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A Fair Review of the Top Mid-Market CMS for 2020

Gary Eisenstein

By Gary Eisenstein

July 28, 2020

Insights for: Anyone evaluating or considering the purchase and deployment of a new web content management platform solution.

Today’s web content management systems — also known as CMS or WCM — offer much more than website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools. A modern Web CMS touches almost every department; from sales and marketing, human resources, all the way to administration. A CMS empowers your organization with the ability to create and maintain powerful, personalized customer experiences, yet, 42% of companies polled indicated they still don’t have the right technology to manage their content.

CMS-Connected’s review of the top web content management platforms is designed to assist and guide organizations that are in the process of evaluating a CMS solution by providing an in-depth analysis of the leading mid-market vendors. Reviews of enterprise content management (ECM) platforms will be released in future editions. All platforms included in this publication are reviewed and updated every 90-days.

What Makes this a Fair Review?

This review compares platforms that are in the same market space — mid-market. Mid-market systems are often inaccurately compared with either small businesses or stratospheric enterprise content management offerings. Put simply; there is little to no value in comparing $5,000 to a $100,000,000 licensing structure.

The web CMS platforms included in this review are all comparable in core feature sets and costs, but also unique in what they market as their key differentiators such as cloud, headless, SaaS, versionless, and so forth.

Who’s Included and What’s our Review Criteria?

Click on the vendor logos below to access their review
Acquia
Agility CMS
Bloomreach
Coremedia
Crownpeak
e-Spirit
Episerver
Kentico
ProgressSitefinity
Sitecore

The criteria that each platform is judged upon is listed below:

  • North American footprint
  • Leadership and industry recognition
  • Selection of standard features and functionality
  • Well-defined differentiators
  • Headless and/or decoupled architectures
  • Cloud capabilities
  • Digital experience platform (DXP) offering
  • Ability to integrate with pairing technologies
  • Stable platform with an active number of deployments
  • Strong customer references
  • Presales and post-sales support
  • Trained, certified, and experienced integration partners
  • Clearly defined future roadmap

The methodology that we use is based on our tech reporters and analysts attending vendor events and seminars, in-depth reviews of each platform in a sandbox environment, and one-on-one interviews with the vendors, partner agencies, and customers that routinely use the platform.

The criteria that CMS-Connected does not consider:

  • We do not grid the platforms into leaders, visionaries, challengers, or niche players. There are far too many internal and external factors for this rating method to be of any true value to the buyer looking to deploy a best-fit solution.
  • We do not consider a vendor’s sales revenue. This tunnel-vision viewpoint may result in a misleading advantage (i.e., sales revenue versus profitability). What CMS-Connected does assess is overall company stability, reputation, and executive leadership experience.    

The Integration Factor

Once you fully realize the fact that implementing a WCM project will cost you three to five times as much as the software licensing fee, you will then begin to understand that it’s critical that you put as much debate and planning into selecting a best-fit implementation partner as you would in selecting the Web CMS platform. The integration, by far, will be the most important decision you will make during the entire WCM project. The fact is, no matter how exceptional the software might be, selecting an inexperienced implementation team dramatically increase the odds of a failed project.

An effective starting point is requesting a list of three recommended implementation partners. You also want to ensure that these partners are not only trained and certified, but they also have a successful history of deploying complex WCM solutions and are trusted by the vendor as worthy ambassadors of their brand. Evaluating a large number of implementation partners for a complex WCM project is not a recommended practice unless you’re focused on the lowest bid instead of hiring the team that will offer you the greatest probability of success.

Additionally, bigger is not necessarily better. A common practice with large agencies is to have senior team members working with you during the sales and initial project planning stages, only to have them hand over the project to a junior dev-team or an offshore firm to deploy to keep their profits high. This strategy can work if the agency has meticulously adhered to the methodology with a highly refined project and communications process. But is it worth the risk? Selecting an agency that will assign seasoned professionals that work faster and far more responsive from beginning to end, including the post-project support stage, should be the focus.

Finally, we highly recommend hiring an independent WCM consultant to help you write a proper RFP document for the selected implementation partners to quote from. The money you spend on a consultant upfront will save you thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars and the inevitable sleepless nights you will have during the project lifecycle as a result of a poorly written RFP. Feel free to contact us for a list of experienced WCM consultants in your region.

Final Thoughts

All the platforms reviewed are viable options, and the similarities between them are far greater than their differences. Regardless, the only sure-fire way to select a best-fit solution for your organization once you’ve narrowed down the platform that best matches your technology needs, feature requirements, and budgetary concerns, is to request a personalized demo or even better, download a sandbox version and start exploring, making sure your unique business needs can be addressed.


Copyright notices and disclaimers
The contents of this review are protected by international copyright laws, database rights, and other intellectual property rights. The owner of these rights is CMS-Connected Media Corp. All product and company names and logos contained within or appearing on this review are the trademarks, service marks, or trading names of their respective owners. This document may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission of CMS-Connected Media Corp. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the information and content of this review were correct at the date of first publication, neither CMS-Connected Media Corp., nor any person engaged or employed by CMS-Connected Media Corp., accepts any liability for any errors, omissions, or other inaccuracies. Readers should independently verify any facts and figures as no liability can be accepted in this regard — readers assume full responsibility and risk accordingly for their use of such information and content. Any views and opinions expressed in this review by individual authors or contributors are their personal views.

 
Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 26-years and is a Principal Analyst at CMS-Connected Media Corp. and is the Founder and CEO of Falcon-Software Company. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on how to evolve your digital transformation journey, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cmscmedia.com.