A businesswoman and businessman stacking wood blocks in an office. - building a business plan concept

How to Build a Case for CMS Replatforming

5 minute read
Kaya Ismail avatar
Want a new CMS, but struggling to get buy-in internally? Here's how to convince stakeholders that a new CMS is the way to go.

Digital transformation, or better yet, digital innovation, is no mean feat when you’re dealing with a CMS that was built almost two decades ago. For many organizations, however, one of the greatest obstacles to digital transformation is getting stakeholders, the C-suite, and employees on board with the idea of uprooting the fundamental technology that the business relies upon digitally and embarking on a journey to adopt a new platform. That’s why, in our recent report, The State of Digital Customer Experience,  nearly a third of respondents stated that cross-departmental collaboration was one of the major hurdles to creating a digital workplace.

We’ve asked industry leaders what challenges businesses face when it comes to a CMS migration. The also shared the best ways to get buy-in to make it happen.

Common Technical Objections to Migration and Replatforming

According to Josh Koenig, co-founder, and head of product at Pantheon, technical and technology-based objections to a CMS migration or replatforming project come in two flavors:

  • “[Your stakeholders may object because of] underlying security or scalability concerns,” Koenig said.
  • “Or, because of unmet functional requirements. For example, the new CMS has to do it all — plus the kitchen sink.”

"Getting around these [is] twofold. For the former, disarm IT and InfoSec by making sure you're using a true cloud vendor, whether SaaS or PaaS. For the latter, build consensus around the ‘North Star’ Web KPI and build your case based around that. Get your CEO/CMO or head of sales aligned to that, and all other opposition will melt away,” Koenig said."

Related Article: 11 Rules for Selecting the Right Content Management System (CMS)

Common Non-Technical Objections to Migration and Replatforming

It’s easy to assume the primary challenges of migrating to a new CMS would be technical in nature, but we spoke to experts who shed some light on the nontechnical issues you can face when pitching a CMS migration or replatforming project. 

Getting Employees Up to Speed

Adopting a new CMS or nearly any other software solution often requires large amounts of training for employees to navigate the UI and perform basic functions, let alone truly take advantage of the new capabilities a platform has to offer. “The traditional approach to overcoming this requires time-consuming classroom or webinar sessions, or complex, tedious documentation and training manuals explaining how to navigate the new system,” said Nir Nahum, CTO at WalkMe. And this information quickly becomes outdated with each subsequent release of the software as well.

The problem with this approach is that much of what employees learn in the classroom may not be useful when actually working with the new CMS. “Some may sit in the classroom and not remember anything when they get back to their desks,” continued Nahum, “while others may think that they know better and won’t even bother to make the session.” Many CMS migrations fail, therefore, because organizations can never get the most out of the new systems to outweigh the costs.

Related Article: 24 Headless CMS That Should Be On Your Radar in 2019

Learning Opportunities

Changing Minds That Dislike Change

Besides getting employees familiar with the new technology, it can be difficult to get them to adopt a new way of doing things. “I think there are a number of different challenges around changing people's mindsets,” stated Tariq Khan, VP of consumer experience at Coty. Digital transformation requires more than just new technologies, but new business processes and workflows as well. The most smooth CMS migrations occur within organizations that have a culture that’s open to change. “While employees are inherently resistant to change,” Nahum explained, “the multigenerational workforce creates additional challenges, or what’s called digital dexterity.” 

He defines digital dexterity as the desire and ability of employees to embrace existing and emerging technologies to achieve better business outcomes. Today’s employees have varying degrees of tech-savvy and willingness to adopt new technology, so it can be challenging for organizations to get support from their employees when migrating to a new CMS.

How Can You Get Organizational Buy-In?

With the challenges largely related to employees, it’s critical to weigh the technological and customer experience benefits of a new CMS against the impact it will have on employee productivity and satisfaction. “Prioritizing digital employee experience and empowering employee engagement using digital assets directly relates to the business’ bottom line,” Nahum stated. He believes it’s crucial, therefore, that organizations consider how the CMS will impact employees before seeking buy-in from higher-ups. “In fact,” Nahum added,” employee experience and digital employee experience produce a metric that is the internal-facing equivalent of customer experience.”

Beyond the impact on employees, Khan suggests carefully considering what’s driving the desire for change. “Historically big organizations have had a competitive advantage due to their size and scale,” he explained, but companies today need to “adopt these agile and progressive technologies in order to compete against newer players coming into the market.” That’s because digital adaptability is crucial to minimize the need for massive CMS migrations as much as possible in the future.

Many organizations also have a disparate array of systems they’ve adopted over the years, and some may be shadow IT that’s used by certain teams or departments. Khan believes oftentimes the driver for CMS migration, therefore, is “to bring a lot of these technologies and different platforms together.” And that means support on the team and department level must come before buy-in at a higher level. Khan continued, “there's a lot of logistical work that needs doing, lots of different departments that need to be informed, and brought on the journey to move to this more progressive platform.”

In the end, it’s not just about the latest trends. “It's very important that we look at it as not just headless,” Khan concluded, “but the collection of different impressive technologies.” And beyond the technologies themselves, employees need to be ready for change.