The CMS Lifecycle: From Testing to Continuous Improvement

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June 2024

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Your organization has spent all this time getting alignment from the business, gathering requirements, evaluating vendors and platforms, and finally, making a selection for the right CMS that best fits your needs.

But the work doesn’t stop once the selection and implementation have been completed. To secure sustained success and avoid future setbacks, you must commit to fostering cross-department collaboration throughout the platform’s lifecycle – testing, launch, training, enhancement evaluation, and beyond.

Pre-Launch Testing
Comprehensive pre-launch testing ensures the system delivers on all desired functional and non-functional expectations before its general release. During the testing stage, IT confirms performance benchmarks for infrastructure elements, like load testing, failover/redundancy during crashes, and disaster recovery. Meanwhile, your marketing team can evaluate authoring tools, content workflows, and omnichannel publications to ensure they meet organizational needs around personalization, campaigns, and governance.

Any issues detected during this two-path testing should be remedied as a priority before launch. Sufficient time should also be allocated for any final content migration. Additionally, fully integrated site templates and front-end code need staging across digital channels. To ensure system stability during these pre-launch activities, code freezes may be periodically required which halt development.

Once your CMS goes live, marketing and tech teams should work together to analyze user behavior on the platform. These insights will allow for the dialing-in of personalization algorithms while also optimizing infrastructure elements that impact experience delivery. IT-marketing collaboration at this pivotal stage helps ensure both technical and experiential aspects continue maturing in tandem.

Comprehensive training is integral during the rollout.

Training & Feedback
To familiarize users with new CMS capabilities, educational sessions should be tailored towards the specific roles that work with the platform daily, such as content administrators, campaign managers, and digital marketers.

Your training program should cover both governance best practices around content policies and standards, as well as hands-on functionality, from content creation to leveraging data-driven insights. It’s also important to provide channels for direct user feedback on any usability hurdles or desired customizations to boost productivity. These insights can have a huge impact on the enhancement roadmap. With that in mind, make sure to plan regular catch-ups between your tech and marketing teams to discuss potential improvements, big or small.

Continuous Improvement
The philosophy of continual alignment and improvement should carry through your ongoing CMS operations. As business initiatives evolve with digital experience technologies, needs also change. What worked initially may require reconfiguration to enable a higher level of personalization, localization, or customer journey expansion.

To stay ahead of the curve, you should schedule quarterly reviews with the aim of revalidating CMS performance against key metrics, such as authoring efficiencies and audience growth. You should also workshop emerging requirements from connected martech integrations to trend-driven content delivery on emerging channels. This approach will ensure the platform scales in step with corporate strategy.

It’s also important to continually analyze technical metrics – such as site latency, multilingual publishing success, or sandbox refresh timing – to catch any creeping issues.

Monitoring both business and technology metrics connects individual teams to the same improvement KPIs.

Upgrade Planning
Typical CMS upgrade cycles range from 12 to 18 months. Planning should start by building current-state architecture diagrams detailing all integrations, customizations, and dependencies—these illuminate upgrade complexity and risks, guiding version selection to balance new capabilities with your migration effort.

Upgrade testing should mirror initial launch testing through integrated sandbox environments. Content staging workflows will also follow similar patterns. New features, meanwhile, should be progressively rolled out post-upgrade to simplify your training and change management initiatives.

Collaboration Creates Synergies
By fostering a culture of collaboration throughout the CMS lifecycle, you can ensure your new platform delivers on its promise. From pre-launch testing to ongoing optimization, working hand-in-hand across departments – IT, marketing, and content creators – will turn your CMS into a strategic asset that drives both business growth and exceptional customer experiences.