CMS Projects Fail, What You Need to Know: Part 2

In Part 1, I started discussing some of the most common reasons why content management system (CMS) projects fail. We covered change management, buying the wrong CMS, and lack of implementation resources. Onward!

Budgeting--One of the most common mistakes during CMS implementations is overlooking the cost. Once you realize you don't have enough money allocated for the implementation, scrambling to find partners and system integrators to do the work for cheap is less than desirable. Outsourcing to partners that lack expertise in the given system may backfire. The labor is cheaper, yes. The food served during site visits is more exotic, but you also need to get a sense of their experience level.

It might be a worthwhile investment to engage a few implementers to do the initial analysis of your requirements in the discovery phase. You get a more realistic quote, and the implementers get a chance to properly evaluate the effort they'll need to put in.
No matter which way you go when looking for implementation partners, evaluate what kind of experience they have, especially with the particular CMS you have chosen. Check references.

As a general rule, you should plan to spend three to five times the cost of software on the actual implementation.

Involve the End Users--Selecting and implementing a CMS is not a task accomplished solely in the upper echelons of your organization. End users should be involved in the early stages of your CMS selection project. At the very least, loop them in during the proof of concept or the very early stages of the implementation. Without the end users you may end up designing a system with poor usability, while not covering all the needed use cases.

CMS implementations usually involve heavy participation from business owners, marketers, analysts, social media folks, and content contributors. They help define requirements and test functionality, and they learn from developers and consultants how to use the system.

As your end users get familiar with the system, their input will be hugely beneficial in creating customized training materials and how-to user manuals. When end users are not involved, there's a good chance they will hate the CMS when you hand it off to them at the end.

Executive Buy-In--Executive buy-in and your leadership actively standing behind this undertaking should shine through, not just on paper but continuously throughout the CMS implementation and its daily usage. Executive buy-in and support is a great vehicle in driving your CMS project.

Also, there will come a point when you will need additional budget to upgrade, enhance, improve, customize, integrate, hire-you name it. If your leadership cabinet has been on board all along, it will be easier to convince them of the ROIs, TCOs, P&Ls, SWOTs, and other fancy acronyms they hold dear.

Internal Ownership--You want to give your core project team a sense of ownership by not only giving them a chance to be involved and contribute their 2 cents, but also by toasting to successes and rewarding them for a job well done. Involve larger parts of your organization as you go through the implementation process and (iteratively and in agile fashion) continue progressing to the next phases. Engage larger groups through a celebration of shared success to promote user adoption. Keep internal owners accountable for mistakes and areas for improvements.

Advocacy and Education--Nothing hinders the success of a CMS implementation as much as slow user adoption. Part of the solution to the problem lies in involving the end users, but another is investing in education. If people understand the CMS and how it works, they may eventually get excited about business benefits or a cool feature or two. Good vibes are important in the uneasy process of getting used to a totally new piece of software.

Education and advocacy are especially important when there are several camps that are not necessarily on the same page. To educate, host a "lunch and learn" and show off the latest functionality being developed in the current phase. Use industry conferences as an incentive for employees to learn more about your particular CMS with the idea of sharing that info companywide in follow-up presentations.