So you have bought Sitecore, an incredible platform, anything but simple content delivery. It utilises an integrated approach allowing for incredibly rich digital marketing and content delivery capabilities, all in one place.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't stop there. You have bought a Ferrari in the hope of tearing up a race track and ended up using it to drive the kids to school twice a day. Not getting anywhere near to the upper echelons of the gear box and not leveraging even half of the more sophisticated tools that Sitecore has to offer.
Working with clients from a range of industries I have noticed that, although an incredibly powerful tool that can offer significant benefits to an organisation, Sitecore is also a complex piece of enterprise software, and due to the latter, is largely underutilised by many of ours and others clients.
It can be difficult to know where to start, the budget's already been spent and, although the website looks great, people are asking ‘what about those amazing features talked about at the start?’ They want the promise the platform offered in the beginning and it's hard to admit to your Board that you don't know where the “on” switch is for Sitecore awesomeness.
So what is holding companies back from utilising the tool to its fullest potential? Why can't they just switch on the Sitecore awesomeness button? We have come across lots of reasons, none of which have been lack of desire. We have witnessed:
- A lack of technical know-how / experience within Marketing teams.
- A lack of resource to be able to manage Sitecore effectively.
- Confusing terms and methodology, creating reluctance.
- Misunderstanding the term ‘out of the box’, leading to expectations around tool simplicity that often do not exist.
Although all of the reasons listed above are common, they all ultimately pair with the following issue:
Every team is unique, as is every website, and therefore, every Sitecore implementation. As such, it can be difficult to know how to apply the technology, methodology and taxonomy that sits within it in a way that is both ‘best practice’ and makes the most sense for your unique situation.
Take Sitecore ‘Profiles’ as an example. Working with a university or council in comparison to a B2B commerce proposition with a small product set, you immediately see a contrast. Whereas with the latter, you in all likeliness, have developed the site to accommodate four to six personas. Within a university (with multiple faculties) and a council (multiple service offerings) there could be an endless list of Sitecore Profiles identified. So where do you draw the line?
This is a question faced on every project and top tips, generic training materials and arbitrary rules will only get you so far. This true understanding of the tool taking six months to a year, at best, and consistent de-prioritization of Experience Platform activities in an effort to keep up with other, more pressing, needs.
So how do we truly support our clients in this scenario? Not just setting them up and leaving them to their own devices but helping them build solid foundations and teaching them to think for themselves?
Well, I believe you need to take them on a journey, demonstrate your expertise, hold their hand and explain the thought process, help them arrive at the conclusions themselves and give them the confidence to use Sitecore in the way it was designed to be used. Some time ago I set about the task of designing an offering to help customers to do just that and we called it the ‘Sitecore Experience Platform Starter Kit’ (consultancy I'm good at, names not so much).
So what is the Experience Platform Starter Kit? Essentially, you can break the starter kit into three parts: Consultancy, Configuration and Retainer. Each part complements the other, moving the customer closer to Sitecore utopia - a fully utilised experience platform through enabled and independent content editor/ marketers.
If your organisation realising the potential of Sitecore could be rated from one (just using the CMS) through to 10 (a fully utilised Experience Platform) where would you be and where would you like to be?
We do not claim, or really want, to get to full utilisation, at least not within the initial stages. Rather, we help our customers understand the fundamental principles that everything else sits on, lay down solid foundations and provide support over time to develop upon them utilising more and more of what Sitecore has to offer.
This, is what we have created.
If you'd like discuss how the Sitecore Experience Platform Starter Kit could be used help your organisation, I'd love to have a chat so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter if you'd like to keep in touch.