Find Which CMS Fits by Asking the Right Questions

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Choosing the right CMS for your organization is one of the biggest questions plaguing marketers today. There are legacy solutions that are shifting to the cloud and promising the moon. There are headless solutions that offer lots of flexibility, but that can be a real pain in the neck. And there are Web CMS solutions that aim to bridge the gap.

After many years in this business, my experience says that most organizations that take their marketing seriously are going to need a few things to ensure cost efficacy, efficiency and scalability. This often translates to headless capabilities, a presentation layer and global availability. While this works for the majority of modern companies, I recommend doing some work to get to the root of what your business really needs and why.

To get started, I’d like to pose a few questions to help you determine what your main goals are, both from marketing and IT perspectives. From there, you will be able to extrapolate what features would best help you accomplish these goals. Here goes (and remember to answer honestly):

– What are your company’s overall goals and marketing strategy?
– Does your company need to support multiple sites or channels to execute that strategy?
– How quickly will you need to be able to modify existing sites or launch entirely new ones?
– What is the current relationship between marketing and IT, and what should it look like?
– What lack of features, IT configurations or other factors is currently bottlenecking the team’s progress in executing a strategy?

Can you tell how important the relationship is between marketing and IT in making this decision? The way priorities mesh (or don’t) will go a long way in determining not only what you would like to purchase/use but also what is realistic over the short, mid and long term.

Keep in mind that independent organizations and vendors offer complimentary impact appraisals, working with you one-on-one to define your digital business goals and support you through the evaluation process. They will help you make assessments on choosing the best next-generation content management system for your business.

That said, it’s important to take one more step on your own to consider how your employees will be using the tool you ultimately decide on. Ask vendors smart questions to get beyond sales-speak. For example, my list includes:

– Is the platform easily scalable, or does it require IT to manage?
– Is there a possibility you could outgrow a vendor? Project that timeline.
– Does the vendor’s feature list fully support execution on your strategy?
– How quickly will you be able to migrate existing sites or launch new sites?
– Do you need omnichannel capabilities, including websites, mobile apps and internet of things, for your marketing?

Evaluating every vendor based on the same subset of questions also makes it far easier to compare your options.

Then take a step back. You’ve been looking at a lot of information that on its own sounds fantastic, but most of these solutions in the context of your specific needs will be less than perfect. Forget bells and whistles for a second. Forget numbers. Instead, refocus your mind on what your organization’s goals are now and will be in the future. Investing in future-proof software that will not shackle your organization as it scales is key to making the right decision, and that makes everyone happy. It sounds near impossible, but it is not.

If you’ve accurately assessed your needs and evaluated vendors based on the same set of smart questions throughout the process, the answer will appear pretty quickly and clearly — and you and your team will be glad you put in the effort to get there.

As first published in MarTech Advisor.

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