Do you need a Sitecore project guide?

You've decided to re-platform to Sitecore and want to get it right the first time. You've been through the sales demos and have bought into Sitecore's context marketing vision.  Now, how to execute on that vision. 

We talk to Sitecore customers all the time that have a phase 1 project that meets the listed functional requirements but doesn't include any of the real value that Sitecore brings.  They launch with high-grade brochureware - no personalization, no xDB, no customer journey, no engagement value…

Making the Sitecore context marketing vision a reality requires a bit more than your last 'web project'.  Key inputs include:

  • A solid digital strategy, that puts the customer at the center,
  • documented marketing operations processes, and
  • a well architected Sitecore implementation

So, what's the path to get there?  In most cases, new Sitecore customers need some level of guidance.  What type, and how much depends on what resources are available internally.

Development

We don't have any:   These customers are completely dependent on their implementation partner.  I'm stating the obvious, but selecting the right partner is so critical for this group.  Look for partners that reference well, have direct experience in your industry and have a back for communicate technical considerations in a way that can be understood by the layperson.  These customers want to make the most use of out-of-the-box functionality (SXA) and resist the urge to develop custom. 

We have development, no architecture:  These customers typically have some internal development skills, but need a best practice architecture to follow and processes to incorporate into their organization.  Look for partners that connect with your development team and are willing to work in a co-development model.  Plan to incorporate internal development into the project, if if it slows the project down and costs a little more.  The follow-on benefit outweighs the initial overhead.   

We have architecture, no Sitecore:   We've worked with larger clients that have extremely talented master architects and very well documented enterprise architecture.  These customers need an implementation partner that's technically sophisticated enough to understand and follow the enterprise architecture.  They also need a partner that can communicate Sitecore's feature set & architecture in the context of the customer's enterprise architecture. 

We have architecture & Sitecore:  The air is pure up here.    These customers are largely self-sufficient.  They typically look for staff augmentation, and perhaps niche assistance with specific modules (e.g., commerce, eXM, pXM, etc.)

Marketing

We have traditional marketing, but don't know digital:  When pressed, these customers will typically tell you that they don't know what they don't know.  They're often multi-generational organizations that have been doing traditional broadcast based marketing for decades or centuries.  They should be looking for a partner that has some background in legacy marketing, and has referenceable experience helping organizations make the jump to digital.  Young, digital only partners may not be the best choice here. 

We have some digital, but no digital strategy:  Most customers that we talk to fit into this group.  They have a reasonably well documented marketing plan and are dabbling in aspects of digital.  They're on social, doing some SEO, spending a bit on PPC & remarketing, sending out some campaign based emails and maybe doing some content based inbound marketing.  They have a lot of distinct tactics, but no enterprise strategy, and no way to keep score.  This group should be looking for a partner that can help them develop a comprehensive digital strategy - one that aligns with their traditional go-to-market strategy and is in the context of Sitecore.  Look for a partner who's strategy and marketing operations services follow the SBOS tenets. 

Note:  I'm using 'digital strategy' as a term that's easy to grasp for most.  In reality, 'digital' is just one part of an overall marketing/communications strategy.  The notion of traditional vs. digital needs to leave the vocabulary of marketers. 

We have digital strategy, but no Sitecore:  These customers have a documented strategy and are likely executing against it now with a series of point solutions (personalization, testing, email, etc.).  Their partner needs are typically limited to marketing operational training on Sitecore specific functionality (e.g., engagement plans, personalization, testing, eXM, etc.).  They'll also likely benefit from some insights into how to best use and customize Sitecore's analytics to fit their strategy. 

We have digital strategy & Sitecore:  Again, the air is pure up here.  These customers are largely self-sufficient. 

For new Sitecore customers that haven't yet amassed the necessary Sitecore skills internally, don't worry about it.  Put a corporate knowledge plan in place and build an internal practice on training.  If you want to make the most of Sitecore (or anything digital) you have to continually invest in training.