Sitecore Audit: How to Get It Right
What is a Sitecore audit, and does your business need one? Learn how a Sitecore audit can help fix performance issues and improve your Sitecore environment.
It’s a fact that legacy CMSs aren’t going to help you disrupt your competition in the era of omnichannel digital experiences. However, investing in a modern DXP like Sitecore without the proper guidance might end up doing more harm than good because, when improperly implemented, content management systems like Sitecore might end up underperforming.
To avoid that, you not only need to have a well-thought-out strategy; you need a robust, working solution that integrates every piece of the puzzle. It doesn’t matter how carefully you designed your website; poor execution can lead to downtime and missed opportunities.
However, while many Sitecore partners offer audits to help reduce the chances of a shoddy implementation, not all audits are created equal, and you can get an incorrect diagnosis that leaves your website in an even more delicate position.
At Oshyn, we make sure that your Sitecore implementation works the way it should. That’s why we created a technical audit for Sitecore that gives CIOs and senior IT professionals an in-depth analysis of their current implementation and a roadmap for how to improve it.
Let’s dive deep into what makes an excellent Sitecore technical audit.
What Is a Sitecore Audit?
A Sitecore Implementation Audit is a comprehensive technical assessment of your existing Sitecore implementation. It should be conducted by a team of Sitecore certified developers, support engineers, and architects who have dedicated their careers to being Sitecore experts and have been exclusively focused on this one platform for a decade or more. They should have a formal process and protocol they follow. They should also have numerous Sitecore audits under their belt and plenty of examples to share with you.
Oshyn’s audit includes a document with technical and architectural recommendations as well as best practices. The Sitecore technical audit consists of a review of your website and its network architecture that looks for flaws and areas of improvement as well as the authoring and publishing process and any third-party apps that you might be using.
Sitecore audits are only useful when they’re designed to help everyone take stock before making important decisions. The deliverables should be produced and delivered in a way that gives the C-Suite a high-level overview—while at the same time allowing the more technical members of your team to dive deep into the weeds about the findings and recommendations.
An audit should propose detailed corrective actions that must (or should) be taken to prepare for further integration, feature enablement, enhancements, performance tuning, and upgrades.
An audit should give everyone a clear, outside, and objective perspective on the overall quality of work of your Sitecore implementation, how well it adheres to best practices, and how it could be improved to better serve your business needs.
At this point, you might be asking yourself. Do I need a technical audit for Sitecore?
Telltale Signs You Need a Technical CMS Audit
Like cars and almost everything in the world, websites and apps eventually show signs of age and start failing. That’s part of its lifecycle, and it can’t be entirely avoided. But you can learn how to spot the signs and get ready for some maintenance if necessary.
Here are some signs that your implementation needs a technical audit:
You Decided to Switch to a Different Implementation Partner
Maybe you hired Agency X, a Sitecore Platinum Partner, but for some reasons, things didn’t really work out, and they didn’t do the stellar job they had promised. If that’s the case, you need to know the problems with your site before turning to another partner. What did the previous agency do wrong? How can you fix it? And what are the next steps to move on from your previous partner?
You Haven’t Had an Update In a Long Time
In this case, a Sitecore audit is like a visit to the doctor. A technical audit should be part of your maintenance and upgrade strategy if you want to maximize the benefits of your Sitecore implementation. In our experience, we recommend performing a Sitecore audit every couple of years or when you start to feel that your implementation doesn’t run as smoothly as it once did.
You Aren’t Leveraging Sitecore’s Full Capabilities
If you decided to use Sitecore, it’s because you want to leverage 100% of its capabilities. However, chances are that it hasn’t happened yet, which is why a Sitecore technical audit can help pinpoint the reasons why you haven’t leveraged your implementation to the fullest. A technical audit uncovers whether your implementation was built to leverage the functionalities you need and gauge the level of effort required to implement it.
You want to supplement your internal team’s Sitecore knowledge with outside expertise
Finally, some clients have implemented or prefer to support Sitecore internally, but they’ve come to the realization that it would be really beneficial to have an outside team of Sitecore experts to collaborate with, as they implement new features and functionality.
A Sitecore audit provides these teams deep insights into how to bring their implementation in line with modern best practices, while highlighting opportunities to optimize their implementation for better performance, easier upgrades, and seamless deployments.
Benefits Of a Sitecore Audit
Keep in mind that technical audits can be very helpful. They’re part of a proper implementation process, and without one, you might end up lost.
Also, technical audits are an excellent way for you to strike up a conversation with your Sitecore Partner and present a good starting point. A technical audit makes sure that your partner:
Gets a clear picture of your current implementation
Is ready to support your particular case and doesn’t try one-size-fits-all fixes
Can give you informed facts about what needs to be done in your implementation
You may already be convinced you need a Sitecore audit. Now, how do you convince the rest of your team, and more importantly, how do you convince your boss? Share these five undeniable benefits of a Sitecore audit with them.
