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CMS Selection and Deployment Checklist

Date Posted: Friday, 12 April 2013 00:55
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Investing in a CMS is a good idea for many businesses, offering plenty of benefits in terms of increased productivity and ROI. However, different businesses and industries have varying needs when it comes to the functionality and performance of a CMS, so it really pays to plan thoroughly to ensure the right one is deployed.

Bearing this in mind, we’ve put together a checklist of high-level items to consider before settling on the best CMS vendor for your company.

Deployment checklist

Migration

An important one for most enterprises; does the CMS vendor enable the migration of content from the original to the new system? This could number tens of thousands of documents, images, videos and so on and who in their right mind would want to transfer all that content manually?

Nobody. So this has to qualify as one of the top questions to ask the potential vendor.

Security

This is another vital consideration. Ensure that the CMS has formal accreditation and ask when its last application security review was carried out. It’s also worth looking at how the CMS produces content for web standards, such as accessibility, and checking that this is up to scratch.

Another consideration here is compliance, can it help you with this and ensure that your next audit will be squeaky clean? This is especially important for cloud-based CMS, as application data will be stored away from the business premises.

Scalability

Does the CMS have a scalable architecture and is it capable of performing across multiple web servers without failing? You want to make sure that the software doesn’t fall over when a lot is asked of it, so ask for third-party testing.

It’s also worth considering if it’s flexible enough to grow with your company, think about how many users you may need in the future and how licensing is set up. Does it have a mature API or SDK that allow it to be extended?

Languages

Does your organisation need a CMS that caters for any language to be used on the front end? Then it needs to be multilingual.

Usability

How simple is the user interface? Will it require a vast amount of staff training, or is it a simple, clean interface that is easy to pick up and use without the needs for endless weeks of time wasted on getting to grips with it?

Does it include support if things go wrong or more help is required? Are there comprehensive user guides and technical documentation, so that users have a reference point?

All of these things can make life a lot easier in the days following deployment, so it’s important to check. Another thing to ask is if basic training is supplied by the vendor to key members of staff in the first instance, so that you have at least a few employees who have a good working knowledge of the system when it’s installed.

It’s also worth knowing if the CMS is supported locally by a development team, how easy it is to gain help when things go wrong and how long you are likely to have to wait in the event of a disaster. A lack of decent support for a product your business relies on is unacceptable and this is an area that should be fully checked out.

Talking of instalment, how long is deployment likely to take? This is one of the most important considerations when thinking about installing a CMS, as not many businesses can afford to shut down whilst an army of engineers crawls all over the network.

Search

Does the CMS have a great search engine as an integral part of the software? This is important, as a comprehensive and powerful internal search engine can be expensive if added from a third party at a later date.

When thinking about websites, is the included search engine SEO friendly from an external perspective. These are considerations that will potentially save employees a lot of time, as well as ensuring that websites are powerful and intuitive, when it comes to search.

SEO/ Metadata

Will all the content being created and added to the CMS be supported by a strong metadata framework and will it make life easier when it comes to SEO friendly content? If you update a meta description will this be updated site wide?

Does the CMS have the ability to generate and suggest appropriate keywords without a lot of fuss and intervention from employees? We all know how important SEO is to the modern website, so this is something that it’s worth asking for a thorough demonstration in before going ahead.

There are a huge number of CMS offerings on the market from companies both large and small, as well as those in the middle.

Whilst this gives a great spectrum of choice, it also makes for confusion when it comes to which is best for your company.

A good CMS is going to be with your business for a long time, so it’s important to plan thoroughly and make absolutely sure that you are choosing a solution that is right for you.

Of course, some vendors also offer the ability to tailor the CMS specifically to your needs and this is ideal for most businesses, as it offers the chance to acquire bespoke software without the need for extensive investment.

This is because, for the most part, CMS that can be tailored to suit is still based on a strong basic framework, with modules that can be added or removed to suit the individual enterprise.

Whilst it can be tempting to go for large corporation CMS solutions, it’s also important to ask yourself whether the support from a large company will be personal enough for your firm.

This checklist should give a strong starting point to go on and plan out what you need from a CMS and choose vendors accordingly. It’s then a case of testing the water, asking for demonstrations and a thorough explanation of each aspect of the CMS before you commit to buy.

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