Top 10 guidelines for selecting a WCMS

White Paper

In this paper, we take a look at ten things that significantly contribute to the successful procurement and implementation of a Content Management System (CMS). Digital marketers and communicators face increasingly complex issues when engaging with visitors. Customers have limited time so you need to distribute your message across multiple channels and it needs to be sharp, targeted and relevant. In our experience, great people, stakeholders and requirements – along with a flexible, easy-to-use technology platform – are the ten most important considerations of a successful CMS selection.

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1. Be inclusive of all of your stakeholders

A high-quality set of requirements differentiates the successful start of a WCMS selection and implementation product. These requirements accurately communicate your business requirements internally, to your potential business partners and to software vendors.

All too often, requirements are written from the perspective of a single business unit, in the hope that the resulting solution will fit, or can be imposed on, the rest of the organization.

Clear requirements form the basis of business relationships. An early investment in this area prevents delays that may occur if decisions are made during the process. The key to establishing an inclusive and complete set of requirements involves the early contribution of all stakeholder groups – a cross-section from all business areas impacted by the WCMS project.

Who can better describe a business pain or need than the actual individuals who will use the system and whose success rests on the best possible selection?

In addition, by giving stakeholders ownership of their requirements provides you with critical internal feedback as you seek clarification throughout the process, when you prioritize or when you need a business justification for an investment decision.

Stakeholder involvement continues to benefit the project as the continued success of your WCMS project depends on not just launching a shiny new website, but on continuing to hold the interest of your audience with fresh, relevant and engaging content.

Success is about more than just the technical capabilities of the platform. It also hinges on the adoption by the business at large. Many grand WCMS launches end up with the same two marketers updating all the content with little improvements to customer engagement.

2. Be prepared to engage

When looking at your requirements, stakeholder involvement highlights many of their current business needs. But digital communication is always on the move and your requirements also need to reflect what you need to move forward.

We have moved to a point where engaging with audiences is about more than just publishing a website. Web engagement is more than publishing brochureware on multiple devices. Instead, it is about creating a relevant and personal experience across multiple channels and web destinations that include email, mobile devices and social media channels.These business requirements for dynamic, reusable, personalized content put specific technical demands on your WCMS platform for channel-agnostic delivery.

In addition, to create relevant experiences, you need to understand your visitor. Your requirements should also give you the capability to gather visitor intelligence as they interact with you online.

3. Look for ease of use

OK – so everyone has, “it must be easy to use” as a requirement for a WCMS. But, don’t underestimate the importance of user adoption. The success of any WCMS implementation is, both now and in the future, wholly dependent on the people using it.

Entering into relevant and personal engagement with visitors requires content that is specific to a visitor segment and which is written by those who understand. By empowering your business users, you make it easier for your organization to truly engage.

Social media also drives your visitors expectations and democratizes the publication and consumption of content – visitors no longer just want to hear from sales and marketing – but from the knowledgeable experts (like them) in your business.

To approach this, you need to first procure easy-to-use WCMS tools that fit your internal business users and then leverage the tools your contributors already use, such as SharePoint and Word.

4. Be aware of your business process

Do you fit the WCMS, or does the WCMS fit you? Implementing a WCMS often requires some changes to processes, roles and approach.

Ideally, you want to use the procurement process as an opportunity to make improvements to your existing processes – making them more efficient or suitable for your business. But this isn’t always the case, as organizations are forced to implement changes to accommodate the WCMS.An area often overlooked, is the way in which the WCMS stores your content and how this impacts the way people work with the system. It is important to know just how the WCMS workflow processes and notifications fit the way you already communicate as a business.

5. Thou shalt not be a slave to technology

The technical delivery behind a compelling web experience about more than the database, a web scripting language and a few templates – it’s about a deeper integration into your back office systems, leveraging content and services from outside the server room in the cloud and feeding visitor information into customer and marketing systems.

These integrations are often neglected in the rush to launch the visible return on the WCMS investment – the website – but these deeper, often second-phase requirements, can be a significant burden and obstacle to providing a better visitor experience if the underlying WCMS technology is restrictive.

Ensure that the technical requirements of integrating both the legacy systems and any proposed new systems feature in the requirements and that you choose a WCMS with a broad technical footprint and a proven integration track record.

6. Engage your stakeholder community

We’ve already discussed the importance of forming a stakeholder community and developing requirements.

For a successful WCMS project, it is incredibly important to stick with your stakeholder community and support them without compromise.

For example, many organizations feel obliged to use products such as SharePoint due to its ubiquity within IT departments.

But, your process may require mandatory business requirements around accessibility, branding, multi-channel/multi-site publishing, social media and email integration that may not be met by SharePoint.

Support stakeholders with the best tools possible to support their existing and future endeavors.

7. Treat your visitors, including Google, equally

Beyond the legal requirements to make websites accessible, providing access to information for the disabled community is empowering.

Aside from the commercial benefits of accessing these consumers, people also make investment decisions based on how ethical a company is or appears to be.

The structure of a web page, its adherence to web standards and its metadata are also best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in which search engines view your website through a ‘text only’ view.

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8. Seek and meet your visitor

Our digital marketing and communications activities are now driven to create an Engagement Hub – fed by publishing relevant content to multiple channels.

In addition digital marketers are now driven to engage with their customers on many different social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Being present in these new web destinations presents an opportunity to be visible in your customers’ location of choice.

In addition, the email channel is now part of the cross-channel experience as well. Using your WCMS as the hub for both websites and email provides your audience with consistent messages and a view of your brand across channels. It also provides the opportunity to reuse and coordinate campaigns centrally.

This online engagement hub can serve as a single conduit for visitor insight, where you collate and process feedback from email campaigns, social media, web analytics, comments and visitor behavior.

9. Look for early rewards

We’ve discussed that digital engagement is now broader than creating websites – but today your WCMS implementation is no doubt focused on your website.

The maturity of the WCMS industry would suggest that we’d moved on from starting from scratch with each implementation – but that’s not always the case.

It’s important to understand what a vendor offers to get your website up and running quickly, including widgets, thirdparty integrations, a community and code samples.

10. Find like-minded partners

Let’s be honest, there are bumps in the road in any enterprise software implementation – the impact of these are greatly determined by the people you have chosen to work with.

It’s imperative to get to know the people involved in providing the proposal: the implementation team, be it the vendor or a third party and the vendor support team.

It’s obviously difficult to do this in a sales process, so select someone to work on a proof of concept, a pilot or an extended demonstration of your scenario.

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