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Selecting a New CMS Platform? Follow These 3 Tips For Success

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Digital Strategy
Published on October 25, 2016

Are you planning to move your website to a new content management system (CMS)? Be sure you follow these tips to choose the platform that will meet your needs.

In almost every company, institutional change, employee attrition, and personal preference can drive the desire to change the platforms organizations use on a day-to-day basis to execute on their digital strategies. This is especially true when it comes to Content Management Systems (CMS). It’s all too common to hear about a situation where a new employee who loves a particular CMS starts working in a department, and they spend every waking moment trying to convince their management team to migrate their existing website to this new platform. This usually makes this employee happy, but it often turns into a situation where the migration process does not go through the proper due diligence steps.

In fairness, the CMS market has become more sophisticated than ever, which often makes it extremely difficult for teams to differentiate between the available platforms. This usually leads organizations to evaluate platforms they believe are “Best of Breed” rather than those that are the right fit for their organization. Investing in a platform that offers advanced capabilities that will never get used makes it extremely difficult to recognize the ROI from your CMS investment. In order to help you avoid this scenario, below are three tips you should be aware of when selecting a CMS.

1. Define Your Business Needs

It is really important to investigate and define your business needs from both a content management/marketing perspective and a technology perspective. A platform that will meet your IT department’s security requirements but isn’t agile enough to execute on your digital strategies probably isn’t a great fit for your organization. But it’s also important from a marketing perspective to ensure the selected CMS is secure, since the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a website that gets hacked, wiping out all of the marketing team’s hard work. Ensuring that you have fully defined your business needs beforehand will allow you to select the platform that best meets those needs.

2. Talk to the People Who Use the Platform Every Day

When it comes to selecting a CMS, it’s important to not just ask for demos of the software, but also review what the people who actually use the software have to say about it. There are dozens of trusted social review sites on the internet today that do a great job of aggregating feedback from everyday users, letting you know what you can expect from the software and its support services. It’s always interesting to read reviews of CMS platforms that offer US based support, but everyday users indicate that their support responses only occur in the middle of the night (indicating that the actual support services are happening overseas). Hearing from the people who use the platform regularly will help you understand whether the platform will be able to meet your needs and what issues you are likely to encounter.

3. Account for License and Feature Scaling

With many CMS's offering all-in-one packages, it’s important to remember that you might not need everything all at once, and therefore, you don’t want to pay for everything all at once. If you aren’t ready for a specific advanced feature, you shouldn’t have to buy it now (within reason, of course). However, when your business needs require it later, you should be able to scale to accommodate new features. Many CMS's today don’t account for this level of granular scaling, but it is extremely important to consider a platform that does. Remember, business needs change all the time, and technology is consistently advancing, so make sure you select a CMS that will adapt with you.

Selecting a CMS can be complicated, but you don’t have to do it alone. When the organizational demand indicates the need to evaluate new digital tools, the first thing we recommend is finding a strong partner to guide you through this process. The old saying that “you don’t know what you don’t know” is especially true when it comes to digital platforms, so spend the time upfront and make sure you have a partner that will stand with you side-by-side though this business critical process.