While selecting a content management system, most buyers tend to focus on tangible functional requirements, such as editorial usability, multi-language, multi-site and high performance. A few also consider vendor finances and whether the vendor has an office nearby, but very few buyers take the time to evaluate the valuable vendor eco-system of successful references, developer network and partner channels.
References is a key ingredient when assessing whether there is a viable community as these add experience and can share the hard lessons learned. Unfortunately I too often meet WCM buyers who did not take the time to talk to references before they selected a CMS. Many are subsequently caught by surprises they could easily have avoided by speaking to other customers. We have shared a few case studies on our blog, e.g. on how Danish Rail use EPiServer for their website and keep SharePoint behind the firewall or DIY SharePoint as a local council.
An active developer network is something only very few web content management vendors have. The few that alive ones tend to be full of hidden gems. On one side, the big vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have massive and overwhelming developer offerings, while many of the dedicated WCM vendors, such as Alterian and FatWire have very little. Developers are the real key to success as I wrote recently, but few WCM vendors have managed to make their developer communities come alive and be accessible.
Partners can be tricky for a buyer. You might see claims such as EPiServer with 30+ new partners in the US in the last 12 months or Sitecore with a 100+ long listing of US partners on their website, but how many of these are really active and experienced with more than one successful project under their belts? System integrators can take all the money in the project and you are left with the bill.
On Wednesday May 5th in Philadelphia, you can attend the web content management track and join the final session for a panel discussion on whether the community might be more important than the CMS? The 3 experienced panelists are:
- Nathan Bittinger, technical director at Siteworx, a US interactive agency
- Niels Hartvig, founder of the open source Umbraco WCM project
- Tom Wentworth, VP Web Solutions at Ektron
I’ll moderate the panel and I’m hoping for a lively and constructive discussion. As always, feel free to post your comments below or follow the conversation on Twitter using #jboye10.