your save yourself and your users a lot of headache. 


Ask for a Demo!

In today’s hyper competitive markets, everyone is trying to differentiate themselves from other vendors and suppliers by offering customer satisfaction. One of the best consequences of this for you is that vendors will offer demo’s and free trials environments already set up with business data to help prospective buyers get a feel for the system.

Vendors may also employ specialists to demo the product for you to properly demonstrate capabilities you have expressed interest in. This is a great way to evaluate a system and also to get a feel for your vendor…You’re entering a business relationship with them, and any red flags at this point could be a sign of red flags further down the line.

At this point it’s also worth stressing…make sure you have done the leg work prescribed above before hand. If the due diligence is not done on what your solution should look like before you shortlist and demo, then you are the mercy of the suave salespeople who will promise you the world.


Next Steps…

We hope these few tips have been (or will be) helpful to you on your path to obtaining a world class CMS solution that’s right for you. As mentioned before, ClearPeople has worked closely with our clients in the past to discover and understand what they want to achieve as a business in great depth. Before we even look at technology we get to know you, as business people with real business problems, and try to understand how we could bring our expertise to help you solve your difficulties.

If the market is far too challenging for you to navigate then feel free to get in touch with us. Even it’s just a high level talk to get your bearings, we’re more than happy to hear you out and advise on how we could help you further.

Author bio

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Faizan Shaikh
User Engagement Analyst
Faizan is a User Engagement Analyst

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