Lessons from the real world
This article is based upon content that was presented by Kin+Carta as part of the Contentful Storylines Tour 2023 in both New York and London. This was first presented by our Vice President of Technology - Brian Browning and Technical Director - Kerrigan Baron. We gathered these lessons from our teams that have implemented MACH-based projects, more often than not including a Content Management System (CMS) at the heart of the implementation.
1. Customer Experience leads the way, so create your vision with this in mind
Reflecting on some past projects; in particular those involving legacy platforms, technology often led the way into a project; for example “we need a new CMS” or “we need to go through an upgrade process to get on the new version”, but this on its own, rarely delivers any real value. It's an effort to stand still. These moments should just be the opportunity to change but not the core "Why".
Our experience is that it is best to start with an understanding of the customer experience and what part of that experience you can change to deliver value.
Ultimately, customer experiences are designed to influence behaviour; by starting with what behaviours we want to incentivize, and crystalizing the vision for that experience, we can start with the end in mind.
2. Even in an agile world, it pays to do discovery right
We all know the benefits of agile: flexibility, stakeholder engagement and speed. But too many times, projects suffer from not having clear direction as we move into the development process. With MACH it's easy to dive in and start to develop a proof of concept, but be careful not to let that PoC become "the project".
Building a solid set of initial requirements, mapped to an actionable roadmap and signed off by client stakeholders is the best way to ensure agile delivers what you expect. Work together and agree on that north star with the understanding that even if the road you take might change, you will ultimately know where you’re heading.
With that established, it’s important to build the technology roadmap that will achieve and deliver that larger vision.
3. Start small, build momentum and scale when you have success
Sometimes, MACH projects are way too ambitious to be successfully executed at scale. If you compare this to the monolith world, which often involve a rip-and-replace of entire ecosystems or tech stacks, it’s important to educate business owners on the business value (speed, agility, performance, security, improved conversions) of MACH technology.
While IT departments generally are aware of the benefits, reaching out to the business and educating them is absolutely critical to drive funding and investment.
Start small, with a PoC or MVP and then develop that into a project, then a programme and eventually, a Center of Excellence.
4. Niche opportunities abound, don’t be afraid to be specific
Getting started with your headless CMS can be achieved successfully when done in narrow and specific ways to solve unique problems in a complex digital environment.
One K+C example is a client who uses the CMS to load email content and have it translated automatically; a process that replaces a time consuming, spreadsheet-based process that was challenging for all involved.
Just because we’re only solving a niche problem doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to capitalise on; this is especially helpful when starting small and trying to build momentum within an organisation.
5. Look for innovative ways to use MACH technology
MACH technologies aren’t just about rebuilding your website. They are an opportunity to deliver something unique and innovative.
Kin+Carta has a customer who has developed a powerful website builder that utilises a headless CMS. But instead of having non-technical authors edit directly within the CMS itself, they developed an innovative editing experience that simplifies and focuses their customers on very specific tasks. The result is an experience that the end users love and rave about while still maintaining the power and flexibility of modern, headless CMS tools like Contentful.