Four Approaches to Adopting a New CMS

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March 2024

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Based on your organization's goals and criteria, choosing the right path for CMS adoption is essential for transforming your digital experience.

Adopting a new Content Management System (CMS) is a pivotal move for organizations looking to remain competitive and agile in the digital space. Selecting the right CMS solution can have a dramatic impact on a brand’s performance, level of customer engagement, and degree of operational efficiency achieved, among many other things. Given everything an organization stands to gain by selecting the right CMS solution, you might assume it’s a decision that’s always approached with a high degree of due diligence and rigor, right?

In our experience at Stellar, that’s not always the case. This discussion explores four distinct approaches to adopting a new CMS. Each approach comes with a unique set of pros and cons while delivering one or more perceived key benefits – Purchase & Pray, where speed is the main driver; Lift & Shift, involving a direct migration of existing content and functionality; Rip & Replace, a radical overhaul of the current system; and Analyze & Act, a data-driven approach to CMS solution decision-making. Whether you’re navigating uncertainty, seeking efficiency, embracing innovation, or prioritizing analytics, understanding these potential approaches is crucial for a successful CMS adoption journey.

Purchase & Pray highlights the risks associated with decision-making driven by a schedule.

Approach 1: Purchase & Pray

The Purchase & Pray approach to adopting a new CMS is all about speed and involves making a quick decision on a solution without thorough analysis or strategic planning. Organizations opt for this approach with the hope that the chosen system will meet their needs without in-depth evaluation. This strategy may lead to suboptimal outcomes, as the selected CMS might not align with the organization’s long-term goals or specific requirements. This method highlights the risks associated with decision-making driven by a schedule, emphasizing the importance of a more deliberate and informed approach to CMS adoption for sustained success.


  • Speedy Decision-Making: This approach is the fastest way to acquire a new CMS, making it suitable for organizations with urgent requirements.
  • Minimized Upfront Investment: With minimal analysis, the upfront costs may appear lower, making it initially attractive for organizations with budget constraints.


  • Risk of Mismatch: Rapid decision-making may lead to selecting a CMS that doesn’t align with the organization’s long-term goals or specific requirements, resulting in functionality gaps.
  • Unforeseen Issues: Lack of due diligence may result in unforeseen challenges, such as compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, or scalability problems.
  • Missed Opportunities: By not thoroughly exploring available options, organizations risk missing out on innovative features and advanced capabilities offered by other CMS solutions.

While the Purchase & Pray approach offers speed and potential cost savings, the associated risks (especially farther downstream) highlight the importance of a more deliberate and informed strategy for sustainable CMS success.

Lift & Shift is suitable for rapid deployment but should be weighed against optimized performance and evolving business needs

Approach 2: Lift & Shift

The Lift & Shift approach to adopting a new CMS involves transferring existing content and functionalities directly to the new platform without significant modifications. This method prioritizes a quick transition, minimizing downtime and operational disruptions. While offering immediate continuity, this approach may not exploit the full potential of the new CMS, and may ultimately replace an inefficient old solution with an inefficient new solution. Careful consideration is also needed to ensure compatibility between systems and to address any legacy issues. This strategy suits organizations seeking rapid deployment but should be weighed against the long-term benefits of customizing the CMS to optimize performance and align with evolving business needs.


  • Quick Deployment: The primary advantage of the Lift & Shift approach is its speed. Organizations can transition to the new CMS rapidly, reducing the time it takes to realize benefits.
  • Cost-Effective: Since it involves minimal customization, the upfront costs are often lower compared to other adoption strategies.
  • Minimal Disruption: Users can continue working with familiar content and workflows, minimizing disruptions to daily operations.


  • Missed Optimization: The approach may not take full advantage of the benefits offered by the new CMS. It might also perpetuate inefficiencies present in the previous system.
  • Limited Innovation: Organizations may miss opportunities for innovation by not exploring and leveraging the advanced features of the new CMS.
  • Compatibility Issues: The new CMS may not seamlessly integrate with existing systems, leading to potential compatibility challenges that need to be addressed post-migration.

