Compare Top Content Management System Solutions

2019 Content Management Systems Buyer's Guide

There are many different CMS solutions available. Which one you select will depend upon your business needs. Given the wide variety of CMS software, it is important to understand the different types of solutions before investing in one.

W-CMS vs. DMS: Understanding CMS Terrain

The distinction between web content management tools and document management software is fundamental for understanding today's CMS marketplace.

Web Content Management Software (W-CMS) is oriented towards the creation and publication of online content. This may include website content, social media and online storefronts. WordPress is an example of a commonly used W-CMS tool.

Document Management Software (DMS), in contrast, is designed for storing data and documents that are not designed for public consumption. DMS solutions are a great way to improve a business's organizational efficiency by reducing the amount of time employees spend digging up files.

But the distinctions don't end there. There are a number of subcategories within W-CMS applications. Here are some of the most common types of W-CMS tools:

  • E-commerce CMS applications enable users to create and maintain an online store. Examples of e-commerce applications include Magento, Shopify and Bigcommerce.
  • Most business websites offer visitors the opportunity to interact with the business, whether through orders, contact forms or another mechanism. E-form applications record customer transactions, oftentimes integrating with CRM software. Canvas, Integrify and Pardot are some e-form applications currently available.
  • Intranet W-CMS programs are designed to be used internally, distributing content to employees and partners. W-CMS solutions that offer an intranet option include Digital Active and Kentico.
  • W-CMS publishing programs facilitate the publication of content to the web. This includes not only text-based content, but also video, audio and images. Hubspot, Joomla, and WordPress are examples of publishing applications.
  • With social media being such an important part of today's digital landscape, there are specialized W-CMS programs designed to streamline the social media outreach of businesses. These applications make it possible to update multiple social media accounts from a single program. Examples include HootSuite, Elgg, Pigg and SocialEngine.
  • Compliance with legal regulations is easier to ensure and document.

There are also subcategories within DMS programs:

  • The term 'business process' is broad, referring to any business activity designed to achieve a particular goal. Business Process Management (BPM) software systemizes business processes to help them run more smoothly, reducing human error. Typically, BPM software standardizes workflows and tracks changes to a high volume of documents. BP Logix Process Director, Everteam BPM and Intellect BPM all offer BPM software solutions.
  • Case Management Software helps to record business processes such as claims, requests and complaints. The software expedites these procedures by automatically generating appropriate forms. Note that Case Management Software can track customer transactions in more advanced ways than a CRM program, although integration between CRM and Case Management Software is helpful. Many Case Management Software solutions are oriented towards particular industries, such as law or healthcare. IBM Case Manager is one example of a general Case Management Software program.
  • Contracts with customers and partners are essential to business operations. Contract Management Software stores and tracks changes to contracts. Agiloft, Coontract Logix and Novatus Contracts are Contract Management Solutions.
  • Digital asset management (DAM) software can be used to organize and store a wide range of multimedia files, including video, audio, and images. DAM programs may also include functions for uploading content. Some commonly used DAM programs are Box, IBM Enterprise Content Management, and kiteworks.
  • With social media being such an important part of today’s Internet, there are specialized W-CMS programs designed to streamline businesses’ social media outreach. These applications make it possible to update multiple social media accounts from a single program. Examples include Elgg, Pigg, and SocialEngine.
  • Paper records can be digitized with document capture and image processing software. Documents are scanned and then converted into digital files that are fully searchable thanks to OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. Examples include Kodax Capture Pro, Kofax, and Office Gemini Dokmee Capture.
  • Software programs for product information management (PIM) store information about products for retail businesses. This typically includes product data, pricing, information related to distribution, and other data that is critical for marketing and selling products. Commonly used PIM programs include Asim, inRiver, and Salsify.
  • Records management programs archive company records, providing online storage and easy access to materials when necessary. Some programs available are eFileCabinet, Flight, and PinPoint.
  • Personifying the trend towards data collection, reporting and analytics software extracts information from company content, and can be particularly useful for generating reports demonstrating compliance to government standards, which is particularly important for industries such as the healthcare sector.

There are several variants of reporting and analytics software depending on the data to be analyzed. Examples of reporting and analytics software programs include Host Analytics Business Analysis, Tap Analytics and Zoho Reports.

