Content Management

Help! What to Do When Your CMS Is No Longer Supported

reaching for buoyWhat happens when your CMS is discontinued by its vendor?

At OmniUpdate, we often hear that when web content management system (CMS) providers merge, customers are left to wonder about the fate of their CMS. In some situations, the CMS is no longer a priority, or providers choose to “sunset” the product by phasing it out over time. You can still use it, but your IT and web teams are on their own in terms of support and integration with new technologies.

Eventually, your college or university will have to switch to a new CMS, but for now, one question must be addressed immediately: Should you try to keep your existing system cobbled together as long as possible, or should you start the process of looking for a new content management system?

The Case for Status Quo

There are advantages to staying with a discontinued CMS—at least in the short term. The most obvious is money. If your school has invested heavily on your existing CMS, using it for as long as you can is one way to stretch your dollars. Just make sure your team and management understand that a discontinued product cannot support new technologies without workarounds, and problems that cannot be solved with a quick fix will eventually surface.

Another reason for continuing to use your existing CMS is timing. Asking for funding for a new CMS may not be in your department’s best interest if your school is in the midst of a big campaign or initiative. It could also be that your department has been charged with special projects that give your team additional responsibilities. Yet even if the timing is off, you should at least alert management to the potential pitfalls that will come with waiting.

Finally, it may be that your team simply doesn’t have the time to make the switch right now. After all, every CMS, no matter what system you choose, requires time for training and implementation. Planning around the busyness of the academic year is a strategy that many schools employ.

The Case for Change—Sooner Than Later

If you’re having nightmares about maintaining a discontinued product, there is good reason to push for a new CMS. Your first step should be to get the right support. Your institution’s decision makers won’t understand the urgency of your problem unless you can explain its implications. Call a meeting or send an email to stakeholders outlining security vulnerabilities, accessibility violations, and expected prohibitive updates for features or modules as a few of the ongoing issues your institution will experience with an unsupported CMS.

Likewise, it is important to get buy-in from all departments involved in vetting a new CMS by being inclusive and making sure the products you are considering meet the top needs of each.

Purchasing a new content management system can be an ideal time for an assessment of your website’s existing features—as well as a chance to reimagine your company’s digital roadmap by considering new features and functionality to make your site even better. Again, the more stakeholders you include across campus, the better your new CMS will be. Ask for a list of priorities they need from a CMS, challenges they have had with the existing system, and software they currently use so that you can ensure that the same or similar features are included in the new system.

Armed with a comprehensive plan for your institution’s CMS, it’s time to shop around. If you are required to issue an RFP, develop a solid one with questions designed to elicit detailed responses. Schedule time with CMS sales reps to watch demos and discuss features and specifications, and be sure to get a list of customer references. The best way to know how a CMS works is to ask an expert—a likeminded peer with hands-on experience in using the product.

If you’re faced with the reality of a discontinued CMS, consider making a switch to OU Campus. Easy to use, fully supported, and with a full suite of web design and engagement features, OU Campus makes it simple for you to collaborate, connect, and reach prospective students. Get in touch to learn more.

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