In CMS agency search, are you commodity shopper or strategic investor?

The web content management consulting game can be rough and tumble for both the CMS service provider and client.  Speaking from an agency perspective, we see two very different types of organizations seeking CMS services – let’s call them the commodity shopper and the strategic investor.

If it sounds as if it’s all about price, it’s not.

We often ask: Where does your organization place value in obtaining outside help? Do you prefer someone who can get the job done -stat! – or an agency that will challenge assumptions and make strategic recommendations along the way to help create a better site and overall user experience?

First, it’s important to know there isn’t a wrong answer.

However, understanding your approach to CMS initiatives is critical BEFORE you decide on an agency partner, both for successful relationships and project outcomes.  It’s important to align with a partner who fits your organization’s mindset.

What do we mean?

Readers of the CMS Myth know there are a boatload of challenging issues facing any organization seeking a CMS partner.

Just look at the pool of agency candidates— it’s deep, broad, and can be extremely confusing. Do you go with a big, strategic minded web/CMS agency? Little tactical shop that can just get it done technically? A jack-of-all-(interactive)-trades consultancy that can help with planning, strategy, design, CMS dev and web marketing? The two-person IT agency across town? Or a specialist firm fluent in all the ins and outs of the specific CMS you want to use?

The many questions facing your organization can help determine whether you’re a tactical or strategic CMS client. Is your organization built to tackle a full website and CMS project? Or do you have a few good people but need strategic oversight and advice? Or at the extreme, are your developers averse to anyone outside their ranks offering help?

Your need for speed can also be a guide. Agencies can get it done well and in due time … or quick and dirty. So can your team. Commodity services? Strategic thinking? You’ve got plenty to think about.

For their part, agencies love to achieve a mind-meld when it comes to a client’s CMS and website project. Most don’t want to end up in a bad client relationship where core philosophies and ideas clash mid-project. Agencies that DO offer strategic depth want the leeway to bring forward ideas and advice, not just execute to a ‘T’ the plan you have in mind.

Speaking of your projects and plans, it may be very useful to measure your plans and expectations against our three types of web content management projects, defined in a previous CMS Myth post.  Generally we see projects falling into one of these categories. Note the time vs. cost, strategic vs. tactical trade offs in each:

  • The Technical Migration
  • The Visual Redesign
  • The Strategic Redesign

Like we say, there are no wrong answers here with your choices. In reality, it may take you some time and a few false starts to find your comfort zone in making a decision. But keeping the question in mind  — and helping your organization identify its preferences as you wade into the CMS agency pool —  will help  immeasurably.

About the Author
David Aponovich

A former 'CMS Insider,' David is relentlessly focused on the gap between vendor speak and customer adoption. In addition to keeping a keen eye on industry trends, he works with clients on the cultural and process implications of CMS that are so often overlooked. David wrote for the CMS Myth during his time working at Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design).

More articles from David Aponovich

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