Selecting a new content platform for your client or organization can be a tricky process. As a solution architect, there are several considerations you and the business and procurement teams must take into account when making this gargantuan decision.
Is the content platform agile? Can it be customized to different needs and use cases? Does it meet the editorial, workflow and usability requirements of the content team? Does it fit into your current technological architecture, skill sets, and legacy systems?
Cost and procurement should also be a priority; is the solution within budget and can you easily source it? Equally as important, is whether the new platform complies with any existing regulations—failing to adhere to law could prove costly down the line.
Having a resource guide at hand to check these conditions against is useful in avoiding any potential issues and to ensure a best possible process for you and your team. Content platforms are an integral part of any software architecture and thus will play an important role in its success—selecting the right one is therefore paramount.
Enonic has over 20 years of experience in the content management industry, and after countless meetings, talks, and interviews with advisors, solution architects, and similar key personnel of any larger digital undertaking, we have gathered their collective wisdom in this guide. Enjoy!
This guide is designed to assist you at each stage in the process of choosing a new digital platform. So, whether you are just starting out or are on the verge of deciding a vendor, this guide can help with pertinent questions and action reminders.
We have divided the guide into three main parts that reflect the procurement process:
If you don’t know which stage you are currently in, just start reading the questions in one of the parts. You are bound to identify whether you have already been at this point, if it’s above your head, or if it’s just the perfect spot.
In this stage of becoming aware of the challenges of your organization and the potential alternatives, you might recognize the following goals:
These goals often come from a renewal of the company’s digital strategy. To support specific business goals, you may need to change your tech stack to support the buyer’s journey better, move to a headless architecture, adapt a long-term structured content strategy, and more.
Your current CMS may be expensive, outdated and doesn’t support your digital strategy properly. Other common issues include:
The bottom line is that you need to find a future proof platform that you can trust will support the digital strategy of your organization for years.
You might already be pressured by stakeholders about changing the CMS or the digital platform because it’s cumbersome and time-consuming to work with. Therefore, keep it cool and have a clear course on what you are going to do now.
Here are some suggestions to actions you can perform to increase your awareness of your organization’s central challenges and move further along the funnel:
Have a talk with the agency or management consultants that are creating the new digital strategy of your organization or client.
Search on the Internet, read up on the topics, ask ChatGPT, check vendors, and talk to your network (even by asking on LinkedIn!) to find out how they have solved similar challenges.
Have a meeting with your development team and other business stakeholders, including marketing and your content team, about their issues and visions forward.
It’s OK if you feel overwhelmed. You need to figure out how you can move forward and zoom in on different possible solutions.
There is a lot of information to cope with and a lot of possible vendors to look into and you need to find a future proof platform.
In the awareness stage, you will compile a longlist of potential vendors suitable for delivering the new content platform for your client or organization.
Make sure they know you have certain expectations in how to be guided further along the funnel. The vendors should:
Here are some more questions in the awareness stage you can use to further build up your business case:
When you have begun to consider alternatives, the following goals may now be on the top of your mind:
There might be many issues to consider, but here are three common:
Now that you are well underway in the process of choosing a new content platform, it is time to roll up your sleeves and do some meaningful and impactful work.
You should map out needs and requirements across the various departments and stakeholders across your organization to start the usually comprehensive RFP process.
Also, ask around in your network for references about the different vendors—people may have more information than you think!
When it is time to really do your homework, sit down and read software reports to research differences. Examples of such analyst reports include Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, as well as review services like G2 and SoftwareReviews.
It is no shame to receive assistance, so consider bringing in an external contractor to help with the evaluation. After all, they are experts in exactly such matters as lengthy and complex procurement processes of equally complex digital platforms.
And then an important step: create a dedicated project team and set up a realistic, albeit rudimental timeline for the project.
Then it is time to identify a longlist of vendors, possibly together with your contractor and team—based on all your hitherto acquired knowledge and experience.
Finally, you should communicate with the potential vendors and do a preliminary PoC.
You are now most likely focused on making sure that the needs of all stakeholders are taken into consideration, while you are still concerned with meeting the deadline for the project.
Take a breather and know that you are not alone in this situation. Make the fullest use of this guide which is compiled with the knowledge of your colleagues in similar situations.
The vendors should help you understand how they stand out from the competition, through PoC, personal demos, videos, and articles on their site.
The vendors should show:
Also, make sure to conduct a proper PoC, as this is an invaluable tool in doing real-world work within the actual platform. Then you should highlight the need for looking at the developer experience—and not primarily editors—as development is the biggest cost.
The vendors should quickly respond to RFIs and any other questions you or your team might have. They also ought to provide content to support your evaluation—both on the evaluation process as such and on their product as a platform. This can for instance be in the form of relevant case studies.
In this third and final phase of choosing a new digital platform, the answer to what you are trying to accomplish is of course given: you are trying to decide on which digital platform to purchase.
But this is not all. You also want to:
You are close to the finish line, but the hardest battle still remains. Here are several pain points experienced by other advisors and solution architects facing similar challenges:
It might be tempting to relax so close to the decision, but now you must do the toughest work yet.
Have meetings with internal stakeholders to make sure all needs are covered—especially development, the content team and marketing.
Have close dialogue with the vendors and ask questions, before testing the platform with a PoC or a demo.
Talk to the legal department of your organization about contractual matters and compliance.
At this crucial stage, it is no wonder if you are somewhat anxious about taking a decision. It has to be the right one, as it has a lot of impact on both colleagues and on the business.
In these final days, don’t forget to focus on getting the full overview!
If a platform is a top alternative, it is wise to arrange a meeting with the vendor to ensure you consider all important factors—and get help to obtain the full overview you need.
In this decision phase, the vendors should:
In conclusion, solution architects, business, and procurement have a lot to consider when choosing a new content platform. You must evaluate the platform's capabilities and limitations, consider its integration with existing systems, and assess its security and scalability.
Additionally, you should consider the support and resources provided by the platform's vendor, as well as its cost and potential return on investment.
Ultimately, the right platform will depend on the specific needs and goals of your organization. By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that will support the success of your digital initiatives.