5 questions to ask before selecting a Web CMS

As content management systems largely remain the de-facto digital platform for most large and complex organisations, selecting the right one for your organisation is a critical decision. The new system should ideally last for several years to come, but how do you find the best one?

Analysts crown vendors as winners and losers in the Web CMS market, but it is still a crowded and confusing marketplace for buyers. Typically you are not just selecting a new tool, you also have to factor in important aspects such as references, community, roadmap and support.

5 key CMS selection questions

To help you find the perfect CMS for your organisation, I’ve shared extensively throughout the years on the art and science of selecting the right CMS as well as the future of CMS.

An important part of the process is to ask the right questions to make progress on CMS selection:

  • Budget; how much should the project cost? If your last CMS selection lies a few years back and you are using a CMS crowned by analysts as a leader, you are probably spending too much. Make sure to leave your tender open so that you can get competitive proposals with an attractive price
  • Decision; do you want to make the decision itself or leave it with the digital agency? Unless you have in-house IT resources to commit to the project, we usually recommend that you look for both system integrator as well as new CMS vendor in one joint process. If for example you ask a boutique Kentico partner they are likely to also propose Kentico, but many agencies and system integrators work with multiple systems.
  • Open source; are you ready to consider open source? It continues to surprise me how many organisations are ignoring open source when looking for Web CMS. Most analysts ignore it; what are your good reasons?
  • Implementation; who will do the implementation? Don’t select a tool before deciding who will actually implement it. Are you looking for someone local? Do you want agency or system integrator? Not thinking about implementation up-front is a good way to set yourself up for failure.
  • System; why don’t we just use Drupal? This inevitable question comes up from time to time as one developer on your team might claim to know a given CMS inside out. Tempting as it might seem, is it indeed a sensible decision?

Look beyond the system for CMS success

As you might have noticed, these key questions are not directly tied to how eZ support multi-language or how Magnolia does mobile sites or anything else specific to the features of a given CMS. Those are all valid questions as well, but if you don’t want your CMS selection to drag on in an ever-changing marketplace, you should start with some other key questions.

Today most organisations are into their second or third content management system and some are even running multiple systems within their organisation. Good answers to the key questions will act as decision-support along the way and ensure that you don’t get blinded by hype and marketing, but rather gets you on the right track to a successful CMS selection followed by the smooth implementation we all dream of.

2 thoughts on “5 questions to ask before selecting a Web CMS

  1. While I basically agree I’m missing the very first question: Do I really need a new CMS, or would upgrading / refactoring the current system do the job (to adapt to the new demand)?
    Frankly speaking I sometimes suspect, that the change is more driven by ‘political’ reasons than technical ones.

  2. I totally agree with you on these criteria in general.

    Unfortunately, what i see in the real world, especially in Germany, is a flawed evaluation approach.

    – Tickin’ feature boxes is still the usual way, but it doesn’t solve any real world problems.
    – Integration and the quality of implementation is much more crucial for the success of a CMS project.

    Bernd has a good point, because implementation is more important than the system, but i think, at least on the German market, decision makers should be braver and more open to new approaches. A lot of companies just stick with the same ol’ systems, because their fear of uncertainty. I totally understand this view, even though i think a lot of opportunities for innovation and success are missed,

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