Purchasing a content management system is a big investment. There are a lot of people who will be affected by the purchase, there’s a lot of research to do, and you’ll need to plan for the implementation, not to mention the actual cost of whatever system you choose. You may also want to audit your existing site content before migrating to the new system. Needless to say, there’s a lot to think about. The last thing you want to slow you down is colleagues or bosses standing in the way of a more efficient, more powerful content management system because they aren’t on the same page as you.
Based on our extensive experience with organizations buying content management systems, the best way to address the issue of organizational buy-in is to consider all your stakeholders from the beginning.
Make a list of each person (or department) at your organization who will be impacted by your selection, and consider their needs and desires. Depending on your role, this may include any or all of the following:
As marketers become increasingly tech-savvy and analytics-driven, they are making more and more of the tech decisions at companies. Regardless of who the final decision-maker is at your company, the marketing and communications folks will be heavily invested in the final outcome. We recommend speaking with them before you get too far in your search in order to find out their needs. Are they concerned with in-context analytics, branding consistency, fresh and SEO-friendly content, converting visitors to leads, sharing content across pages and sites, and/or having a mobile-friendly or responsive site design? What are their top priorities and biggest pain points?
Information Technology (IT)
Even if you choose a CMS-provider that can handle your content migration, CMS implementation and hosting of your CMS server, your IT department will still need to be involved to an extent in getting the CMS up and running for your organization. Additionally, you’ll probably need to have at least one or two people responsible for maintaining users in the system, adjusting permissions and access levels, and serving as the first level of support. If you choose to do the content migration, CMS hosting, backups and software upgrades in-house, then they’ll be even more involved. Speak with this team early on, and be sure to consider their technical abilities and existing time commitments, as this will help determine what types of services you’ll need to look for in conjunction with your software purchase.
These are any social media marketers, bloggers, journalists, writers, photographers, interns, administrative assistants or others who will be updating content on your site. Some of them will be using the system daily while others may only use it every six months. Technical abilities may vary greatly from company to company and within a single company. In order to get buy-in from this group, we recommend asking them about their current pain points during your research phase and having them test your top 2-3 systems. Another crucial step to getting buy-in and participation from this group is to provide training and on-going internal support to these users post-purchase. Some end user-focused features you may want to look for are in-context editing, spell-checking, non-HTML content editing, hidden links on the live site to jump into the system for editing, image and link management, and drag and drop functionality.
Web Developers and Designers
If you’re redesigning your site along with upgrading to a new CMS, you may choose to outsource the design to an agency. However, once the initial design has been implemented, you will probably still have an ongoing need for web development and design work. If you’ve got in-house developers, make sure you discuss their needs and let them demo your top finalist systems. Content management systems come with a wide array of different developer tools, and a single feature, such as a code editor, could make a big difference in how easy or difficult it is to get your developers on board. Ask your developers how much weight they place on having an advanced code editor, the ability to use unlimited templates, support for mobile and responsive technologies, an active community of other users, and sample templates that can be customized for your company.
Your CIO, CTO and/or CMO may never spend a single minute working directly with your new content management system, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t have opinions on the technology they want you to use or what results they’d like to see from the implementation of a new system. This group may hold the purse strings as well, so it’s important to seek out their opinions early. Talk to them about your overall web content strategy and your goals, so you can be sure the product you select can help you achieve those goals. If your opinions regarding technology differ, the conversation doesn’t have to end there; however, it’s good to know where they stand ahead of time, so you can be prepared to make the case for your favorite CMS later down the road.
This is not an exclusive list of potential stakeholders, so make sure you consider all angles at your organization and write down their different (and potentially conflicting) goals and pain points early on. The best way to get buy-in is to let your stakeholders be part of your team and by making sure their needs are represented in your search. Does this mean everyone is going to be happy with your final decision? Maybe not at first. But by working together, providing on-going training, and informing all your stakeholders of the most influential factors in your decision, you can minimize the grumbling and have a smooth transition to your new CMS.
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