Using a CMS Scorecard to Pick Your Next CMS

Choosing the right Web Content Management System (WCMS or more simply, CMS) is easily one of the most important choices any organization makes. Once selected and implemented, most organizations tend to stick with a given CMS tool for many years - in fact, in some cases, we have seen clients on the same CMS platform for 7 or more years. The choice of CMS is all the more important because it also defines what can and can't be easily done within your web site(s). For example, CMS tools that offer out-of-the-box integration with third-party tools will often offer more flexibility and represent more business value than a CMS that requires custom integration to link to other systems and tools.

Given the importance of the role of the CMS as the heart of an overall digital ecosystem, it is not surprising to see that many organizations struggle with the selection. The stakes are high and the choices are numerous. The challenge is that each organization is different - some have preferences for specific technologies (for example, .NET versus open source) whereas others have a need to pull legacy code or functionality from previous web sites into the new CMS platform. Some organizations have political or internal issues that affect the perception of specific CMS tools and others prefer to purchase a CMS based on specific features or functionality. Still others will prefer to choose based on analyst recommendations, or on previous experiences at other jobs.

With so many ways of choosing a CMS and so much at stake in the decision, it is best to follow an objective process that allows for a thoughtful analysis of the right CMS platforms, personalized to the specific needs of the customer. That's what the CMS Scorecard is all about.

At Ameex, we have almost a decade's worth of experience in working with, upgrading, customizing, integrating and deploying CMS tools in the .NET and open source worlds. Thanks to this experience, we have built a tool that allows organizations to objectively identify and then evaluate the key CMS platforms that best align with your specific needs.

The CMS Scorecard process typically takes between 2-3 weeks. We begin the process by conducting an initial stakeholder interview with the key decision makers, which typically includes at least Marketing and IT representatives. The goal of this session is to better understand which features and functionality are the most important to the organization in the short, medium and long-term horizons. Using this approach, we can find out which features are meaningful to a customer versus which features may be nice to have, but not essential. We also use this step to narrow a large pool of 20 choices to a smaller selection set of 3-5 candidates.

Next, we conduct additional research and analysis into the final candidates, assessing their corporate strength, the number of developers who support the CMS and its technology, the financial viability of the company, determining what the key analysts in the CMS sector think of the candidate platforms and finally, work to document the costs, licensing model and financial considerations of each CMS candidate. With this in hand, we next define the specific features and functionality available from each CMS candidate, ranking both the availability of a specific feature, but also the usability and practicality of each feature. Next, we schedule demonstrations of the selected CMS platforms to be conducted with Ameex and customer resources in attendance.

To further personalize the evaluation, we apply weights to the ranking assessments which represent the customer's preferences. For example, one customer we worked with wanted a very visual authoring experience and as such, we heavily weighted CMS candidates that offered visual authoring and dynamic, drag-and-drop features. This is done for all aspects of the platform being reviewed -the infrastructure requirements, licensing costs, features and functionality, assessments of the ease of implementing and more than 200 other criteria are documented, assessed and finally, weighted to reflect our customer's specific needs.

The final output is an objectively defensible guide to the right CMS platform choice that we call the CMS Scorecard. Reviewing the CMS Scorecard allows anyone to quickly see what was reviewed, how specific weighting criteria affects the final results and what the final answer is. It also allows us to define multiple choices for various procurement situations, which may aid organizations who have complex procurement rules. For example, we are able to identify a first choice if an organization wanted to host in-house, whereas other choices may be better for outsourced hosting approaches.

The importance of selecting the right CMS simply can't be overlooked. The CMS Scorecard exercise is a proven way of objectively looking at a complex decision and ensuring that the right tool is selected. With a small investment in time up-front, organizations can save immeasurable pain and lost business opportunities by making the right choice at the outset, leading to many years of productive, efficient and powerful online experiences.

Contact Ameex

We'd love to discuss the CMS Scorecard with you. Please Contact Us to learn more about how we can help guide you in making your important CMS decisions.

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