While the Lift & Shift approach offers a quick and cost-effective solution, careful consideration is necessary to balance speed with the need to realize the full potential of the new CMS.

While Rip & Replace promises a fresh start…careful planning and a focus on minimizing disruptions are critical

Approach 3: Rip & Replace

The Rip & Replace approach in adopting a new CMS involves discarding the existing system entirely and implementing a new one from scratch. This bold strategy aims for a clean break with legacy issues to drive innovation and improve functionality. While offering a clean slate and a fresh start, this approach demands significant time, resources, and potential disruption during the transition. It is suitable for organizations seeking a comprehensive overhaul, prioritizing modernization and flexibility. However, careful planning and thorough consideration of data migration and user adoption are crucial to mitigate challenges associated with such a radical transformation.


  • Innovation and Modernization: Rip & Replace allows organizations to leapfrog technological constraints, implementing a state-of-the-art CMS for improved efficiency and innovation.
  • Customization: With a clean slate, organizations can tailor the new CMS to precisely meet their specific needs and requirements.
  • Long-term Strategic Alignment: This approach ensures that the CMS aligns perfectly with the organization’s current and future goals, avoiding compromises tied to legacy systems.


  • Disruption and Downtime: The transition from the old to the new CMS can lead to significant disruptions in operations and downtime, affecting productivity.
  • Resource Intensive: The approach demands substantial resources in terms of time, money, and effort, which can be a deterrent for some organizations.
  • User Adoption Challenges: Employees may face challenges onboarding to an entirely new system, requiring extensive training and potentially impacting initial productivity and operational efficiency.

While Rip & Replace promises a fresh start and optimal alignment with organizational goals, careful planning and a focus on minimizing disruptions are critical considerations for a successful transition.

Analyze & Act demands a more deliberate and time-consuming process contributes to long-term success and optimal CMS performance.

Approach 4: Analyze & Act

The Analyze & Act approach to adopting a new CMS prioritizes a methodical and data-driven process. It’s the process we recommend to all of our clients at Stellar. This strategic approach involves a thorough analysis of organizational needs, market/platform research, and informed decision-making before selecting a new CMS solution. This approach ensures optimal alignment with long-term goals, efficient resource utilization, and well-defined implementation plans. While it may extend the decision-making timeline, the emphasis on strategic planning and developing a comprehensive understanding of organizational needs translates into big dividends over the life of both the CMS project and the CMS solution.


  • Informed Decision-Making: The Analyze & Act approach ensures that decisions are based on a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s requirements, reducing the risk of selecting a less than ideal CMS.
  • Optimal Alignment: By conducting a detailed analysis, organizations can choose a CMS that precisely aligns with their long-term goals and specific needs, fostering sustained success.
  • Efficient Resource Utilization: This approach minimizes the risk of investing resources in a CMS that does not meet expectations, ultimately saving time and money in the long run.
  • Strategic Planning: Organizations can create a well-defined implementation plan, considering factors such as data migration, user training, and post-launch support for a seamless transition.


  • Extended Decision-Making Process: The meticulous analysis involved in this approach may extend the decision-making process, potentially causing delays in CMS adoption.
  • Upfront Resource Intensity: The initial stages of analysis may demand more resources compared to quicker strategies, requiring commitment and patience from the organization.
  • Market Dynamics: Rapid technological advancements might slightly outpace the analysis phase, necessitating ongoing evaluations to stay ahead of emerging trends.

While the Analyze & Act approach demands a more deliberate and time-consuming process, its emphasis on informed decision-making and strategic planning contributes to long-term success and optimal CMS performance.

Which Approach is Right for My Organization?

Selecting the right CMS approach involves a systematic evaluation of your organization’s needs, goals, and resources. Begin with a comprehensive assessment, focused on understanding current pain points and future objectives. Conduct thorough market research to explore available CMS solution options and their capabilities. Consider factors such as budget, timeline, and your organization’s appetite for disruption. Analyze and prioritize features crucial for success. Engage stakeholders and generate alignment around the overall goals and objectives for your new CMS solution.