Content management systems (CMS) have evolved from backend frameworks to platforms that business professionals use on a daily basis. In fact, Enterprise Content Management is expected to be a $67 billion market by 2022.
Fortunately, if your business is looking to implement or switch CMS providers, there’s never been more options or more information. Unfortunately, it can be confusing. Solutions vary in capability and not all information can be trusted.
Let’s review the important steps for selecting a CMS that is a long-term solution.
1. Develop Your Strategy
Think ahead. Anticipate problems that might occur as you begin implementing a new CMS. A failure to install the system correctly or abandoning the software prematurely is a waste of money and resources.
Common challenges include:
Corporate politics & culture - Interpersonal problems can derail any project, especially an enterprise CMS. The technology, timing and process can be spot on, but you’ll need cooperation and cross department patience.
Limited flexibility of the product - Sometimes “lack of flexibility” is a red herring for corporate politics. It’s easy for people to say that a tool doesn’t do what they need instead of approaching new solutions with an open mind.
Lack of IT + business alignment - This could also be related to corporate politics. If IT teams don’t believe in the new solution or weren’t involved in the process, they won’t be motivated to implement it smoothly. And vice versa. Marketers, content teams and executives won’t buy into a solution they don’t understand or support.
Lack of company-wide strategy - Most CMS options are designed with collaboration in mind. If only one person or department adopts the new system, failure is inevitable.
Poor budget/resource allocation - Employees might have the drive to get things off the ground, but lack the training, time, etc.
Difficulty integrating the product with other applications - A key question in the research process is how the CMS will interact with your current suite of business tools.
Given these challenges, it’s critical to always think about why you’re looking for a CMS or looking to switch platforms. Make a decision backed by financial analysis including the estimated savings from increased productivity. Develop a strategy that involves all stakeholders and clearly defines what resources will be used. Get enterprise wide buy-in for the enterprise solution.
2. Which CMS Type?
Once everyone is aligned, determine the type of CMS your organization needs. The market is saturated yet fruitful. To date, more than 90 content management systems recorded at least some market share, according to Web Technology Surveys.
As with most software solutions, the most popular option is not always the right choice for every business. There are few categories of CMS to consider:
Open source software - Open source systems allow developers to edit, customize and collaborate with the programming community.
Proprietary software - Proprietary solutions are built based on specific customer needs. These can often include licensing fees in the range of $30,000 - $60,000, and a similar fee for installation. Unlike open source, ongoing support is provided, but for an additional cost.
Software as a service (SaaS) - Also proprietary, but with ease of use and affordability as the cornerstone. SaaS vendors provide software for a monthly fee and cancellation is usually less of a hassle than with traditional proprietary systems. Generally speaking, you can run on a SaaS platform “out-of-the-box” or customize it to fit your business, and users without programming knowledge can operate and manage the system without limitations.
3. Define Must-Have CMS Features
There are dozens of options once you’ve honed in on a certain type of CMS. The best methods of comparison are price and features. Price is an internal question that involves company maturity, revenue, fundraising stage, etc. Regardless of budget, features can be grouped into six categories.
Ease of installation/implementation The Must-Have: Migration Transferring content over from another CMS or an internal system can be a significant burden on IT. The vendor should handle this step or their software should easily guide the process, and ideally you are given a delivery schedule with expected checkpoints.
Up to you features:
Ease of use The Must-Have: Editor The content editor is the crux of success for marketing and content teams working with a CMS. Functions need to be intuitive so the entire team can contribute. The most common type of editor is a WYSIWYG, where users can change all formatting without making code changes. Make sure your team has ample time to test the editor before making a final decision.
Up to you features: Modularity (Drag and Drop)
Documentation and support The Must-Have: Trusted support Some large organizations might make 24x7 support a must-have but most can get by with reliable support from a vendor with good reviews on sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd.
Up to you features:
Scalability The Must-Have: Mobile support If you’re not thinking mobile, you’re not ready to scale and be future-proof. Big publishers like Vox Media acquired CMS tech companies to shore up their mobile capability. Buzzfeed created a mobile preview feature a few years ago within their proprietary CMS, it sounds simple, but it helped drive the CMS industry to be mobile-focused.
Up to you features:
Content workflows including approvals
Multisite support/Multilingual support
Flexibility and adaptability The Must-Have: Integrations Many platforms lack seamless integration with other apps. They rely on plugins, which are often made by third parties. These are not guaranteed to work with your CMS configuration. It’s critical that core features and important integrations your business requires are built into the platform to ensure reliability and security.
Security and Reliability The Must-Have: User management/permission control Collaboration is essential to CMS effectiveness. As such, user control and permission settings are an industry-wide standard. Verify you have a secure CMS while still being able to customize permission settings as necessary.
Up to you features:
Stability, uptime guarantees
Choosing the right CMS for your business can be overwhelming if you don’t take the time to study how your teams work together and what features are critical to your business. Don’t start reviewing platforms until you’ve done your internal homework.
With your checklist in hand, finding the best platform for long term stability, increased productivity and overall effectiveness will be a measured and successful effort.