The 5 Worst Mistakes When Selecting a CMS

So your business has finally taken the crucial step of selecting a Content Management System. Perhaps it’s your first CMS, or perhaps you’re ready for the switch from a solution that just isn’t cutting it anymore. You want to get the most value you can out of your solution. You’re probably making lists of expectations, or products to compare. As you go through your selection process, don’t get overly wrapped up in processes only to lose sight of the bigger picture. Take a step back and make sure to avoid these pitfalls.

1.    Sticking to your ranked features matrix

Skip the excel spreadsheet with a feature matrix. Marketers (myself included) love a good spreadsheet. But that doesn’t mean decision makers, whether in marketing or IT, should be held back by the rigid confines of a 1 through 5 features ranking. Don’t get stuck in a mindset that more features make a better system. The best system is one that is agile enough to respond to your business’ needs. This includes being open for integrations with best of breed solutions that address your challenges today and in the future. Keep in mind that your platform shouldn’t just address yesterday’s problems, but should be open for what the future brings.

2.    Handing over a wish list and letting IT make the selection

The decision makers involved in the CMS selection process vary from enterprise to enterprise. Marketing is increasingly in the driver’s seat. But though this is changing, that’s not always the case.  I’ve emphasized the importance and business value of a good communication between IT and Marketing for years. We firmly believe that a good CMS tailored to the needs of both departments can help foster that cooperation. But that communication needs to start during the CMS selection. Far too often, marketers abdicate their responsibility to understand the process they’re trying to facilitate with a tool like a CMS. At times, we don’t say what we mean, or don’t fully articulate what we truly want. We as marketers need to be crystal clear on what we’re trying to achieve for the organization before we develop business requirements to hand over. 

3.    Ignoring the power of integrations

This links back to #1 and applies to any solution you make a part of your digital strategy. The success of all your solutions is intimately intertwined,  but relies on effective integration within your IT environment.  Excellent integrations can bring out the absolute best in your digital marketing ecosystem, but a poor integration can make even the best CMS seem terrible. To guarantee the greatest flexibility in integrations, consider a solution based on open standards.  

4.    Trusting the sales demo

Any solution’s sales demo provides an important first impression, but don’t forget to look beyond it. Every CMS looks fantastic when showcasing on its own terms. Don’t forget that the sales demo is most likely the vendor’s biggest marketing asset, with significant budget invested into it. Not all that glitters is gold. Before you buy, have a look at the real deal. Ask the vendors to leave their demo behind, or ask to do a short PoC.   We’re firm believers in making our code (and our free community edition) available for anyone to explore. We think it’s the best way to demonstrate our strengths as a business critical solution.

5.    Letting size determine everything

The size of your company doesn’t necessarily correspond to your digital business needs. Some small and medium sized organizations have enterprise requirements, and some enterprises have limited needs that can be supplemented by strong integrations at a later stage. Don’t overbuy or underbuy based on assumptions of your needs. Don’t let labels like “enterprise” or “mid-range” cause you to overlook strong solutions. Understand your challenge and let that dictate your CMS selection.

By Sonja Wraith, VP Marketing at Hippo