Benefits of using CMS

Both W-CMS and DMS software offer a myriad of benefits to users. Here are just some of the ways in which businesses benefit from investing in CMS solutions:

  • Employees spend less time tracking down necessary documents and information.
  • Paper documents can be converted to digital documents, allowing easy access on your network. This may allow businesses to save resources on file storage.
  • Because file sharing is now easier, collaboration among employees in different departments or locations is facilitated.
  • Relationships with long-term customers improve thanks to Case Management Software that closely tracks all customer interactions.
  • Online and social media presence is improved with W-CMS tools that make content creation and sharing easier.
  • Compliance with legal regulations is easier to ensure and document.

Critical considerations for buyers

With so many CMS solutions, the buying process can be quite complex. To determine which solutions best meet your needs, sit down and consider the following questions.

  • Will the content stored in your CMS program be for publication or intra-office use?
  • Who will be accessing this content? How many people will need access, and does this number include the entire company or just members of an individual department?
  • If content is to be uploaded to a website, what platform and hosting service is your company currently using? Do you anticipate this will change in the future?
  • Will you be converting print documents to digital files? How many documents will need to be converted?
  • Are there legal restrictions or other privacy considerations for the documents to be stored?
  • Which business operations do you want to systemize?
  • Will your CMS solution need to integrate with other software, such as a CRM program?
  • What is your budget for a CMS solution? Would you prefer to subscribe to a service, or pay a one-time fee?
  • How much time will be required to train employees in the new CMS program? Can this program be easily integrated into existing workflows?
  • How will employees be accessing CMS programs through an office computer, home computer or a mobile device?

Special considerations for enterprise buyers

While businesses of all sizes benefit from CMS solutions, enterprise buyers face a particular set of considerations. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) denotes CMS solutions that are designed for large-scale use. Typically, ECM refers to DMS programs to be used by large-sized companies on a company-wide scale (rather than an individual department).

ECM solutions should provide Master Data Management (MDM) tools. MDM creates a centralized system for data sharing within a company. With properly implemented MDM, all critical data will be linked to one master file to be used across the company.

Enterprises seeking to implement a CMS solution may need to integrate CMS with other software systems that are used company-wide, or software that is used by particular departments. Before investing in a CMS program, ensure that it will integrate well with tools already in use (unless you seek to replace other programs entirely).

Types of solutions

In addition to the many subcategories of CMS solutions previously described, there are many industry-specific variants designed to meet the needs of particular businesses. CMS programs typically follow one of two pricing models.

Subscription model

With the subscription model, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), companies pay a monthly subscription fee for CMS programs. Fees are based on the number of users and amount of data used. This model is advantageous for businesses whose needs are flexible.

Licensing model

When using software with a licensing fee model, users pay a one-time fee per computer. Different software companies have different regulations about how many users may be allowed on to a single license. While this model includes fewer recurring costs, updates, support and other features may need to be paid for separately.

Open source vs. proprietary

Many commonly used CMS tools, especially W-CMS tools, are open-source, meaning that they are free and maintained by user communities (WordPress is a well-known example). While open-source platforms can save money, some users prefer to purchase proprietary programs that offer more extensive support. Extensions are widely available for both open source and proprietary programs.

In general, most open-source W-CMS platforms use the programming language PHP or Java, while proprietary platforms may use .NET or another language.

Vendor landscape

Both W-CMS and DMS are huge software categories full of players both large and small. Some available products cater to individual industries or businesses of a particular size.

Although both proprietary and open-source solutions are available, the best-rated tools tend to be proprietary. Leading vendors in the W-CMS space include Adobe, IBM and Oracle. Recently, IBM and Box have collaborated to produce new CMS tools. In the DMS space, current industry leaders include M-Files DMS, eFileCabinet and PaperPort Pro.

Industry trends

CMS solutions are constantly evolving to better meet users' needs. Here are some critical trends to be aware of:

  • CMS tools are migrating to the cloud, which provides numerous advantages but may also raise concerns about security.
  • Since collaboration is so critical to today's workforce, CMS solutions are providing users with more options for working collaboratively. Some CMS tools, for example, offer integrated chat functions.
  • Thanks to legislation signed by President Obama in 2012, industries such as healthcare, finances and governmental organizations now face more stringent requirements for digital recordkeeping and security. CMS solutions are adapting to meet these industries' needs and help businesses to document their compliance with legal regulations.
  • Mobile access is becoming more important. Many W-CMS and DMS tools allow users to access, manage and publish documents from smartphones and tablets. For today's increasingly peripatetic workforce, mobile accessibility is increasingly critical.