My sister was incredibly excited. She was finally in a position to shop for and buy her dream car, a spiffy, sporty little two-seater. The catch? It only came with a manual transmission, and she had never learned to drive stick. So, when she went to do a test drive, she had to bring me along. I was the only one in the family who had ever learned to drive stick.
Of course, not long after making the purchase and bringing it home, she learned to drive it. There was a learning curve involved, and let’s just say that maybe she ran through her first clutch faster than an experienced manual driver might have, but she got the hang of it and was able to kick back and cruise along in her dream car.
Now, imagine a scenario in which she never got around to learning to work a manual transmission. Anytime she wanted to go somewhere in it, she needed to call me and ask me to give her a ride — in her own car. Imagine that she wanted to learn to drive stick, but learning that skill just kept getting deprioritized below other pressing matters.
I’d say she was not really reaping the benefits of her investment.
When a client hires a firm like ours to build out a new Content Management System for them, without hiring a new employee or ramping up someone in their organization on how to do development, it’s like buying a car and not learning how to drive it. Sure, they can contract out to a firm like ours to keep making the evolutionary developmental changes that the site will need as it grows. But most of the clients who hire us are looking to get to a point of self-sufficiency, to start getting a return on that investment, rather than continuing to invest in an outside firm. Oddly, though, it happens more than you might think.
Learning new skills or hiring a new employee can be daunting and time consuming. There are many other things that people may also need to accomplish that aren’t as hard or don’t take as long. Hiring someone with the needed skill set and experience can also be expensive. There are lots of reasons why it makes sense, in the short term, to not ramp up or hire the right person. But in the long term, it’s not an effective strategy.
One of the most important questions you should be asking when you are looking at adopting a new CMS technology — before any specs are developed or any code is written — is, “Who is going to maintain and evolve the system after the initial build?” You should be taking an honest look at whether or not you have the expertise in house already. And if not, asking yourself if you are willing to make the needed investment in time, effort, and delayed gratification to ramp up or make that needed hire before the end of the build phase.