Do You Really Need a CMS?
(Techs and Balances)
Off the top of your head, what are the two most important (and often overlooked) considerations when answering the question, “Do I really Need a CMS?” In my experience, they are:
- Will there be a positive ROI?
- Is your organization ready for a CMS?
If you think you need a CMS, you probably fall into one of these categories:
- You’re launching a new website
- you have a site with lots of pages that needs to be managed
- your vendor is recommending it
- your CTO says you need to have one
There are hundreds of articles to help guide you in evaluating whether these reasons, or others, make you a good candidate for a CMS. (I’ve put a few links at the bottom of this blog that can help you if you’re interested.)
However, if you are considering implementing a CMS, the most important business question to answer is:
Content Management Systems range in price from free, to hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, in addition to the software cost, you’ll need to pay for some, or all, of the following:
- The hardware to run the CMS (even if you already have the equipment in-house, there’s still the opportunity cost of using the hardware and the cost of its upkeep)
- The setup and installation of the CMS (these are often separate from the cost of the software itself)
- Any customization you’ll require(this is typically a very large cost in CMS implementations)
- Its ongoing maintenance(which may include software licensing fees, as well as internal or external IT costs)
The return on this investment will be organizational benefits which may include some, or all, of the following:
- Website content will not queue up at an IT desk or with a contracted Web development company
- Content authors will no longer need to know HTML
- Multiple content authors can perform simultaneous work at any time – day or night
- Content will be published more quickly and efficiently
- Content approvals, edits, version control, and publishing will all be automated and more resilient under the weight of any organizational growth
- The look and feel of published pages will have greater consistency; your brand will have visual integrity
- Users can personalize their experience of your website, typically focusing on the types of content displayed
Some of these benefits will generate a savings, primarily based on decreased labor costs. It’s this decrease in labor costs which (along with the subjective benefits of an increase in goodwill within your organization and an increase in positive perception outside your organization) that must be considered against the cost of implementing a CMS to effectively calculate the ROI.
Now, if you believe there’s a positive ROI, the next most important question to answer is:
There are a few things that you should consider in this regard.
- First, you need to ensure that your organization’s content publishing workflow is well-documented and clear. Implementing a CMS with poorly documented systems will only serve to exasperate the existing inefficiencies. Don’t do it!
- Next, if appropriate, your organization must be technologically capable of supporting a new CMS. While IT may no longer be publishing content, they will need to support the new authors, editors, publishers, and administrators.
- Finally, you must consider how well your organization will react and adapt to this change. In most circumstances, organizational change is arduous and is often met with great resistance — people are afraid of losing their jobs and the like. This type of change will likely need a great amount of top-level support, direction, dedication, and commitment. You need to ask whether your organization can provide that (and, remember to include these costs back in your ROI calculation).
Given the stats, more and more organizations are choosing to set up a CMS. But, with the messes I’ve helped clean up over the years and horror stories that I’ve heard from colleagues and clients about CMS implementations, I wonder how many of them have done their business technology due diligence.
Have you? Tell me about it; I’d love to hear about your experience.