CMS expert Jon Marks trying to fix WCM at the J. Boye Aarhus 09 conference while Jarrod Gingras from Real Story Group listens carefully

Well, it is possible to select a content management system which does not meet your requirements and will be unsuitable for your organisation, but most significant systems in the market today are likely to meet between 80 – 90% of your requirements. Thus, the “wrong CMS” is almost an extinct species, but there are still plenty of poor integrators and bad implementations everywhere.

10 years ago when only few vendors supported certain features, e.g. workflow or Office integration, vendors could easily differentiate themselves on features, but today that is different. This has wide implications for your CMS selection process, where many buyers continue to invest substantial time in going through analyst reports and vendor sales pitches.

Instead of focusing exclusively on trying to identify the CMS with the most features, factors such as implementation methodology, implementation team and implementation time, references and price are the important elements that ought to help you decide which product will be right for you; the elements that can make a big difference for your project.

Even given that most content management systems will do just fine, you can still easily design the CMS selection process in such a way that your project is very likely to fail. As Danish Internet Entrepreneur, now
E-commerce manager at Bilka (Danish chain of hypermarkets) Hannu Vangsgaard elegantly put it in a tweet:

All CMS are wrong with the wrong approach and/or people

If you don’t manage to get the right skills and experience together, you will be in big trouble. Or, to turn it on its head: If you do indeed have the wrong CMS, but the right implementation team, then you will probably manage just fine.

CMS expert Jon Marks (former Lead Architect at News Corp and prior to that Head of Development at LBi as well as a speaker at past J. Boye conferences) also has a valid point in saying that some systems are just outdated or architecturally not a good fit (read his tweet for his blunt phrasing). As always, the devil is in the detail. While all significant vendors will confirm that they are able to meet every one of your requirements, there are substantial differences in how they do it. As an example, implementing a digital marketing campaign is quite different in Ektron vs. Sitecore. Also, all vendors will claim that their system is very easy to use, but take just 5 minutes to talk to customers of different systems and you’ll find major differences in adoption and training requirements from system to system.

My simple recommendation is to look beyond your functional requirements and focus your attention on finding the right implementation team. Why not let the system integrator decide for you? For a slightly cynical take on this, here’s how Benelux CMS guru Erik Hartman puts it in a tweet:

There are only two kinds of CMS: bad ones and lousy ones. Pick a bad one and find a good team of developers to fix it

Learn more about CMS selection

Continue the conversation in our CMS Expert Groups in Europe or North America.

Join the web content management track at our Aarhus conference in November, which is hosted by J. Boye expert Peter Sejersen.

Read our free report on Best Practices for Selecting a CMS.