1. More stable environment
A properly implemented Sitecore environment has fewer bugs and unpleasant surprises. A Sitecore audit is essential to ensuring that your Sitecore site meets that definition of proper implementation, by identifying sources of issues that create instability.
If your Sitecore partner finds any areas that affect the stability of your environment, they can be fixed and resolved now—instead of forcing you to rush to fix them when they pop up at an inopportune time in the future.
2. Better performance
An audit can also uncover problems with content setup, configuration issues that affect the speed of the Sitecore authoring environment, workflow issues that may delay getting content published, and gaps in knowledge.
By correcting configuration issues, reducing redundancy, adding in Sitecore caching, and making other incremental changes, you—and your visitors—will see a huge improvement in page speed and an overall boost in performance.
3. Seamless deployments
When your Sitecore site is built using Sitecore best practices, it runs smoother and more efficiently. There are no complicated workarounds to remember during deployments, because everything works together cohesively.
A well designed deployment process enables you to deploy code changes with zero downtime and without having to do it late at night or on the weekends.
By uncovering and fixing the configuration issues an audit identifies, your team can enjoy faster deployments in the future—with fewer headaches to boot.
4. Increased productivity
Your IT team won’t be the only ones enjoying increased efficiency. A Sitecore audit pinpoints areas where your implementation wasn’t set up properly to enable your marketers and content editors to do their jobs quickly and intuitively.
Once identified, the Sitecore partner will suggest fixes that can vastly improve the way they do their jobs. Your team can spend all the free time they get back on brainstorming new ways to boost your bottom line.
5. Long-term cost savings
When you have a Sitecore implementation that was implemented properly and things just work, everyone can get things done more quickly.
When your authoring environment is well designed, and your marketers and content managers can do their job efficiently, then you can hire fewer people. As for the people you do have, they can spend more time on activities that really move the needle.
When your implementation is designed and built with modularity in mind, you can reuse page layouts and modules on other sites and significantly reduce the cost of implementing additional sites.
When you configure your server environment properly and design a build and deploy process that follows best practices, deployments simply won’t require as many people and they will take a lot less time.
Of course, these are just a few of the many ways to save big dollars over the long-run, just by having a team of Sitecore experts take a peak under the hood.
How Oshyn Carries Out a Sitecore Technical Audit
A good technical audit starts with listening. Our process begins with hearing from every stakeholder to understand what the issues are with the site and implementation. That way, we understand how to properly focus the technical audit on the areas that can move your needle, starting with an interview by Oshyn’s team which results in a document with the state of your current Sitecore implementation.
The overall process we follow for a technical audit is:
- Understand the challenge
- Conduct automated analysis
- Apply qualitative analysis
- Consolidate findings
- Recommendations and next steps
Oshyn takes a comprehensive approach to the audit, checking the following four areas:
- Item Structure
- Layouts / CSHTML
- Under-utilized Features
.NET Project & C#
- Code Complexity
- Security / Vulnerabilities
- Development environments
- Code release
We check over a hundred different elements that fall into the following five categories:
- Best Practices
After we’ve completed the Sitecore Technical Audit, we include detailed action items for the development to start right away and improve your website. Also, we create management presentations that the C-suite can use to explain the current state of your implementation and the recommendations about what to do next.
All in all, if you suspect that your Sitecore implementation isn’t running optimally, an audit is the best and quickest way to improve your Sitecore Implementation.
If you want to read more about our Sitecore technical audit process, take a look at this article: Oshyn’s Sitecore Technical Audit Process.
Using an Audit to Improve Sitecore: Oshyn and Dole
Dole is the largest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world, operating with 74,300 full-time and seasonal employees who are responsible for over 300 products in 90 countries.
Dole had been using Sitecore in the past and had seen increased engagement and familiarity with Dole’s extensive product range, which prompted them to look for a partner who could guide them through the process of upgrading to Sitecore 9.
With that in mind, we conducted a Sitecore technical audit and subsequently built entirely new production and non-production environments using Microsoft Azure PaaS and Azure DevOps.
Thanks to the technical audit, Oshyn had the tools and the visibility to simplify, streamline, and improve the upgrade Dole’s existing deployment.
Beware: Not All Audits Are Created The Same
While many Sitecore partners offer audits, not all audits are the same. That means that you can run an audit and still not know where your implementation stands.
However, a proper technical audit for Sitecore starts with your Sitecore partner listening and with you being able to tell them more about your implementation. Without a conversation between you and your partner, you won’t get the most of your audit and won’t know where to move next.
At Oshyn, we aim at helping you implement Sitecore in such a way that it gives you the most of the tool. That’s why we created a technical audit for Sitecore that gives IT professionals deep insights into their current implementation as well as a roadmap that shows them how to squeeze the most of Sitecore.
Are you ready to kickstart your Sitecore implementation? Contact us, and let’s get started.