Wait, is that even possible? No software lasts forever. Technology changes quickly, and more importantly, so do businesses priorities. However, there are are things you can do to extend the life of a new Content Management System. Here are our top three.
Define and Prioritize Your Requirements
Shopping for a CMS is a lot like shopping for a car. Before you start visiting showrooms, you usually have some idea of what your basic requirements are. Are you looking for something fast and sporty, or something that can safely transport a junior softball team to practice? An impulse buy may be fun at first, but the novelty soon wears off and you’re left with an expensive toy that doesn’t really support your lifestyle.
Suppose you want the sports car, but your partner or spouse wants a minivan. If you visit a dealership before coming to an agreement, someone’s coming home angry. And think of the poor salesman who has to try to please both of you!
It’s normal to have varying, sometimes competing needs between stakeholders. Sometimes companies attempt to resolve such conflicts by letting the default features of a system dictate which way to go. Ultimately, this is a disservice to the business. Not only is it an arbitrary way to make a business decision, but in the mind of the “losing” stakeholder, the system itself is flawed.
Instead, determine which requirements are most important to achieving the goals of the project, department, or organization BEFORE you start evaluating software options. Go as far back as the company’s mission statement if you have to, but make sure your business needs are driving technical decisions and not the other way around.
Practice Preventative Maintenance
This is where the car analogy falls apart. When the kids grow up and move out, you probably won’t modify your minivan to make it smaller and sportier. You’ll trade it in for a more appropriate vehicle. But software is comparatively malleable and lends itself to modification.
Once you’ve launched a new site and CMS, don’t think of it as “finished,” think of it as a living thing that needs care and feeding. Expect it to need tweaks and changes to keep up with your evolving organizational strategy, business needs, and operational procedures.
When a new need arises, it’s tempting to find workarounds. But over time, workarounds accumulate and form an enormous gap between the system you need and the one you actually have. Better to set aside time and budget to keep things up-to-date on an ongoing basis than have to start over a year or two later.
Pick the Right Partner
Now that you’re committed to maintaining your new website and content management system, make sure you pick a design & development partner who shares this philosophy and will be in it for the long haul. Do they have ongoing business relationships with their clients or do they build a site and then disappear? Do they proactively stay abreast of emerging technologies and try to educate clients on relevant trends?
Unless you have significant design and development resources on staff, a having a good web partner is one of the best ways to ensure that your system doesn’t grow old and stale while technology evolves.
You may not be able to guarantee that the system you build today will last a lifetime, but if you have clear business priorities, a willingness to invest in maintenance, and a dedicated web development partner, your CMS will get plenty of mileage.
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