With an increased frequency of reports citing that the US economy is on the mend, businesses large and small are dusting off their checkbooks. Greater confidence in the economy and recent demand increases for goods and services have many organizations ready to tackle their IT projects that had once been shelved due to funding freezes; however, many remain anxious in spending on their website initiatives because of failed web content management system (WEM) implementation horrors in recent years. Unmet requirements, wasted spending, increased costs, lackluster user adoption and uninvolved executives are all perils that buyers face with selecting the wrong CMS. So how can you sidestep these hazards?

Develop a sound Web Content Management (WCM) selection methodology that includes: defining a content strategy, knowing and prioritizing requirements, valuing CMS ROI and obtaining executive sponsorship.

Business and IT Benefits Spark CMS Project Investments

For many emerging and mid-sized organizations, the recession forced them to focus resources and energies on keeping existing customers through customer service. Serving existing customers was the priority. Attracting new customers fell to a lesser priority, as sales demand and buyer interest all but evaporated. Now the concentration of resources has shifted from customer service-focused initiatives to marketing and lead generation-focused initiatives as the economy awakens. The result? Investment in website initiatives -- and more specifically CMS projects -- is once again gaining traction. Organizations are gearing up their CMS projects to:

  • Improve lead generation, customer experiences, and market awareness. More businesses and consumers are using the web channel to find, research and interact with organizations. Web properties are quickly becoming key sources for building awareness about organizations, generating qualified leads, establishing customer experiences, and engaging with customers. CMS apps provide the means by which organizations can present themselves online and collect or manage information from website visitors.
  • Empower marketing personnel and streamline information time to market. CMS apps empower marketing resources with the ability to manage and publish content themselves. By enabling marketing personnel to update web content themselves, content can be updated directly from the creators of content and the time to publish content on the site can be reduced. What this means is faster time to market product and service information, which can, in turn, lead to enhanced and more effective marketing and sales capabilities.
  • Minimize costs and maximize operational effectiveness. With quicker time to market product and service information, CMS apps can increase marketing’s utility and effectiveness, as well as increase IT capacity. Since business resources can update site content themselves, IT resources aren’t burdened with remedial content updates. They can focus their time on coding and tackling other IT projects, as well as handle other IT demands.

Don't Pick the Wrong CMS

Selecting the wrong CMS can paralyze your organization…..and possibly cripple your career

Although CMS project activity has gained steam, organizations are still nervous and skeptical. Horror stories abound over CMS projects that failed to produce benefits and live up to expectations. Many times, failed projects are due to poor choices made in CMS selection.

The perils of selecting the wrong WCM center on:

  • Increased costs. A critical issue with choosing the wrong WCM is the increased costs that result from it. These include costs like additional customization to support growing user requirements, limited application integration flexibility and restricted scalability to support large user bases. The result? Wasted IT investments that force organizations into paying for a CMS project multiple times over a short timeframe.
  • Unsupported needs and lackluster user adoption. When apps fail to support business needs, line of business personnel avoid using the CMS because there’s no incentive or benefit from using it. The result? Users utilize alternative tools, like spreadsheets, to support their daily activities and the CMS app becomes shelf-ware because users don’t utilize the CMS.
  • Lack of executive support. Leadership is a critical component in any IT project. Executive leadership helps in gaining buy-in from the organization, making a project a priority, and giving a project visibility. Failing to involve senior leadership can be devastating, both from an operational and political standpoint. The result? Without senior leadership support project importance is lessened and in some cases it can mean losses in political capital, tarnishing your reputation and possibly your career and position in the organization.

Pick the Right CMS - Here's How

Follow a seven step checklist to avert pitfalls and ensure optimal CMS selection.

Pressures to act swiftly and get IT projects done rapidly are always Omni-present, but those pressures shouldn’t drive hasty or uninformed decisions. If you’re one of the many decision makers currently engaged in a CMS project, follow the checklist below to ensure you select the best content management system for your organization.

  1. Define and solidify your content strategy. Any initiative begins with strategy. In the WCM arena, organizations need to have a firm grasp on what sort of information and content they want to put online before implementing a solution. This begins with making decisions like: determining what goals and objectives need to be met from the CMS and content perspectives, identifying what product/company/service information needs to be available online, and knowing how social media tools and applications will be used as well as how they’ll impact your online brand, presence, and image.
  2. Inventory and gain consensus on your CMS requirements. CMS apps are built to support business processes. Yet not all business processes can be supported by a WCM. It’s key to develop an understanding of the requirements that need to be fulfilled by the CMS and highlight those that are not “content” related. For example, some organizations may have website needs for E-commerce, Contact Management or Inventory Management. While some CMS solutions can support rudimentary capabilities in these areas, their core purpose is for managing content. As a result, through inventorying requirements you may discover that your needs are highly cross-functional and may not be supported by a WCM alone.
  3. Determine requirements priority. Not all requirements are the same. Some requirements are more impactful to a business’s capabilities than others. For example, being able to manage content efficiently may be more of a priority than being able to poll and survey users online. The key is to highlight which requirements are critical, which ones are important and which ones are less essential so that when you arrive at a shortlist of solutions you can stress test those products against what’s meaningful to your organization.
  4. Compare solutions against common criteria. Once you’ve gotten your requirements inventoried and prioritized, you have a baseline of common criteria to compare solutions against one another. An added measure you can take is to develop a scorecard based on the criteria. For each criterion you can develop a scoring scale that measures the application’s strength (or weakness) to support your requirement.
  5. Evaluate apps strengths and weaknesses versus your requirements. Not all WCM apps have the same functionality. They have varying functionality strengths and weaknesses. Some are built on a SOA architecture, while others are built on proprietary frameworks. It’s important to know the differences so that you can tell how the apps stack up against what your requirement needs are. By building an application scorecard against the criteria that’s important to you, you can illuminate where the application(s) support your needs well and where they fall short.
  6. Know the value of a CMS before you select one. The value of a CMS is measured by the cash flows it generates. Build a business case through an ROI model that measures the cash flows for CMS costs and CMS benefits. Costs can be measured by software costs, hardware costs and labor costs. Similarly, benefits can be measured by cost savings, productivity gains and revenue boosts. By building the business case and ROI model, you can determine if the CMS project should be undertaken or if its costs are too excessive over the expected life of the application and exceed acceptable thresholds.
  7. Gain executive sponsorship. Obtaining executive buy-in and sponsorship is critical to achieving success for a CMS project. Executive sponsorship provides credibility for the project and serves as a decision maker to resolve issues that may surface during the life of the CMS project. Executive sponsorship can also help in setting project direction, pushing the project along, expediting decision quandaries and project impediments, and providing leadership in times of disarray.