What Makes a Web Content Management System ‘Fast to Deploy’?

You know that an effective web content management system is easy to use, feature rich, fast to deploy, and affordable.  A demo or trial of the product will help you to determine fairly quickly whether a system is easy to use; a sneak peek at the price tag and licensing costs will satisfy the “affordable” part of the equation. But what measures can you use to decide whether or not a system is “fast to deploy”?

First let’s discuss the environment, meaning the hardware and software configuration. The question to be answered is “Will the CMS play nicely on and with my existing hardware and software, or will I need to build this into the budget?”  If the CMS has to reside on its own server (or two), requires an Oracle database when you currently run SQL Server or anything else that means a costly  or time consuming change to your environment – then it immediately fails the ” fast to deploy” (and maybe even the “affordable” ) test. Of course, if your  environment needed these upgrades just to get your organization into the 21st century then the CMS can’t be judged by that at all.

Once you are sure that the environment is in place, you will want to focus your search on a web content management system whereby you are provided with everything necessary for implementation.  In general, there shouldn’t be any need to customize the product; for those exceptional situations when customizations are required, they will be part of an optional professional services offering that begins after deployment.

The components of a system deployment are installation, user training, and user testing. The entire process will take anywhere from one week to one month depending on the number of users to be trained and the scope of the project.  If a CMS can be installed in a couple of hours and user training and testing can be accomplished by the end of the week, then it’s safe to say that the product is indeed fast to deploy.

The following measures can be used to decide whether or not a system is “fast to deploy”. The answers to these questions should be an unequivocal “yes”:

1. Can deployment take place in one week (maybe 2 depending upon training requirements)?  – Of course if the system is installed in June, but various members  of your staff  will be on  vacation throughout July and training cannot commence until August, the answer would still have to be “yes” as that is a scheduling issue not a system problem.

2. Can deployment take place without product customizations? In other words, does the base product have everything that is required to produce your desired results?

3. Will your users be able to use the product immediately once it has been deployed, without any additional application configuration(s)?

4. Is product installation painless and simple? Will your IT department be able to install and verify the product quickly and easily (within hours and not days)?

5. Can the CMS software be installed on an existing web server and (peacefully) co-exist with other web applications, effectively leveraging existing resources?

Dave Berent

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