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Enterprise CMS: questions you should ask before making a choice

Date Posted: Tuesday, 08 January 2013 22:56
Posted By: Kerry Butters

Over the course of the past few years the web landscape has changed dramatically; not only have we seen social become one of the most important marketing tools, but we’ve seen changes to Google, ‘Big Data’ (the buzzword of 2012?) and an explosion in mobile devices.

Enterprise Choices

For enterprise and corporate sites, this has presented something of a challenge, especially when you consider the emergence of cloud computing, which can give the IT managers of large organizations heart palpitations when considering deployment from an on-site infrastructure.

But fear not! The answer to most of these issues and how to handle content and the huge amount of data being generated is choosing an enterprise class CMS system that can be adapted to your company needs.

A decent CMS can make all the difference to a company, especially when you come to consider eCommerce websites, or even corporate sites that deal with a lot of content and data. A good CMS should be dynamic, flexible and able to adapt to your business’ needs.

Bearing this in mind, a quick search on Google will throw up a plethora of CMS, some great, some not so good, so how do you go about choosing a CMS that you can trust, that is scalable and never throws a tantrum?


I seem to find myself saying this a lot but implementing a good CMS will take some planning, just like any other business process and this is where you should start, ensuring that you have all the right questions to hand to ask a vendor.

There are plenty of options for CMS and therefore you’re in the driving seat when it comes to choosing a supplier. Open Source solutions such as Wordpress and Joomla are OK for SMBs, but when it comes to larger organizations, the support just isn’t there and this is something you’re going to need, from time to time, anyway.

Whilst of course an open source solution can be adapted to your needs if you’re a smaller company, there still exists little support and a lot of customization to be done – in the long run it can work out more pricey than choosing a company to build your CMS to suit your company.

What should I be asking a CMS vendor?

This will depend on your industry of course, but there are a few questions that should be on your list as standard, for example:

  • Usability – will staff have to be heavily trained in order to use the new system or does it have a simple, easy to navigate user interface. This is essential as if you choose a system that means you have to invest heavily in training staff to use it, as you lose out in terms of productivity and ROI.
  • Deployment – how long will it take to implement the new system and will this mean any downtime for your business.
  • Existing content – will your existing content be able to be easily integrated into the new system, if not, what can be done about it?
  • Permissions – with any intranet, employees with different responsibilities of course are able to access only what they are responsible for. The boss will want complete control, even if he doesn’t use the system, whilst the office junior won’t be given access to important aspects of the business contained within the CMS.
  • Users and cost – how many users will be able to access the CMS at the same time? Is it scalable so that when your business grows you can easily add more users? If times are tough will you be able to reduce monthly costs? Is it paid for on a monthly basis or per license?
  • Training – once implemented, is the vendor willing to provide basic training and ongoing support?
  • Demonstrations – is the vendor willing to fully demonstrate the CMS on a working model before you even ask questions? If not, it’s advisable to tick them off the list straight away, they can’t be that hungry for your business and so it’s unlikely that they will provide decent support or even a decent CMS.

These are just a few of many questions you should be asking before you choose a vendor. Some CMS can be quite complicated to use and once set up, you won’t want to be in a position where you are having to think of changing vendors – it’s vital that you choose the right one for your company.

Further considerations

How well will the CMS integrate with your website, internal data, social media marketing and other platforms? Does it encourage collaboration within the organization? These are all becoming more and more important as the amount of data collated by a company each year grows.

According to IBM:

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few”.

Collaboration has also been something of a buzzword this year, as technology has moved on so much that employees can collaborate wherever they happen to be in the world with a connected CMS.

Further to this, as we’ve mentioned previously, social intranets, which encourage collaboration and also makes for happy workers who can get to know each other and their superiors can really be made to feel that they fit in with the company.

Social intranets, if they can be incorporated into a CMS or run alongside it, are invaluable and over the next 12 months or so, I expect to see a huge rise in the use of them.

Whatever the case, think and plan carefully before implementing a CMS, ask lots of questions, for demos and really give the company a drilling as to what they can do for you, a reputable company who are keen to work with you will be only too happy to help.

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