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Your content management system (CMS) keeps your digital business Most businesses start shopping for a new CMS when they hit a wall of limitations with their current CMS. The market is changing as fast as the digital landscape, so it’s unclear what the next level of digital products will look like. 

Before you jump the gun to invest in a new content management system (CMS) ask the vendor these 10 critical questions:

1. How will this CMS integrate with our current tools?

The ease with which your CMS integrates with your current technology stack indicates how easy it will be for you to adopt emerging tools down the road. 

Talking about integrating capabilities will show you how much is repeated in their system. Most one-stop-shop CMSes will include features your business may not necessarily need, resulting in training for new interfaces and migrating your existing data. These CMSes likely don’t have quality control; if a CMS has everything, those individual tools may not work well.

If the CMS can easily integrate with your developers’ favorite languages and tools, learning how that integration will be carried out is crucial. 

You need to know if your customizations or preferred elements will be lost in translation during your CMS switch. Will you need to compromise the implementation timeline or certain functionalities, and how would integrations follow through with future CMS releases? 

2. Will our designers and developers have a good user experience?

Put yourself in the shoes of your team members that will use the CMS every day for designing and developing your digital business. Is this CMS focused on selling a good user experience to 

the management and c-level staff or does it put effort toward the needs of the creative contributors of your business? Skill can only go so far if the interface of the tools is lackluster. Providing developers and designers with tools they enjoy using will keep everyone productive and the company accelerating forward.

Ask the CMS provider to show you the interfaces and workflows for editorial, development, and marketing. Look for ways that your content and development teams can work in parallel and in collaboration, rather than having interdependencies in the way of creating and publishing content.

3. Are there limitations on the content we can manage?

Centralization is the biggest characteristic to look for in a new CMS. Every time you have to go outside of the CMS to do something, you add extra work. Extra work = extra time. Siloed content only bogs down workflow between all departments, which can cause unnecessary friction in your team. Make sure this prospective CMS has everything you need and can manage all the content your business produces, or the capability to integrate all the current tools you can’t part with.

Look for a CMS that can be your content hub for every product, service, and content forms you provide. It should be easy for you to create, upload, and update from one digital home base and transferable to websites, apps, email automation platforms, etc. 

4. What’s the implementation timeline?

Don’t let this process get dragged along. Get a clear understanding of how long it will take for you to fully transition to your new digital marketing hub before and after implementation. 

You do need to know ahead of time if you’ll need to hire experts for this CMS and what the learning curve will be for all your team members. Configuring your CMS to your business’s needs and migrating content will take time, so ask the vendor for a roadmap of how long it will take for you to get everything up and running.

5. Will this CMS help the company produce content faster?

Check to see if the solutions you’re considering can help you quickly produce and publish content or products across all channels. Ask how fast the vendor’s other clients in your industry complete their tasks. Case studies and other data straight from the CMS provider will show you how much their solution reduced development time. Take note of your business’s strengths so you can pick a CMS that supports and builds on those areas of performance.

6. Does this CMS support our reach in growing markets?

The digital climate is everchanging, so it’s unknown what the next digital channel will be and its opportunities for business growth. Get a glimpse at how the CMS can expand your reach, especially if you want to take your business to a global level. Consider features that support international groups like translation and collaboration tools for more seamless delivery. Choose a CMS with the 

7. Can we do a gradual implementation of this CMS?

Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up. Fully committing to a CMS is a big investment - you don’t truly know if it’s a good fit for your team until you can use it. Some CMSes require hiring experts, learning new interfaces, and content migration, which could leave you wondering if it's worth the investment. 

Be cut and dry; ask “What’s the minimum amount of time, money, and development needed to implement a version of this CMS?” Go beyond a demo and look for a vendor that allows you a gradual commitment starting with a pilot of their solution. 

8. What differentiates your CMS from others?

Most CMSes cover basic digital business needs, but what sets them apart from the competition? Upgrading your CMS is more than just patching up what the last one couldn’t deliver; it’s looking for a service that can open new doors for your business. Find a CMS with innovative plans with a focus on the future of its services concerning the market. 

Do the case studies show Do their clients talk about the wow factor of the CMS and what it did for their business? 

9. How do you facilitate content migration?

Tell the CMS provider you’re considering if they can break down exactly how the content migration process will go. A lot of this will be done on your company’s end, but to circumvent any roadblocks, ask how this CMS and its clients go about moving everything over to a new system. 

10. What is the CMS vendor’s vision for content management going forward?

Ask your prospective CMS providers if they have a planned infrastructure for content management in the future, an ideal CMS will have a track record of innovations under their belt. Pay attention to the CMS providers with a forward-thinking approach, they may have more longevity in the market than their competitors.

Think beyond today’s pain points; the ability to solve more than your current problems can put you ahead of others in your industry.

Once you've decided which CMS is the chosen one for your company, follow this ultimate CMS implementation guide.

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