The Role of Technology in a CMS Selection Process

James Robertson has published a briefing on Specifying technology in a CMS tender. I agree with his overall premise but have a few comments on some of the specifics. First a quote:

In short, by focusing on the technology aspects, these tenders often fail to select the best product, and don’t deliver the desired business benefits.

For this reason, we encourage those developing tenders to concentrate on the business requirements, and minimise the technical details.

That being said, there is a legitimate need to specify specific technology issues. This briefing presents some guidelines for doing so, in a way that will generate the best outcomes.

The main point, that the technology is irrelevant if you don’t have criteria that will support your overall business objectives, is right on the money. Assuming you have that part down, I think it is very important to play to your IT strengths if at all possible.

One factor not mentioned specifically in the article is that CMS’ are typically high-maintenance beasts (in my experience). If it is running on a platform for which you already have experienced admins, your life will be much easier. There are a lot of not very well documented tweaks and tricks to keep servers and systems running optimally. You’ll need knowledgable admins for a CMS that bears significant load.

Also, staff expertise in the CMS coding language is more important than given here, I think. Without it you are completely at the mercy of contractors to make modifications, no matter how minor. If you have one or more staff who know the language you can make the minor adjustments that tend to come up pretty frequently without having to spend consulting money nor take the time to secure the resources. You can be more nimble by making those small adjustments yourself and save the cash for major development and integration projects.