Making a CMS selection or technology change in an organization is one of the most critiqued processes one goes through in their career; it is also one of the most significant investments an organization can make. We never really hear about the successful transitions, except a few webinars and sessions at technology conferences. The failures tend to be epic and many CxOs have lost their jobs over perceived bad decisions and choices. So why would anyone ever want to go through this? If you have the right tools and run the process correctly; the organizational change that coincides with a platform / CMS upgrade will accelerate your output well beyond what it can accomplish today.
Identify Your Needs
Start off by listening to your product and business user’s needs, identifying features the current platform is not providing. This is the time to generate a list of all those needs and begin to come up with a weight scale for each area based on impact to your business. Understanding these needs will enable you to create a successful strategy going forward in the process. In addition to the current platform, it is beneficial to go further back to the previous platform and gain as much insight in to the decision process for making the change the last time around.
The Short List
You should identify as many options as you have the time to identify initially, then use the analyst reports from Forrester, Gartner, Digital Clarity Group and others to begin to refine this list a bit. Also take feedback from peers at other organizations if they are willing to reveal some of their research. Many open source projects are only recently being included by the larger analysts though so don’t necessary exclude based on representation alone. By the end of this phase we would recommend having no more than three to four solutions to evaluate. We’ll make it easy for you if you’re looking at PHP based solutions you should look at Drupal, WordPress, Laravel and Symfony.
There are too many choices, can we just spin a CMS Wheel?
If you’re evaluating proprietary systems like AEM, Sitecore, Ektron or OpenText this is easy; they’ll be more than happy to help. For open source solutions like Drupal, WordPress, Umbraco or Hippo you will have to be a bit more creative when doing demos. Often the larger projects will have companies supporting them like Acquia, Pantheon, Automattic and WP-Engine, but you may still want to get some expert help to build a demo for you. If you’re going with a custom solution on a Framework like Symphony, Laravel, Zend or some Java one you’ll definitely want to get some outside implementation expertise (we can help).
Internal Demos / Reviews
Now you’re getting close, if you are down to 2 or even if you think you picked the solution that’s right for you take the time to do internal demos and reviews with your own team. If you’ve selected a platform that is similar to your team’s area of expertise then you can set aside some time for them to accomplish this. If you are going outside of your current technology capabilities then you’ll want to consider engaging with a firm with experts in this platform. This is of course not necessarily a long term commitment at this point, but as with any engagement do your due diligence and make sure they understand your goals and needs you identified.
This post is an abbreviated list of what it takes to select the best CMS. Helping you with your long term technology strategy is our specialty and we would love to hear how we can help (contact us).