CMS selection: Drupal, Sitecore and Coremedia

Let's take a look at CMS capabilities from a prospective enterprise client's point of view. A good place to start is with industry reports and evaluations to shortlist from the many CMSs on the market - for example, Gartner's web content management Magic Quadrant:

[The web content management system (WCM)] has become the central point of coordination for initiatives involving the enterprise's online presence, and these initiatives have become more sophisticated and more important to enterprises' business strategies... The functions that make WCM effective today differ from those that mattered most when WCM primarily served the operational role of feeding content to websites. Today, WCM products need to work with a wide and growing range of content types — social media is the big trend now. WCM products must also support the enterprise's efforts to engage employees, customers and partners via mobile devices. And WCM products have to work with a wider range of systems — analytic applications, e-commerce platforms, database management systems and so on. As a result of these trends, many IT leaders have to upgrade or replace older WCM systems with new technology that can handle more complex and critical tasks.

Source: MQ for WCM

This recent Magic Quadrant is particularly exciting because it has included Drupal, for the first time.

Visionaries are forward-thinking and technically focused. For example, their products may have unique multilingual capabilities or set the market's direction through their innovation and product development.

Source: MQ for WCM

Government and enterprise request for tenders for new WCM/CMS

We have both responded to large RFTs (request for tenders) and also helped organisations prepare them.

Usually the process for Government tenders looks something like:

  1. Develop a list of required features/functionality e.g. Publishing workflow must send email notifications when draft is ready for review
  2. Develop a set of non-functional requirements e.g. Page load times must not exceed 38.6 seconds
  3. Mention preferred technologies if an RFT or distribute to select respondents if an RFP/RFQ (For Australian Federal Government projects, if the anticipated cost is above $300K, it must be an open/public tender to which any company can respond. Otherwise it's a closed RFQ/RFP (request for quote/proposal) which is sent to a select group of respondents.)
  4. Score responses and invite high scorers for demo/pitch
  5. Score some more and negotiate contract with pitch winner

Scoring the CMSs based on a set of criteria/list of features has been the defacto selection methodology for years. While it's reassuring to have a quantitative number supporting your selection rationale, we would argue that scoring a CMS based on list of required features often results in a sub-optimal choice.

Step away from the features list

Only recently have we seen a slow shift away from the list of 'requirements' criteria, that usually don't manage to elicit anything beyond a Yes, CMS X provides workflow rules management and doesn't give a clear idea how such functionality will benefit your particular organisation and staff.

A far more meaningful way to assess a CMSs suitability is to develop a set of scenarios, providing the context within which desired functionality would be used:

Functionality vs Scenario
Publishing workflow must send email notifications when draft is ready for review Whenever a page is created or edited, by content authors at any one of the twelve divisions, a ready-to-publish email notification must be sent to the nominated Executive Editor

Drupal, Sitecore and Coremedia in Australian organisations

The leader in the Australian CMS marketplace would seem to be Sitecore. But we're going to look at just these three CMSs, which we know are in use by Federal Government agencies and enterprise corporations:

All three are in Gartner's web content management Magic Quadrant, so what differentiates a CMS with a licensing fee of a few $100K, from one that is under $100K, from one that is free and open source?

If we had taken the features list comparison route, we would be could make an informed decision ;) knowing that all three did indeed provide non-technical user-friendly content-editing tools.

Whereas if we had taken a scenario-based approach, we would know exactly how each one would empower a divisional content author to manage their own messaging without contravening the agency's editorial and style policies.

Editing content using Sitecore

Sitecore provides a rich and sophisticated editing environment, all from within a web browser (click to expand images):

Depending on permission-levels, an author can be provided full-fledged Content Editor access or streamlined Page Editor access (click to expand images):

Editing content using Coremedia

Coremedia's uncluttered content editing interface is *very* appealing. Especially neat is the way they have tucked away all the meta information (taxonomy/tags, settings, etc) in the left-sidebar horizontal tabs:

Editing content using Drupal

Drupal's out-of-the-box editing interface is quite clean and uncluttered:

Our preference is to frock it up with the Admin module, which tucks the administrative menu into a collapsible sidebar:

We also love the way the meta information fields are positioned in Drupal distribution, Open Atrium's, edit form. And we're pretty excited to see how the UI evolves further in the upcoming Drupal 8 release:

Key takeaways

All this scrolling! Just to say:

  1. Be sure to include Drupal in the mix when looking at heavy-hitters in the WCM space, it's very exciting to see Gartner including it in their Magic Quadrant, alongside prominent proprietary CMSs
  2. When selecting a CMS, think about scenarios instead of scoring features' lists to help with your decision making

Want to debate the merits and drawbacks of CMSs, including Drupal, with us? Let's chat :)

Image credits: (1) 2012 WCM magic quadrant by Gartner (2) Gilbane slides by Seth Gottlieb (3) Sitecore screenshots by RMC.eduCMSHarbor.com, JEFraser (4) Coremedia screenshots by CMS Critic & Content Manager (5) Drupal screenshots by Four Fighting Foxes, Open Atrium & Drupal Watchdog

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