Oct 09, 2023

How to Avoid Spending Too Much on Your Next CMS

Edward Kapuscinski

Edward Kapuscinski

How to Avoid Spending Too Much on Your Next CMS

When it comes to finishing enterprise-grade technology projects — and staying within budget — speed is crucial. Unnecessarily long development cycles disrupt the general workflows of existing development teams, marketing teams, and other stakeholders.

Outside of the license fees, the development work is typically one of the more expensive aspects of switching out your content management system (CMS), whether you carry it out internally or with an implementation partner. Because time is money, you want this part of your project to go quickly and smoothly.

Here are a few areas that can affect how your CMS build will go:


If you can get by with strictly an out-of-the-box solution, you’re in good shape. Every customization that’s made to the core system both increases initial development time and makes future upgrades and development more cumbersome.

If a customization is needed, make sure to balance its requirements with the current and future budgetary impacts it will have.


Integrations and extensions with a new CMS are often tricky, leading to unexpected expenses or your teams being unable to utilize certain tools (or coming up with less than ideal workarounds).

Look to keep the number of integrations with different products within reason. Think along the lines of “Is it really worth $50,000 of development costs to keep from having to copy and paste some data once a year?”


The choice between hosting your site yourself or relying on a third party is a big one, with each having clear advantages and disadvantages.

Being responsible for your own hosting may seem like a smart idea from a cost savings standpoint, but unless your IT department is familiar with the systems you’re using, they may need to invest in training and skill-building for resources who may only interact with the system at crunch time.

It’s often a net savings to opt for vendor-provided hosting when that provides better service, better availability, and deeper knowledge of the platforms involved while recognizing an economy of scale.

You don’t want hidden business costs of your IT department having to hire a “CMS Admin” who will spend much of their time on TikTok.

Where to Watch Your Spending


“Look at all this fancy functionality we’re getting!” This is a long running trick of software vendors: They can get you to spend lots of money for functionality your team will never actually use. Unless your team is sophisticated enough to do data-driven marketing, you’ll likely never take advantage of multi-variate testing, so don’t be seduced by it during that all-important product demo. Keep a focus on your team’s real needs when evaluating a platform to purchase.

If you’re not sure which bells and whistles you need — and which ones you don’t —an objective third-party consultant can help guide you and save you time, resources, and money.


On the flip side, you don’t want to be penny-wise and pound foolish: Give your teams the tools they need to be successful today and in the future. It can backfire on you pretty quickly if you regularly have to try to reuse a component for something it isn’t intended for.

Similarly, you want to make sure that the tool you select, and the implementation that’s performed, accounts for the future goals of your organization. You may not have a customer data person on your team today, but if you expect to add those capabilities before the next big re-platforming in 5 to 10 years, you don’t want to find out your tools don’t have the functionality you need to support it.

This is one time to avoid thinking in terms of nickels and dimes, and it’s a delicate balance to ensure that you’re not actually stepping over a dime to pick up a penny.

Carrying Legacy Burdens

The web has been around for a long time, and chances are you’ve had a website for more than 20 years. Websites have a habit of growing over time, with many micro-constituencies for all their content and functionality.

It’s important to look critically at all of that content and functionality that you may be migrating from past versions of a site. Sure, that “send a digital post card” page was a lot of fun in 2005, but odds are, nobody’s using it in the age of Instagram. If nobody’s using it, you shouldn’t pay to rebuild it or migrate all its data onto the new version of your site.

Redundant Tool Selection

Traditional digital experience platforms (DXP) are end-to-end content management, publishing, and delivery systems with a CMS at their heart. They typically also include capabilities like digital asset management (DAM), e-commerce, personalization, versioning and change management, and social media integration, among others.

It can be a great way to go if you’re starting from scratch or want to replace pretty much everything from the ground up. But if you already have a personalization tool you like, there’s not much need to buy into a full-featured DXP that gives you another one. Many cost-effective alternatives are available if you only need individual pieces, both from up-and-coming vendors like Contentful and established players like Sitecore with their XM Cloud offering.

Take a good look at the current product landscape to make sure you select and implement a tool that makes sense for your needs. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a supercar when just need to go on an occasional grocery run.

Similarly, though, don’t be seduced by the seeming simplicity of modern headless CMSes that don’t give you the control over your site and content that you actually need.

Bottom Line

There are many potential pitfalls with a purchase as large and as crucial to your business operations as your next CMS. An objective eye can help you avoid them and save you a ton in the long run.

Our platform-agnostic consultants can be that partner. Schedule a call to talk about your needs and how we can help.

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