What should enterprises keep in mind while evaluating CMS solutions?

Content-centric solutions have been steadily rising across all industries over the past decade to consistently deliver top-notch and high-quality digital experiences to their customers. Many enterprises are wizards in their respective fields, but there lies a question as to how many of them understand the fundamental importance of adoption of the right technology to deliver the right content in a brilliant digital experience. Content Management Systems (CMS) have evolved tremendously over the last decade and this evolution has created a large number of choices for enterprises and naturally a more complex selection process.

As someone who has been on the helping end of dozens of CMS selection processes, I can attest to how complex and involved this process can get. Although no two engagements are completely alike, most of the selection processes span an average of 2 to 6 weeks. The shorter engagements, those lasting only 2 weeks, usually focus on the bare essentials of determining factors and are only made possible with a mature list of requirements. A more common type of selection process is one that lasts 4 to 6 weeks. Typically such engagements involve a requirement refining exercise – taking business requirements and mapping them into CMS relevant parameters. Another phase in those long engagements is grading an initial list of potential vendors on those requirements and finally bringing a definitive (much smaller) list of vendors in for a demo of their product. After the demo, it is usually clear which vendor should be selected.

For these types of selection processes, it is highly recommended to engage the services of a partner that has knowledge of how to run this process as well as the vendors themselves. If you ask each vendor to “grade” their product against a list of requirements, you will be pressed to find any grade themselves below 10/10. Another consideration a partner should give in this grading phase is that not all requirements are created equal. This is precisely why I personally like to base my grading on both the strength of that product with this requirement and the value of this requirement to the client.

Much of the selection process should be a trivial exercise – with the help of a knowledgeable partner. The one complex part of this process that I caution against is understanding how to map business requirements to CMS parameters and ultimately prioritize them accordingly. It is common knowledge that popular criteria and selection parameters include license cost (although it takes a bit more expertise to find out complete cost of ownership), analytics, social media integration, omnichannel delivery, etc. However, I usually find it more common to ignore a critical (not too popular) list of parameters, such as:

A good partner will focus the engagement and deliver the best recommendation by helping the client understand their own requirements and mapping those into a CMS set of required features. It is also expected from a good partner to help the client from obstructing their own process by focusing on the wrong (insignificant) criteria and ignoring those features that are in fact differentiators. In the end, when making this type of decision for your organization that will impact your Web and Marketing departments for five years or more, I always recommend having an expert on your side.

Ali A. Alkhafaji

Director of Technology, CEM and Mobile North America Practice Head (Insurance & Healthcare), Virtusa. Ali has been working in the Customer Experience Management world for over 10 years, where he has developed a breadth of knowledge and experience in WCM, Mobile, Social, Digital, Marketing, eCommerce, Portal, Document Management and UX technologies. Recently, Ali has focused on the Insurance and Healthcare industries, his clients include Fortune 500 companies. His responsibilities range from business development, workshops, product selection and partner strategies to technical oversight and delivering creative solutions. He has also started a number of Virtusa initiatives that focus on enhancing and accelerating implementations while serving as true Virtusa differentiators. On the academic end, Ali has spent the past 8 years teaching and conducting research. Currently, Ali is finalizing his PhD dissertation on Artificial Intelligence at DePaul University.

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