I worked with a large national insurance broker. They had a need to improve their online delivery across a number of hub sites (12) including head office. One of the key objectives was to reduce the number of man hours spent manually updating small hub sites. Historically they worked in WordPress for all the hub sites, each one being a stand alone website, using their internal development team.
The number of hub sites and maintenance was becoming an issue so they begin researching content management systems (CMS). The internal team had reviewed the market and not really made any headway on the type of CMS that would suit their needs. This was largely down to not defining a clear set of requirements and objectives for what they wanted the system to deliver.
There was a consideration to make publishing content to multiple hub sites as easy as possible without having to update content across many different accounts.
The initial research had identified Sitecore, EpiServer and Adobe CMS as contenders, however budget then became an issue. ExCo had signed off a budget based on finger in the air forecasts and so the budget only really covered the cost of the CMS and no implementation costs; IA, design, development etc.
They decided their knowledge had run its course and brought me into help. It made a nice change to be brought in at the beginning to help with an issue than when it’s almost too late to change course!
The first tasks I undertook was a review of where they had got to and the decision processes undertaken. I ran a few high level workshops to establish the actual pain points that needed attention.
The outputs highlighted a number of areas that had not been considered – shared content, publishing, licensing costs ongoing to name a few.
Other items that had not been thought through were site architecture, content production, brand and imagery – all needed to be brought together to allow any agency to deliver the final solution.
it became apparent that a full scoping and RFP document was required to allow the client to to market for a suitable CMS vendor and agency to deliver.
What I did
Tendering process, brief written, CMS review and shortlist, gold partner agencies selected, agency interviews, agency selection.
The next phase of work entailed pulling together a thorough RFP document that could be sent to shortlisted agencies to respond to. However the first consideration was how to tackle the budget and CMS licenses. I reviewed Sitecore, EpiServer and Adobe CMS and came to the conclusion that they were potentially over specified and would mean an ongoing license fee needed based on number of hub sites – which were growing annually.
I reviewed the available CMS solution available and following negotiations with the vendor we settled on Kentico Xperience CMS, with unlimited domain publishing.
The RFP was and extensive document outlining all the key functions the client required from the CMS.
Working with the client we reviewed a number of Gold Partners to ask to tender for the project, and shortlisted 3 for the process. My role then moved into liaison between client and agency. This kept the client at arms length from the agency allowing the process to be as fair as possible.
The 3 agencies each responded to the RFP, which was reviewed in detail against a scoring matrix; this allowed us to show due diligence should the project ever be audited later.
We then invited the agencies in to deliver a short presentation, 1 hour, meet the team and answer questions. Following the presentations the idea was to visit each agency to look more at their team, offices and other work. Unfortunately this hit at the same time as COVID and the lockdown so all site visits were cancelled.
Unfortunately at this point the client pulled all budgets and took the project in house. The client made their own choice on agency (without my input) based on a 1 hour presentation that was undoubtedly the slickest, but did not answer many of the technical questions that the project needed to address.
The client took the project on through the lockdown period and when they got back in contact after 9 months they had only just got to the design phase. It sounded like the project was not going well.
Update May 2021:
The technical build had been completed and is back with the client. This has been the case for over 6 months as the client is preparing the content ready for input. Once again the content generation has been the largest part (and main blocker) of the project, highlighted to the client at the outset, but has not been resourced properly.
To this date the site still waits for a launch.