This blog is part of our series on content management systems. Check out the next post, What to Consider When Choosing an Enterprise CMS, for an in-depth look.
If you’re anything like me, you’re scratching your head when you hear the term “enterprise web CMS.” You’ve got someone called an “architect” with bedazzling whiteboard skillz and you’re nodding along hoping no one asks you a single question. Trust me, as a technology director, I’m there half the time when I hear my team talking about new “web frameworks” or “computer codes” or “not playing Angry Birds in our staff meetings.”
So let’s start with the basics. “CMS” is an acronym that stands for “content management system.” A “web CMS” is a platform for authoring, editing, and publishing visual content on the web. Adding the word “enterprise” to “web CMS” does a couple things: it makes you sound totally business and increases the cost and complexity of any implementation by at least an order of magnitude. There’s a bunch of reasons why, but first let’s talk about some CMS basics.
Web CMSs let millions of people run personal and professional websites. WordPress, Drupal, Tumblr, Joomla, and Webflow are some popular CMSs that run tens of millions of websites. Seriously, WordPress alone runs over 60 million websites. These systems let users blog, share useful information, integrate with other web services, and more.
Some CMSs are even free and open source, so you (or your dev team) can add, change, and remove functionality as you see fit. You can host them on your own servers or you can pay for services that host them at varying cost tiers. And the features provided by these systems are empowering people to do amazing things on the web. It’s pretty incredible and it’s become a gigantic ecosystem.
Now, enterprise CMS is where things gets rich. An enterprise CMS allows large companies to run sophisticated websites with all sorts of complex features that support the large company’s complex needs. It allows different business units to have their own websites, that can share global features and design patterns. It lets companies host and share big document repositories with serious permission structures. It lets companies take their workflows and processes to the web. And it's generally expensive to implement, even if the software is free or open source.
In case you’re wondering, typical enterprise CMS implementations usually start in the six-figure range and can easily go into seven-and-eight-figure range. Yeah, really. Why? Because they’re hard to do and have real risk of failure. The bigger the implementation, the more stakeholders want input, the less agreement there may be. If a company has a lot of processes, then the CMS needs to work within those processes, which usually aren’t clearly defined or universally followed. The bigger the implementation, the greater the scalability needs.
It’s seriously tough.
So, what are the key concerns you want to start thinking about if you’re looking at an enterprise CMS? Here’s a list we hope will be helpful. And we’ll get more in-depth in some upcoming posts:
One other thing to note, that sets us up for some further discussion… implementation of an enterprise web CMS is rarely looked at in isolation. Rollout of a platform like this is generally part of a larger effort to modernize and improve the effectiveness of all the tools that tie together to form your digital ecosystem. If you want to talk about this stuff and need a little more depth or personalized information, let us know! We’d love to help.