Does your client really need a content management system?

September 22, 2006 by  

A client challenged us the other day, and it was intriguing. Our Web site redesign project scope of work clearly indicated that a content management system was not included in the budget. Our client never said he wanted it in all the preliminary scope conversations.

Suddenly he called and seemed adamant that he wanted a content management system. He said that his current understanding was that all sites now are published using a database.

We promised to assess and get back to him the next day. We probably spent about 12 man hours of due diligence to evaluate what we knew about the client’s business so far, evaluate what content publishing they currently do, forecast the frequency of their publishing, consider the stakeholders, and assess software and custom programming solutions. All of this was eventually distilled into a one page slide for the client.

We called the client and laid out for him the reasons why a Content Management System might not be right for him at this point and what we felt was the higher priority to invest his budget in.

Fifteen minutes later, he was enthusiastic, agreed with our recommendation, and said he appreciated how we thought carefully about his business and his business priorities, rather than trying to sell him on an expensive solutions that might not meet his needs.

Result: client was happy, we came across as concerned and professional, and the project is back on track.

Is a Content Management System right for your project? Here are some points to evaluate:

  • Flexibility — Once you commit, there is minimum flexibility after the system is in place. It can be costly to make changes in the future.
  • Templates — Consider your needs for the near future otherwise you won’t have the ability to easily modify style or layout.
  • SEO friendliness — Will the tool provide functionality to automatically generate code that is SEO friendly? What will you have to do manually? What wont you be able to do?
  • Work flow publishing — Carefully define how your team will process, review and publish new content and make edits to existing content. Try to be realistic.
  • Permissions — Define roles and capability for contributors, authors, editors, admins. Who has permission to do what and when.
  • Training — Users need to be trained, not just initially but everytime a new user joins the organization.
  • Expense — The more complex, the more time and money to develop initially. Also, consider long term costs to maintain, such as licensing and hosting.
  • Scalability — Think about your long term needs? What will happen in the future if you add new content sections, create language versions, create country versions, etc.?
  • Hosting — Will you have to change or upgrade your existing platform?

I hope you find this useful. Please post any additional suggestions.
Thank you.

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