Cost/Benefit Analysis: Justifying a CMS

When exploring the need for and feasibility of implementing a content management system purchase, these are some of the criteria to consider.

  • Quantitative benefits: Productivity, efficiency and costs
    • What activities can be eliminated, freeing up user time?  
    • What tools and systems can be retired and their support and/or licensing costs eliminated?
    • What file storage costs can be saved or consolidated?
  • Strategic benefits
    • What additional value can be generated? For example, revenue generation, market entry

Getting Started: What to Assess

Before beginning an implementation, it’s helpful to assess the current state of the content and existing systems as well as aspects of the business environment, including user needs and business goals.

  • Business priorities
  • User needs/research
  • Content usage and requirements for reuse
  • Frequency of content updates and additions
  • Content roles and responsibilities within the organization
  • Organizational change readiness and stakeholder buy-in
  • Number of content items to be contained in CMS
  • Number of content types
  • Level of granularity at which to store content
  • Content formats that need to be supported
  • Number of discrete content workflows (including publication, revision, archiving, tracking, reporting)
  • Number and location of content sources
  • Number, type, location of additional systems the CMS must interact with (e.g., product catalogue, inventory databases, CRM systems, etc.)
  • Additional activities to support—e.g., metadata creation, storage, tagging

Strategy and Architectural Considerations

  • Functional requirements
  • Content management architecture
  • Technical architecture
  • Taxonomy and metadata strategy and schema
  • Implementation plan
  • Maintenance plan
  • Who will maintain post-implementation?
  • Workflow and governance
  • What are the needed roles?
  • Does content need to go through a review and approval process?

Detailed Design Tasks

  • Run proof-of-concept scenarios
  • Evaluate vendor CMS packages against detailed requirements
  • Develop detailed implementation schedule

Implementation Considerations


  • Level of customization needed (buy or build to support?)
    • # input templates
    • # presentation templates
    • # file imports
    • # formats
    • # user segments
    • # source feeds
    • # applications to integrate
  • CMS software licensing costs
    • Per server
    • Per user
    • Component modules and other add-ons
  • Staffing
    • Will additional staff be needed or can existing staff be repurposed?
  • Training of staff
    • Includes creation/acquisition of documentation/training materials
  • Hardware
    • Are additional servers or other hardware needed?

Cost Considerations


  • Software licenses
  • New staff
  • Training
  • Hardware
  • Maintenance