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14 August 2018 by David Gunnell

Choosing a Replacement CMS Web Platform

Choosing a Replacement CMS Web Platform

With so many different options to support digital strategy, a CMS is an important cornerstone to the foundations of a business since it is often the first of many digital touchpoints. Like liquid concrete, they can be easier to implement but harder to migrate from so the selection process is very important. What are the challenges and considerations that need to be accounted for? Here’s a brief summary of what you might need to have in mind:

1. Establish the business need

Why change? Normally there’s a host of reasons to change the web platform. These can range from the following:

Stakeholders – The view from public facing teams, such as Sales and Marketing, is that the organisation is not well represented by the current website ("it lags behind our competitors" being uttered in the cafeteria). Perhaps a brand refresh is required or simply a redesign is on the cards. The question remains should further investment be carried out in the old platform or should a change be considered to introduce other advantages.

Security – Site needs patching and upgrading but bespoke code makes this a challenge.

Support – Perhaps the existing platform is not supported because of its proprietary nature, age or skills shortage.

Limitations – The appetite and digital ambition of the organisation has changed. Better social engagement thought multiple platforms and different channels such as email need consolidation to achieve easier management and campaign consistency. Integration with payment gateways and a CRM and back-end systems is also vital for digital transformation.

Power - As sites grow, the ease of use that made a page-based system easy to launch, such as WordPress and Umbraco, now needs a content object approach – ‘change once everywhere’. Business expansion means multilingual content needs better management and workflow.

Of course, with digital now a business priority, true transformation may include integration into a CRM or other business critical systems to accelerate processes and create savings in time or processes.

2. Consider the digital objectives

It’s no longer just about a website. An entire digital strategy needs to be in place to understand how best to communicate to your customers. Do you need an App (probably not)? Should the solution be mobile first (yes, probably)? What are the tasks-to-be-done that your community do? How do you know? Have you done a User Experience study? How would you measure the success of your new digital platform?

After the strategic considerations a roadmap of tactical and progressive steps should be undertaken. These would include a content audit. Is the existing content valuable or should a rewrite of important propositions be considered? How can you know? Again, UX research and data will help inform the view. Do you know your most important pages? How would SEO ranking be affected by wholesale culling of content?

3. Consider the usability, functionality, budget etc.

Establish your audience, their needs, the tools you need to serve them well and then consider whether you need a powerful solution or not.

This is not as easy as it sounds since the cloud has opened up many options. Do you want a single all-singing and dancing engagement platform or would a basic CMS empowered by marketing tools be a better fit?

Most organisations that have historically bought Sitecore/EPiServer for personalisation and customer experience ONLY use it as a CMS and still pay expensive fees for its continued use and use other tools such as Dot Mailer and MailChimp for email marketing with different templates etc.

Few organisations are brave enough to simplify their web platform to an open-source offering or a cheaper solution. Instead they resolve to buy best of breed and stick with it hoping someone will eventually have the time and authority to vested in them to use the full toolkit.

So, will an open source solution be secure enough or have a good enough roadmap to fulfil your needs? This needs to be determined. Consider 5 years of value but be realistic about the features you can implement in that timeframe. The following are more enterprise requirements that will need very careful planning:

  • Multilingual
  • Multi-site with parent and subsite content and template sharing
  • Multichannel publishing
  • Campaign management
  • Personalisation and engagement

4. Plan the migration and choose experience

Give it time. Get help from experts. Ask pertinent questions of the agency who are in the selection process:

  • How many migrations have they done?
  • What tools do they use?
  • Do they have project plans you can look at? Are their estimations realistic or are they hoping to sell you on the fact their times are speedy?
  • How do they know what to migrate?
  • What are their hosting, security and data experts like? How good is their staff retention?
  • How broad are their skills, can they write good content and SEO it?

4. Consider the leading technology vendors

If you’re a sizeable organisation, look at Gartner and Forrester’s Magic Quadrant report on EPiServer, Adobe, Sitecore, Kentico and Sitefinity but don’t discount Umbraco, Drupal in conjunction with marketing and campaign tools and A/B or audience analyser, such as Google Optimize. They could change your view of the all-in-one solution to the lighter fleet-of-foot suites.

Who in your team can use them? Do you have enough internal expertise or can you recruit? Do you trust an Agency?

5. Get experts in early

Get in consultants who know what they’re doing and ask them for advice. Save money on the procurement by getting them to help write the brief and assist in the selection process.

Look for the right blend of worldly wise and practical-yet-visionary. Talk to Greenwood Campbell.