In 2010 American enterprise Darden Restaurants selected and implemented a new CMS. An interesting process, so I caught Darden's Director of Interactive Marketing, Michael Friedman to hear how they did it. Darden owns and operates around 1,800 restaurants and employs approximately 180,000 people. The business is divided into 6 different brands, so when they set out to find a new CMS, it was important to find one that was future-proof, scaleable and suitable for their distributed organisation.
The background for the change was that they were 'stuck' on a dated Interwoven TeamSite solution, which they had never been sufficiently staffed to support. Thus, the user interface was never intuitive and new functionality was heavy to develop. So, back in 2007 Darden embarked on the journey to find a replacement.
With an internal .NET framework in place within the organisation, .NET was a definite requirement. Moreover, they made a list of requirements gathered from IT, local editors and marketing and started to look at several .NET solutions. They made a short list of 5-6 different platforms, and through thorough evaluations and with advice from their different digital agency partners the list was narrowed down to Ektron and Sitecore.
Next step was to bring the vendors in to demo the products. Darden even visited the vendors and looked at their partnerships, how they work with clients, road maps and other intangibles. Finally, after a close race Ektron was selected and the implementation process could start with a plan to move 15 sites and microsites in 9 months. Unlike some other .NET CMS-vendors (e.g. EPiServer and Sitecore), Ektron also does professional services, and they were involved in the implementation phase together with one of Darden's digital agencies BGT Partners.
As this case demonstrates, due diligence is important in order to ensure success. In a complex organisation with multiple internal and external stakeholders, it can be hard to find a platform that suits every requirement. In those cases - as in most others - it is better to focus on a few key requirements and instead spend the effort on finding a vendor that is capable of getting to understand your business and is able to "read between the lines".
If you want to learn more about CMS selection, have a look at our report Best Practices for Selecting a CMS or read all our posts on CMS selection. You are also very welcome to reach out to hear more about our independent CMS selection advice. Thanks to Michael Friedman from Darden Restaurants for sharing their experiences!