Without a doubt, I know Content Management Systems. Over the past 15 years working in Web marketing and development, I have come to know the in's-and-out's of content management. As a result, I’ve been able to respond to feature requests, plan out development cycles and show the value of a platform. Regardless of how I was involved with a CMS project, there always seemed to be the same speed-bump: the IT team.
IT, or IS (Information Systems), play a much needed role in any company, and things would likely fall apart without their expertise. But that expertise does not extend into marketing decisions. Ultimately, I believe that the marketing teams are as much to blame for my rant, but it seems that IT always gets involved with making a marketing decision, which never made much sense to me.
I see the logic: a CMS is software; software runs on computers; IT makes our computer decisions; IT should be involved in selecting a CMS. Also, it's not often that someone outside of IT will do software purchasing. But in the end, the role of IT should be incredibly limited when it comes to Web Content Management.
Here is why:
1. Your IT team can't handle the project. Unless you have a specific Web development team or have done a complete Web redesign and deployment in the past 3 years, your IT employees are not prepared for this project. Because of this, your IT staff will make a decision based on how easy they think it will be for them to develop and deploy. Ease of deployment should be a requirement, but shouldn’t supersede your other marketing needs.
2. IT does not want to own the maintenence. After the dust settles, your IT team does not want to be involved with maintaining your software. I recently spent a 7-hour car trip with a college friend that works in Information Systems for a large organization. He explained to me that every new piece of software that comes through the doors requires someone in IS to become an expert. Because of this, the team starts to thin its resources between CRM, CMS, ERP, DMS, and any other system that can be described in three-letters. This is on top of the day-to-day management of information infrastructures in the company (e.g. maintaining work stations, fixing phones, keeping the network running, removing your viruses, etc.). By involving IT in your CMS decision, you are burdening that department with software that they do not want to maintain.
3. IT does not understand marketing. Unless IT involves you in network security decisions, they should not be involved in your marketing decisions. As much as CMS vendors will fight this statement, a CMS is quickly becoming a commodity. Because of this, you need to find a system that best fits your team & your needs. Test driving is critically important. If your IT staff won’t be the everyday users of the CMS, their idea of usability will not be the same as yours.
Because large Web projects like redesigns and CMS implementations are such infrequent projects, it is important to have a full strategy in place. To this end, it is in the project’s best interest for you to hire a service partner that does this on a regular basis. Many will already have CMS experience, be CMS neutral and will be better equipped to help you make a decision.
At the end of the day, your IT department will appreciate you for not getting them involved in the decision. If they don't, just give them a peace offering of donuts.