Crownpeak Logo Posted by Crownpeak March 17, 2014

Build or Buy a CMS? How to Decide

Deciding whether to build a content management system from scratch or to go with a pre-built platform is a stressful process. But experts agree weighing the pros and cons is easier when organizations consider their exact needs and capabilities. 


According to Magnolia Americas CEO Bill Beardslee, organizations that go the DIY route can better control the pace of implementation, avoid having to research software options and build a system to fit their needs.

 "Your content editors and publishers know exactly what they want and together with your engineering team, can create and test wireframes," he wrote. "And before you know it, you are on your way to creating a product that fits nearly every need in your business."

However, there are downsides to building from the bottom up. First, he said, it could end up taking much longer than anticipated. Starting from scratch also means investing to evolve the software, keeping up a new budget and managing updates.

Figuring out every angle

Organizations should question every stage of CMS implementation. Challenging executives and employees to look at their own systems and be critical may be tough, but it’s necessary to make the rollout less painful, said Asia Matos with Marketing Technology Insights.

Questions she suggests asking include the following:

  • How does the skill set of the team fit each CMS option?
  • Will the business be changed once it adopts this new software?
  • What have competitors been doing? Are research companies agreeing with the way the organization is leaning?
  • Are there going to be any specific functions that need to be created or made to help the enterprise CMS platform flourish?

Perhaps the biggest question of all, Matos argues, is figuring out how much everything will cost.

"It's understandable why it's impossible to answer because the budget almost always changes," she said. "At that point, why give a number when it's going to change? It's still important to examine what the organization can reasonably afford to deploy since every CMS has a very specific price range."