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Section 4

Getting content management system implementations right: The best practice guide

Read time length: 3-4 minutes

Choosing a content management system is hard.
Implementing a content management system is harder.

CMS implementations are long-term, ongoing, expensive projects. However, just like the buying process, there are established best practices to buying a CMS that reduce obstacles and improve outcomes.

We cover 10 steps to great CMS implementations in detail in our full-length guide, and you can read them all here:

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The definitive guide to choosing a content management system

Choosing the right CMS can be really complicated, and really important. So we wrote a guide to getting it right.

Download the full-length guide

Here are a few of them:

Accept that you need an implementation partner (and choose the right one)

Few, if any businesses possess the internal expertise, resources, or objectivity required to implement their own CMS.

You need someone with the right experience—not just with your chosen CMS platform, but also in working with organizations and industries facing challenges similar to yours.

The right implementation partner will both continually drive best practices and have the foresight to identify pitfalls as well as avoid them.

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Build a strong content team

You need to build internal advocacy around both the new CMS solution and the wider business case driving its implementation.

Doing this alone is impossible. You need to assemble a cross-functional team of ambassadors to both support the implementation and run the CMS once it’s operational. This might include roles like:

  • Customer experience leader
    Executive sponsor with C-level influence
  • Digital strategist
    Builds cross-channel digital strategies and content marketing initiatives
  • Experience architect
    UX designer responsible for designing personalized customer journeys
  • Content marketer
    Creates all content in close partnership with strategists and architects
  • Marketing technologist
    Oversees website optimization, analytics, automation, and e-commerce
  • Digital analyst
    Tracks customer journeys and channel and campaign performance
  • IT representative
    Balances and prioritizes marketing needs with IT capabilities
Avoiding the late U-turn

The right content team will drive advocacy for the new CMS across the business. However, you also need to maintain good visibility among senior stakeholders.

Senior leaders should have the opportunity to raise issues and correct problems as soon as possible, to avoid late U-turns, or worse, starting the implementation from scratch.

Last-minute changes aren’t just demoralizing—they’re enormously expensive and significantly delay time to value.

Build in quick wins

Maintaining senior advocacy throughout the first year of your CMS implementation can be hard without any immediate results to show for your work.

It can help offset any vision fatigue by building in some modest, short-term goals (like pilot projects) into your implementation strategy.

Uncover and mitigate risks

While building in quick wins is important, don’t let the drive for early success overshadow the need for diligent risk identification and mitigation.

Don’t wait for problems to appear. Instead, proactively uncover them by doing things like:

  • Piloting aspects of the editorial user’s experience
  • Conducting interviews and gathering early feedback on functionality
  • Doing something start to finish, like publishing a blog from first draft through to multichannel distribution
Plan your content migration meticulously

Before moving anything, it’s a good idea to audit your existing content. Moving old, unused content into your new CMS effectively builds in inefficiencies before it’s even launched.

Once you know what you’re taking with you—and what you’re leaving behind— think about how the migration itself will happen. Moving content from one place to another is messy—issues around missing data, varying formats, and conflicting versions are common.