In our series on website implementation approaches, we’re examining four different ways to get your website implemented. In this post, we’ll talk about working with a third-party integrator or a design agency.
When You Hire a Third-Party Integrator
There are a few reasons you might decide to hire a third-party integrator. You may have an existing relationship with a design agency that includes CMS integration capabilities and you look to them to help you get the work done. Or you may decide to go with a systems integrator because you don’t have the time or experience to do the work internally.
In some cases, you may work with both a design agency and a systems integrator. It can get a little complicated working with two external partners, but you can do it successfully.
There is always a role your team plays even when the project is led by an external partner, including supplying requirements, reviewing and approving designs and information architecture, testing the CMS authoring and management system and final website and more.
Benefits of Working with a Third-Party
Systems integrators specialize in implementing web content management systems and building (or rebuilding) websites. Typically, they have experience with a given set of content management systems, sometimes one CMS only. They should know the CMS software well and are likely trained on how to develop and implement it through a partnership with the CMS vendor.
Working with a design agency can include both the redesign of your web experience and the implementation of that experience using a web CMS. When the agency supports both design and CMS software implementation, you have the benefit of one partner working with your internal stakeholders from start to finish. You should also have confidence that they can easily implement the design they create in the new CMS.
When you use a systems integrator to lead your website implementation project, they are responsible for ensuring the work is done on-time and according to the specifications developed between their team and your internal stakeholders. Most systems integrators are experienced leading these types of projects and have a defined project management process for a successful website delivery.
What to Watch For
If you haven’t selected the CMS to use for your website, you may be relying on your partner to recommend the best one. If the systems integrator has experience with a certain CMS or set of CMS solutions, they will often recommend one of these, not because it is the right choice for you, but because it’s the CMS they have experience with. Even if you work with the systems integrator to select the CMS, they will often steer you in the direction that works best for them. The situation applies to a design agency with CMS implementation experience.
While this is not always a bad thing, considering the CMS they recommend is one they have experience working with, it could lead you to not select the best CMS for your current or future requirements. It’s critical your internal team plays an active role in selecting the CMS and ensuring it can support your strategy for not only your website, but also other content plans you have.
Another thing to watch for is your partner recommending a different CMS from the one you currently use without taking the time to fully investigate if that CMS can support your ongoing needs. It may be that you only need to update to the latest version of your current CMS, or you can use the current version.
If your integration partner is new to you, ensure they have a relationship with your CMS vendor, or are at a minimum experienced in developing on that CMS. In either situation, you run the risk of paying for a new CMS when you don’t really need it or paying for development work because your partner doesn’t know the CMS well.
So far, we’ve looked at working with a third-party integrator, either a systems integrator or a design agency. Up next, we’ll discuss the benefits and things to watch for when working with the CMS vendor directly.