Cathy McKnight is Industry Analyst and Founding Partner at Digital Clarity Group. Cathy was kind enough to answer a number of questions about CMS migrations. You'll find the questions and answers below.
Tell us about Digital Clarity Group?
Digital Clarity Group (DCG) is an award-winning analyst and consulting firm that helps organizations navigate the new world emerging from digital disruption. We work with business leaders who aim to transform the experience they deliver to customers, prospects, and employees.
We deliver insight, research, and services focused on the content, technologies, and practices that enable world-class experiences.
DCG's consulting practice works with clients to help them identify their marketing technology needs. We gather extensive user and stakeholder requirements for both technology and implementation partners, validate the needs by isolating key requirements, then we facilitate the selection process helping them to find the best fit technology and partner.
What are signs that you need to move off your current CMS?
There are many signs for evaluating your current CMS for its ability to meet your needs. Let's break it down by two stakeholder groups: content owners/providers and IT. Here's what to listen for.
Content Owners and Providers
"The CMS is difficult to use"
This complaint often comes from users of content systems that have been in place for a long time, or homegrown systems where the team that built it was focused on technical aspects more than usability. While the lack of an intuitive interface isn’t a reason to replace the CMS in itself, if it is impeding the onboarding of new users, or is the reason content providers are not maintaining the content as it should be, it is definitely a factor to consider.
"I can’t do [fill in the blank]"
This is the probably the primary complaint you will hear from this group as to why a new CMS is needed. So, if it is determined that the current CMS can’t provide the missing functionality via an upgrade or perhaps simple add-on tool, then it is time to look at what the company’s content needs are and how they can best be met.
Information Technology (IT)
"We can't add any further functionality"
If this is the response from IT when a request for new functionality comes in, and it is due to the CMS being at its breaking point or off its upgrade path (and not due to a lack of in-house IT capability), then it is time to consider a new platform.
"We can’t afford to [insert request here]”
Whether it is due to internal development costs or licensing add-ons, if the CMS has become too financially onerous to maintain, then a more affordable solution (including moving from an on-premises to hosted solution), that can meet the company’s evolving needs, might make sense.
What's the difference between a CMS re-platform and a CMS migration?
Re-platforming is a much bigger initiative than a CMS migration. It typically involves moving to a new CMS solution, and often includes a visual redesign, a content audit, and an updating of the sites’ content and its structure.
A re-platforming is a major initiative that should involve gathering content, functional, and technical requirements from content and website stakeholders, and the development of an updated content and governance strategy. Whereas a CMS migration is likely more of a "lift and shift" where the content and design are replicated pretty much as is into either an updated version of the existing CMS, or perhaps a new CMS.
What functional roles should be a part of the CMS migration team?
cross-functional team is best.
Making sure that the core team has
representation from key stakeholder groups (e.g. Marketing, IT, Operations,
Communications, Leadership) is critical to the success of the
This will help ensure buy-in, support, and the "right-fit"
buy of the new CMS.
What's the best first step of a CMS migration project?
Start with gathering user requirements. And not just from the usual suspects. Jot down all the possible people, teams, departments, etc. who might have an interest or thoughts on what the content management system should provide, and then build a list of people that is a cross-company, vertical and horizontal, representation of those stakeholders.
Use this list as the guide for whom to invite to interviews, workshops, and information sessions. Speaking with stakeholders will help ensure the new CMS meets the needs of the company, as well as provide an opportunity to educate and gain support for the new technology.
What’s the single biggest mistake organizations make when migrating their CMS?
There are two things
First, not to sound like a broken record, but not taking the time and opportunity to engage with stakeholders is a critical mistake. Selecting and implementing a new CMS based on anecdotal or myopic (i.e. an IT-only) perspective is an almost assured way to wind up with a technology that doesn’t meet the needs of its users.
Second is the amount of time it takes to get it right. A CMS implementation is a program with many different projects taking place throughout the endeavor: technology selection, content audit, governance set up, content migration, CMS implementation, etc.
Many companies underestimate the effort involved. Leveraging the internal stakeholder groups, as well as an external team (agency, system integrator) to help execute the many tasks can expedite and improve the outcome.
How do you set a realistic and achievable schedule for the project?
Having a project manager that understands the full breadth and depth of what needs to be done is a great start. Working with an external team who has expertise in CMS implementations is another good way to ensure all tasks are identified and timed correctly. External project management support is also helpful in keeping internal teams on task.
Note: Visit the DCG website to learn more about their advisory services for enterprises.
Breaking the projects down into phases or work streams will help identify where the dependencies are and help ensure the timelines are aligned. This will help in actively managing the timeline: keeping track of what has been completed, what is in progress, and what is coming up next, so that if something shifts, the project team can be notified and allowances made.
How should an organization measure the success of their migration?
The first thing is to have a plan on what you are going to measure: you can't measure what you don't know.
Once you have identified what the project will be measured against (e.g. time, cost, functionality improvements, etc.), take the current measurements of those elements to create a baseline. You can use these numbers to compare against the new measurements post-migration.
What to measure depends on the reasons why you are implementing a new CMS. Common measurements include:
Companies are looking to save money over the long term with a new CMS. Cost savings can come from efficiency gains in processes such as content production, translation, and time-to-market for content.
Higher return on investment can come in the form of increased re-use of content, better use of resources, more efficient content processes, higher sales, customer satisfaction, and less overall spend on the CMS.
The key is remembering to benchmark measurements so you can measure your success.
Thanks so much for sharing your expertise, Cathy!
Related Resource: Web CMS Migration Handbook
Web CMS Migration Handbook
Deane Barker, CMS author and expert
For CMS migrations, this handbook will help you identify what content to migrate, determine how content will be managed in the new system and consider how the actual bytes will be moved from one system to another.
Download the handbook now.