Selecting a CMS is easy

CMS Selection MonstersOrganizations often believe picking the right CMS is a difficult decision. This couldn’t be further from the truth—selecting a CMS is the easy part. It’s everything else that is hard.

Yes, it’s a decision that can require an assist from some specialized expertise. After all, who—besides consultants and analysts—has time to keep tabs on all the different platform roadmaps, capabilities, vendor financials, and partner ecosystems?

Truth be told, we can usually size up a CMS platform fit quickly and point an organization toward a few very viable solutions. Yet, over and over, we see long drawn out CMS selection processes with detailed RFPs, short lists that aren’t short, and time wasted in all the wrong areas. (Hello cart, meet horse.)

Some people believe this is simply how one procures enterprise software. Other times, external consultants encourage the behavior by starting with the hundreds of potential CMS platforms out there. The reality is there are fewer and fewer credible enterprise CMS options these days, as vendors merge, markets mature, and lines get drawn on fit, price, and technologies.

We’ve written about this CMS selection myth before, as well as the real reasons people hate their CMS. Most people realize it’s not all about the technology, but somehow that’s still what gets the most focus. Everyone wants to help you pick a CMS (just Google it), but there’s a much shorter line of folks ready to help you ask and answer the hard questions necessary to successfully approach CMS as a discipline.

A CMS selection process is still necessary of course.

We have our own approach, which educates organizations on our seven fit factors and helps frame the decision in the larger context of an overall CMS roadmap, marketing technology ecosystem, content strategy, internal staffing, and governance.

This method of selecting a CMS is less about pitting potential vendors against each other in an RFP battle royale (which still happens a lot) and more about being educated on the landscape and getting organizational buy-in for the real change that needs to happen to support a new platform and publishing approach.

Many delight in using the process to force vendors to jump through hoops, do unpaid proofs of concepts, and slash pricing at the end of the quarter. However, those perceived license savings are minuscule compared to the opportunity costs of not setting the platform you select up for success.

I am shocked at the number of organizations that still sign on the dotted line (and pay for) the CMS licensing without any plan, budget, or roadmap for how to make it successful.

I’m wicked excited to be leading a workshop on CMS Selection at Confab Intensive this fall in Portland, Oregon. My session, CMS selection: Getting beyond the bells and whistles to what really matters, will certainly spend some time on the vendor landscape and how to avoid picking a lemon.

More importantly, I’ll be sharing our frameworks and approach on how to get your organization in the right mindset to make the change, how to set proper expectations during the process, and connect it to a larger experience and content strategy.

If you can’t join me in Portland for the workshop, feel free to drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to try and quickly point you in the right direction for a CMS platform. However, a word of warning: It’s been implied I’m the worst CMS salesperson in the world, so don’t plan on breaking out the checkbook on the first call.

About the Author
Jeff Cram

Jeff Cram is Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design), a digital agency based in Portland, OR and Boston, MA. As the Managing Editor of the CMS Myth, Jeff is passionate about all topics related to content management, digital strategy and experience design.

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