1. Think in terms of "business outcomes" not "features"
When you’re looking for anything new, be it a car, latest iPhone or something else, it’s exciting to explore all the new features you will get access to, a CMS is no different. Some CMS platforms offer an ever increasing feature set, certainly in the world of Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) you get a CMS bundled with a plethora of marketing features. The promise of an end to end omnichannel marketing platform that will personalize the experience for every visitor can sound extremely appealing but very few organisations actually use all those features.
However, when you are comparing CMS platforms, you need to focus on what you really need it for, managing content. By thinking in terms of business outcomes you really get to focus on what you need and which platform will support you the most in delivering your vision.
For example, for enterprise organisations (certainly those in the financial industries), it's often essential to be able to see an audit trail of changes. Whilst this may seem like a straightforward requirement, not all audit trails work in the same way. If you need to be able to show what a web page looked like at a specific point in time, then that’s a much more complex outcome than just an “Audit trail” feature.
The same can be said about governance, accessing a platform and having some roles or permissions is a feature most would take for granted. But if you need to be able to provide a workflow that includes clear quality gates and checkpoints for sign off, then your outcome becomes much bigger than just a role-based access feature.
When you have your list of outcomes, try to group them together into themes, this will allow you to find topics that can be presented to vendors to give them a steer on what you need to see as part of your evaluation.
2. Involve the people that will use the CMS
I’m sure we’ve all been there, you’re told your getting something new, you get excited, you know what you want, you know all the bad things about the way you currently do things, how you can improve your ways of working and are exciting to know that all those dark days are behind you only to be told that the platform choice has already been made. It’s bad times.
If you want to introduce people to a new system, then the best way to do it is bring them along with the change, let them be involved and input to the process. When I'm running a vendor selection process, I typically run a number of sessions with different teams and stakeholders. The sessions include technical ones with the engineering teams (those that will be consuming the content) and DevOps (Those that will need to support or manage the platform. Content authors (those that will need to create and edit the content on a regular basis) as well as marketers who may be using the platform to run campaigns.
By including a range of stakeholders you can ensure you have decent coverage on what you need to get out of the platform and those outcomes that everyone needs to deliver. you‘re also more likely to get real insight into where efficiencies can be made and more importantly avoid the dreaded route of being in a worse position than you were to begin with.
There is however one caveat with this recommendation, if you’re an enterprise, you can’t include everyone in the organisation in the discussions, therefore you need to be lean in the selection process of who will take part and look to people that will provide real insight and not be afraid to be honest with the way things currently operate.
I’d also recommend that you keep the number of attendees to any session to a maximum of seven, anything more and you’ll have people that aren't engaging or just too much noise that you can't get the input and information you need.