Over the years, Delphic has become accustomed to aiding clients who have had the unfortunate experience of getting stuck with a failed Sitecore implementation. While the exact circumstances might not have been the same (for example, maybe the hired vendor had never worked with Sitecore before, or maybe it wasn’t built with flexibility in mind for future enhancements), there is often one common theme: the right people were not involved from the very beginning.
Effective communication is crucial to any Sitecore project, however without proper governance and involvement from the right stakeholders (from planning to launch) you probably won’t fully benefit from what the Sitecore Experience Platform has to offer. You also stand the risk of ending up with a website that doesn’t come close to what was needed in the first place. These mistakes can be very costly (financially and opportunistically) – especially for those businesses who have invested in a large-scale Sitecore implementation that might integrate with several other systems.
So who should be involved in the process and to what extent? To help answer that, here are 4 common misconceptions to be aware of that, if not corrected, can lead to major disasters when trying to get a Sitecore site off the ground:
Misconception #1: The IT department should drive the Sitecore implementation
While it is true that IT plays a large part in implementing a Sitecore solution, it should not be the primary driver. If you’ve decided Sitecore is right for you, it’s probably not because of the programming language it was written in or the server requirements it needs to run. More likely it’s because you want to form a stronger relationship with your existing customers and grow your business by attracting new ones – which is exactly what the Sitecore Experience Platform is built for.
Sitecore is, first and foremost, an incredibly powerful enterprise-level marketing tool. In order to take full advantage of the Sitecore platform, it mostly requires strong Marketing/Sales foresight, expertise, and vision to drive a successful implementation. Unlike Marketing departments who are generally profit-centers unafraid to push the envelope and invest in groundbreaking marketing technologies, IT departments are commonly cost-centers much more interested in manageability and standardization. While those factors should be considered in every Sitecore project, they will not provide your implementation team with enough direction to build something that can help move your organization forward. That being said, it is still important that Marketing stakeholders have a good understanding of IT objectives (and vice-versa) as well as an understanding of the technical workings of the platform in order to make informed decisions.
Misconception #2: Sitecore just needs to be “installed” by IT, and then it’s ready for use
As much as we wish it were this easy, it’s just not true. Sitecore isn’t software that can be easily installed and ready for primetime in a few steps. Sitecore is actually a framework that can help you get an enterprise-level website up and running in a fraction of the time it would take if you built it from scratch. It still requires designers, programmers, and digital marketing specialists to carry out your vision of what your website should be. This vision, as mentioned above, will be driven by multiple factors that could involve many different stakeholders – especially those who understand the strategic marketing goals of your company.
Misconception #3: Marketing can wait until after launch to start planning
Sitecore gives marketing teams the ability to create customized experiences through the use of A/B multivariate testing, content personalization, SEO optimization and marketing automation. As great as this sounds, if you want to use these features you need to start planning for it before design and development starts. Decisions about content personalization can heavily impact how the site is built, and could result in a lot of work being thrown away and redone if left as an afterthought. This can easily blow estimates and budgets out of the water if not properly accounted for ahead of time.
Misconception #4: IT doesn’t need to be involved anymore once the site is launched
So let’s say you’ve made it through the planning, design reviews, construction, user acceptance testing, etc., and you’ve finally got yourself a shiny new Sitecore website! Then a few hours before your big official launch party, you send out an email blast to let the world know about it and within 10 minutes the site crashes because it can’t handle the sudden influx of traffic. Not only that, but you didn’t find out about it until you tried to show the site while presenting at the launch party. Unfortunately, IT wasn’t informed that there would be a large traffic event so that they weren’t able to properly scale the infrastructure up in time and save you from the embarrassment.
This is just one example of how a proactive approach to site maintenance and monitoring can help minimize the frustration that comes with surprise site outages. The truth is that servers can go down for all kinds of different reasons – no matter how solid your website is. Sitecore requires regularly scheduled performance tuning, optimization, security patching, and maintenance to ensure your site continues to run smoothly long-term.
Sitecore is an incredibly powerful platform that can bring a lot of value to an organization. It’s important to keep in mind that both Marketing and IT need to be involved throughout the entire lifecycle of a Sitecore project. Sometimes getting these two sides to work together effectively can be very challenging, and political pressures can often pose a serious threat to a successful Sitecore launch. In order to make this easier, Delphic often helps bridge the gap between client Marketing and IT stakeholders by providing the deep Sitecore knowledge and experience necessary for success throughout the entire Sitecore project lifecycle.