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Businesses are not getting the most from their digital platforms. Getting a website to launch can take a long time, leading to ‘project fatigue’ where the initial vision is lost and just getting it done becomes a priority.

We also see a lot of implementation and adoption of features being pushed to a mythical ‘phase two’ that just doesn’t happen. Either it wasn’t budgeted for or there are new priorities.

Finally, many businesses simply become overwhelmed with the options so just never get started. It’s hard to know what features you could be using on the platform if you don’t know what those features are offering.

Our Sitecore expert Steve Shaw recently held a webinar with Charles Bell, Director of Sales Engineering - Sitecore EMEA. They discussed how businesses can use a Platform Assessment to maximise their investment in Sitecore. Click here to watch the webinar

For those that prefer to read, the summary of the session is below.

Start with a platform assessment

The key to knowing your options is understanding your current platform.

A Platform Assessment covers lots of areas from the infrastructure, code, build and deployment through to content authoring and marketing. Talking to your editors and authors, developers, marketing teams and Sitecore partner can give you valuable insight on pain points and opportunity for change.

1. Sitecore version

The first and simplest area to consider is the current version of Sitecore your platform is using. The latest version 9.x of Sitecore has numerous benefits over previous versions such as improved performance, scalability, security and features.

Sitecore is currently being re-architected in .NETCORE, the latest language in the Microsoft technology stack. The interface might not look hugely different, but under the hood it’s getting better all the time.

2. Infrastructure

Hosting in the cloud allows you to proactively and responsively scale your infrastructure. If things are busy, scale up and add out to provide a better experience. If things are quiet, scale back down and reduce costs.

Newer hardware is faster and the costs can be lower. So by making the jump to the cloud you could be improving the overall customer experience whilst also saving money.

In the current climate, resilience and business continuity are vital. A server room in the basement of a building you can’t access isn't good enough. With the cloud, your IT team can support and manage the platform remotely from anywhere in the world.

3. Content authoring process

The content authoring process is one that often gets considered once during a platform build but then forgotten post launch. It should be something that is constantly evolved and improved. By identifying how to create better content and release it faster, businesses under pressure during Covid-19 can support customers by keeping them informed of business changes, useful advice or other essential content.

By using Sitecore to manage content across multiple channels you avoid having numerous disparate systems, each with their own learning curve and cost.

4. Quality Signals

During your conversations with various stakeholders, it’s worth listening for platform quality signals: things that could be improved to make things better.

One signal that businesses can pick up on is when the releases and updates to the platform are mainly focused on bug-fixing rather than new features, templates or components. It could be that an investment to clear up this ‘technical debt’ might clear the way to focus on improving the platform.

A common quality signal in terms of Sitecore is when all users log in to the platform with the ‘Admin’ role enabled. It means you could be missing out on very important and useful features like automatic version creation when items are edited creating an important audit trail and roll-back facility.

Sitecore has produced a series of best practices named ‘Helix’. These principles relate to developing and structuring code for Sitecore with the focus on stability and maintainability. Older platforms would certainly benefit from the Helix principles to help avoid small changes breaking something completely unrelated.

5. Unused features

For those already on the latest version of Sitecore, exploring features that are not currently used should be the focus. If you log into the Sitecore dashboard, then most will be familiar with the main two: Content Editor and Experience Editor. However, to the left are more marketing features.

Consider the marketing centre and what goals you could add to the site. By adding goals with a numeric value to certain interactions from visitors (Such as completing a form), you have a point of reference for other features to measure the impact.

For example, the Path Analyser feature, aside from being a lovely spider-diagram, offers marketers the ability to see the journeys that visitors take on the site, the value that gets generated and also where improvements could be made on those journeys.

Features like the Email Experience Manager (if not being used) could be a way to remove the investment in a third-party email marketing platform.

Value of doing a platform assessment

The core value of carrying out a Platform Assessment is the foundation of information and roadmap of activity that it can give your business. But longer term the value comes in three main areas:

  1. Reduce costs - this could be from updated infrastructure or reduced investment in third party platforms.
  2. Be more efficient - by creating efficiencies, you free up resources to focus on other areas of the platform, be it a better release process, improved content process or consolidated platforms.
  3. A better customer experience - ultimately, the changes you make and the features you adopt should all create a better experience for your customers which will translate into a better business.

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Reduce Costs

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Improve Efficiency

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Better experience

We don’t believe in tearing down your whole platform unless absolutely necessary. Where possible incremental improvements provide a much less riskier approach and often deliver value faster.  Be realistic - keep in mind the budgets, skills and investment in people and processes that you need to deliver your vision. Have benchmarks in place to prove the value of your investment And talk to your Sitecore partner if you have any questions, ideas or simply want to explore your options.

Sitecore is an enterprise Digital Experience Platform (DXP). The DXP is a combination of both a content management system and marketing features such as email, personalisation and testing.

It has been named a leader of DXPs in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for 3 years in a row because of both its vision and ability to deliver features that enable the end-to-end content lifecycle alongside data-driven experiences.

If you do want an informal chat to discuss your platform or if you’re interested in carrying out a Platform Assessment with Kin + Carta, then get in touch.

How can we make it happen for you?

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