How to find a new CMS
How do you find a new content management system that takes into account every essential fact and interest?
So you have come to realize that your CMS is plagued by slow workflows, low flexibility, and little to no support for neither today’s nor tomorrow’s tech.
By discovering that it’s time to change your CMS, you have come a long way already! But how exactly do you go about finding the best CMS? Today we are going to unearth just that.
Unsure of what to look for in a new CMS? We have made you a nifty checklist:
Public or private?
First things first. What type of organization you work for will impact the “how” in the complex equation of acquiring a new content management system. For instance, public versus private companies have different processes in regard to procurement—the former might have a more formal and rigid procedure while the latter may be somewhat freer in form.
In any case, you have to relate to any current regulations and procedures, either public or private (or both).
Involve your internal stakeholders
As always, make sure you involve every relevant stakeholder internally in your organization. Bringing everybody onboard will ensure that they feel included and relied upon, as well as giving you a smoother road towards the end goal. Who knows—maybe some of your stakeholders might give you excellent tips and suggestions as well.
In a project to find a new CMS you may include a decision maker from the upper rungs of your organization, someone responsible for the IT, and the head of marketing/web editor—you know, the ones who are actually going to be working in your chosen CMS. Keep in mind that many stakeholders increase the complexity of the project.
Map your needs and goals
Ask your IT department to discover what technical requirements a future CMS should fulfill. This will probably be influenced by several factors, like company infrastructure, legacy system migration, safety and risk concerns, etc.
Together with the C-suite, sales, and marketing departments you will most likely receive inputs for essential features of a CMS to help boost conversions and sales. Write down these notes to keep them in mind when looking for features like a landing page editor, the possibility for system integrations and so forth. Finally, make a timeline for the project and implementation. This way, you will inform your stakeholders of the entire process and keeping tabs on your deadlines and progress.
Get a budget approved
You can dream of having a golden mansion in the hills overlooking the ocean, but daydreams will seldom help you in reality. The same principle applies to the world of marketing and digital experiences. So instead of wondering what price level you can relate to—go straight to the decision makers and get a budget approved.
A fixed budget will allow you to plan accordingly and lend a spirit of long term foreseeability to the project. A budget will also give you some constraints which might help fuel your creativity in overcoming the obstacles.
Align your needs with the CMS offerings
By now you have your stakeholders, needs, goals, and budget in place. You have a rough idea of what the dream solution might look like, and now it’s time to delve deep into the seemingly confusing and advanced world of CMS.
There are several different types of CMS: headless, traditional, and more. Adding to this formula there are closed source versus open source—and we have the even larger and complex offering delivered through a digital experience platform (DXP).
Research the different types, think about what you really need, ask your IT experts, and then move forward.
Research possible vendors
Each type of CMS solution is offered by several vendors, and these need researching as well. Compile a longlist and a shortlist—with the former including all manner of vendors, while the latter includes the most relevant ones for your organization as judged by you according to the requirements you have laid down before.
While you’re at it, read reviews from Gartner or CMS Critic, or google it. Assess a given solution and the team behind it too, if you need external resources. Also have a plan for a contract and negotiation with your vendor of choice.
Proof of concept
A proof of concept is a tangible way of showing your stakeholders what a solution might look or function like in the end. To achieve this, you can contact and involve the vendor in asking for a test run or a demo request.
However, if the solution is open source, you can let your in-house developers or an external agency/vendor do test runs for a couple of days or so for each solution. This way, the developers teach themselves the solution, and learn of advantages and disadvantages in an effective and low-cost way.
When participating in the quest for a new CMS, there are several factors to consider, sometimes conflicting ones at that. One ability is of exquisite importance in this matter: having patience.
Find out what you really need, examine the different CMSs out there, read reviews, and do test runs with your developers. Remember, this is a solution you must probably live with for the next 5–10 years, so be sure to choose wisely.
When all is said and done—do decide what you will choose and go for it! Good luck!
First published 15 October 2018, updated 8 August 2022.