November 8th, 2019

Why Enterprise CMSs Are Not the Solution You’re Looking For

Author: Alex Beaudin
Alex Beaudin
Project Manager

Think twice before you sign yourself up for needless complexity and endless frustration.

It’s common for many businesses, as they begin to expand, to assess their various digital assets so that they can determine which can scale to match their projected growth. This is a great, forward-thinking attitude to have. Unfortunately, when it comes to CMSs, it can also lead to problematic choices that can stifle growth rather than encourage it.

Specifically, we’re talking about the enterprise CMS. These are large platforms designed for corporations, and they have a price tag to match. They’re also a tempting option, because they promise an abundance of special features that are supposedly necessary for success. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” then enterprise CMSs seem to be making a similar argument: buy the software for the business you want, not the business you have.

There are several flaws with this logic, not the least of which is that the link between a fancy CMS and future business success is tenuous at best. In fact, we believe that enterprise CMSs are a bad option for almost every business. Here’s why.

1. You’re going to overpay for a suite of applications and services you won’t ever use.

Enterprise CMSs often impress companies with the promise of possibility: Just look what you can do with our system! If you’re an executive trying to make a high-level decision for your team, this may seem persuasive. But if you stop to talk the decision over with the people who will actually be using this system, you may hear a different story.

Your team probably already has systems that they know well and are comfortable using, and they’re going to be quicker to identify features that they’ll never use. You’ll find yourself paying premium prices for features that you don’t need and that will only slow you down.

2. It will require extra training and expert assistance to use the system.

There are times when training and support are worth the investment. However, when you have to pay for support and invest in training to do tasks that your old CMS could handle much more effectively, then it’s hard to find the benefit. Large, complex systems needlessly complicate tasks and make it harder for employees to use the system effectively.

Instead, you want to look for a platform that is user-friendly. That way you will cut down on user frustration and make it easier to onboard and train new employees.

3. They’re hard to work with because they try to be a single-source solution for every problem.

The selling pitch of an enterprise CMS is that it will be the end-all and be-all of content management. No more extra tools, add-ons, or plug-ins. Instead, you have one, unified system. Sounds great, right?

But what this really means is that the system isn’t flexible. It can’t work with other systems because it wants to do everything itself. And because they have so much to maintain, their update system often lags behind what you need to keep your website up to date with emerging technology.

4. They offer solutions to problems that don’t exist.

Here’s another issue we’ve noticed: do you ever get the feeling that some of the features enterprise CMSs pitch your way are ones addressing problems you’ve never heard of? This goes back to the feature bloat issue we discussed earlier. Many of the big selling points of an enterprise CMS simply aren’t particularly useful or exciting once you look past the hype.

On the other hand, when you focus on the pain points your business actually has, you’ll be much more effective in finding a CMS that addresses those problems. You may realize that the “kinda nice to haves” of the enterprise CMS become irrelevant when the “must haves” are nowhere to be found.

5. They’re often closed-source, which means they lack community support.

We’ve talked in the past about the dangers of closed-source hosted platforms like Shopify that are designed for small businesses, and the same applies to larger, enterprise systems. A closed-source platform restricts the talent pool of people who can work with you on your website. It also limits the support community of people who may have already designed tools to address your problem.

By contrast, WordPress has an entire ecosystem of companies available to provide support and solutions to any problem you may have. You won’t have to rely on the enterprise update schedule, because there will be plenty of alternatives.

6. They’re hard to move off of once you’ve made the commitment.

Moving onto an enterprise system can involve a lot of burning bridges. For its features to work properly, you have to port all your data over from the systems you were using onto your new, incorporated one. If the CMS worked well, that would lead to a growth in efficiency. But that’s still a big if.

Put the shoe on the other foot: if your CMS transition doesn’t work, then getting back off the system can be just as much of a hassle. You’re going to be faced with the task of porting data away from a CMS that may not allow you to easily take it with you, and if you’re forced to leave some of it behind, that data is gone for good.

Bigger isn’t always better.

For most businesses, an enterprise CMS is absolute overkill. They’re hard to work with, slow to update, and rarely worth the time and trouble it takes to learn them.

Instead, we recommend WordPress as the CMS that is flexible enough to serve your niche and expand to match your growth.

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