5 Don'ts When Selecting a CMS/WCM

Oshyn has helped many companies select their CMS/WCM over the years. After all the best practices and advice we've published on this topic, I thought we'd write a few anti-patterns for choosing and selecting a CMS/WCM.

Wrong way sign
[Photo courtesy of CarbonNYC on Flickr]

  1. Don't create a 100+ line spreadsheet of features that you want weighted and graded. This is a really common way of doing a selection. Typically, companies do this when they need justification for the package they already selected in order to get budget sign-off. The reason this breaks down is because the grading is essentially an opinion of the person who is doing the scoring. Invariably, the details are understood by very few in the organization, many times only one person, and the scoring ends up being a conscious or subconscious reflection of the package that the small group actually wants to win. It is a classic case of the tool ending up wagging the dog.

  2. Don't choose based on a 1 hour demo of the product from the sales person. If you've ever built software, you know that the 1 hour marketing demo of the product is always glossy and shiny. It will most likely ALWAYS work and will always show you the product in the absolute best light. The issue is that without some strategic questioning, you can't tell how much work was done to get the product from installation to what you are seeing. This is a major part of the cost of implementing. You may love what you see, but you need to understand how much effort it will take for you to replicate it for your business. And, in case you are wondering, asking "how long will it take me to do this?", will almost always result in an answer of "it's simple, you can do it very quickly as long as you get trained." The way to avoid this is to make sure you do a POC of the top products before purchasing. This will give you a much better idea of how difficult it will be for you to replicate the demo.

  3. Don't choose based on a handful of micro features, like:

    • I want it to help me with my search rankings
    • Can I have bifurcating workflow?

    A lot of times, customers will come and say one of these things in a sentence like "what is the best CMS/WCM if I need to improve my search rankings?". There are so many things wrong with this question, I don't even know where to begin. If you choose based on this, there are so many other aspects of the software that will impact your business in greater ways, that you will invariably choose the wrong product.

    You need to think of big functionality and groups of functionality that you need. For instance, "I need a package that is good at social media" or "I need a package that is good at ECommerce" or "I have lots of sites to manage, I need good tools to manage them all effectively".

  4. Don't assign a person from your team with no CMS or even worse, no web experience to manage the project. This is another one that happens all the time. A company wants to do a redesign and/or CMS implementation and assigns someone to run the project that doesn't have enough experience. This trickles down to poor decisions on the universe of packages to consider and the universe of service providers to consider. You need someone within your organization that knows what they are doing in order to be successful. Even if you hire an expert company like Oshyn to help you, they will need someone who is working internally who understands the process and challenges. Your chances of selecting the right vendors and partners and, subsequently, your chances of success will improve if you have knowledgeable staff on your team.

  5. Don't let just one person make the decision for your company. Sometimes it's an IT person with a preferences on a product, sometimes it's a marketing person, sometimes it's an executive. If a business needs to choose a new CMS/WCM, it is imperative to make the decision collectively (i.e. tech., marketing, and business) in order for the project to be successful. Companies who let one individual drive will invariably end up with the product that makes that person's job easier at the expense of the other constituents. The end result of including everyone is a higher adoption rate and greater long term success.

I don't think this is ALL the Don'ts, but it's a decent start of some of the more egregious ones that we've seen by companies trying to navigate these challenging initiatives.

Let me know some others that you've encountered!