Digital managers are never done measuring how effective your web site is at driving your business. You are wearing many hats; you are responsible for increasing revenue; you are measuring your performance against new key performance indicators (KPIs). You also need to keep up with the latest trends and buzzwords in enterprise-level Content Management technology. In addition to that, you also need to manage your costs within your annual budget.
Easy, right? What do I do?
This will be a running series that goes over basic concepts, and “gotchas” that are often overlooked by managers, and that we often take for granted as consultants as “obviously understood” to help you manage your property. Consider this a series of tips, recommendations, and thoughts for you as you consider your next move.
This week’s topic will shed light on when it’s time for you to move from your current website.
Realize Nothing is Forever
A key thing for you to get across to your team, and the folks who may control the funding, is that websites have a shelf-life. It will be inevitable: You will need a new site. This is a fixed outcome that no amount of hope will change (despite pleading from finance “why we do we need a website again?”)
This is not a fixed product where you are given regular updates from somebody or something in the cloud. You need to assess (or ask your consultant or partner) how long your current content management system will be supported in order to avoid a forced and reactive decision based on increasing security issues (through using unsupported software), or how long you can support an increasing number of missed customer opportunities of not having the latest features for customer experience.
There is frequently a “digital divide” in the understanding of projects between digital practitioners, how many projects are understood by traditional business units, and finance teams.
If you are thinking about the future, or the future is forcing itself on you, consider an internal assessment, or look at our roadmap planning.
Acknowledge When Your Property Can’t Be Rebuilt
A hard question for many is knowing when to leave your old site.
At what point is it no longer profitable to fix it up? At what point can you no longer effectively add improvements to your site? A common scenario we see is when clients start spending more money fixing bad code in the long-run than if they scrapped their site, and built from scratch. Short-term it seems cheaper, but maintaining a project can cost more, and takes a toll on morale and your relationship with your vendor.
The tell-tale signs we see:
Your site has been built by multiple parties, or vendors.
Your developers start telling you “you need to refactor your code”. When you hear this it means your developers think your code has no real coherence to it.
Your site becomes brittle when any little change has a chance to introduce unexpected errors.
These factors mean you have a greater risk of managing cost, and ultimately customers, developers, and finance.
Define Your Business Goals and Find A Partner
The last tip that is critical, and is often greeted with “yes, we do this”, is having a clear sense of your business goals and understanding the digital drivers of your business. Why is this critical? This will determine how your site is built (and coming up with costs). This will allow you to build a site to meet your short-term needs, but with an eye on being sustainable for future development.
I have seen this more with non-Drupal projects, but a key thing to avoid is making sure stakeholders do not confuse your new build for answering your business questions. If this confusion is not resolved, your developers will most likely not build to the “right spec,” and again, will lead to unexpected cost overruns with risks that you will need ANOTHER site build to fully resolve your questions.
If this is not your core business, find a partner to assist you with this process. We have worked with great large companies like Synchronoss, Verizon, Flex, as well as smaller organizations, but in all in cases we take translating your business outcomes to appropriate digital strategies seriously. If it’s not us, bring in an expert to help guide you and be honest about your needs.
I’m always happy to hear your stories (both positive and negative) of how you approach your site builds, email at firstname.lastname@example.org