in Business

Part 2: $100,000 for a CMS?

In May I reported about an agency we have worked with that charged $100,000 for a content management system. A project that turned into 92 meetings just to spec it out.

Well, I have another story for you and this one is really bad.

Ok, so there is a multi-national company based here in Phoenix that wanted to have a new web site built and decided to use a company out of the Midwest. The development firm said they would provide this company with a content management system, backend office database systems, and of course a new web site. I’m sure the sales pitch was more elegant than that last paragraph.

Current situation is as follows:

#1: Development firm couldn’t do the design and so Tornado was pulled in to do the site design. Completed in December.

#2: Content management system is less about managing content than trying to be a hacked up version of Dreamweaver on the internet.

#3: Six months of piecemeal upgrades to site, attempts to deal with the CMS by building pages and now the multinational company is paying its staff to learn HTML.

#4: Midwest development company manages to explode budget from $30,000 to $102,000 with no end in sight.

#5: Five board meetings and several all nighters later, the multinational company decides they need help. They can’t even figure out how to work the CMS and the site is really ugly.

#6: Multinational company asks Tornado for help because they can’t figure out the CMS but they want to launch the site soon.

#7: Tornado recommends that multinational company consider dropping the CMS portion for the front end and picking something simple to manage CONTENT. Tells multinational company that they probably don’t need to be able to manage the style sheets dynamically for every page.

Sometimes knowing when to walk away from a bad deal is a sign of true leadership and while it takes guts, can often put you into a better position.

Sound familiar? It should, it’s the story of big corporations getting sold on robust technology that can do everything. Sounds good in the boardroom, works really bad in real life. I asked around and found out that this company expects to spend the same amount NEXT YEAR! Incredible waste.

I could go on and on but I won’t except to say that this company didn’t buy a content management system. They bought a complete site design and site management system. It’s something only web developers can figure out and this company is paying for it in a huge way.

Plus, their web site still isn’t up. And probably won’t be for another month or more!

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  1. yeah weve been contacted by a sizeable company in south yorkshire who’re in the same situation being quoted £10k for a CMS – our in house system sells off the shelf for £2k which they LOVE so i guess we’ll be getting more business from them 🙂

  2. I personally think some of these major firms would be better off hiring a small team for full time employment. Of course, if they make decisions as bad as this then that’s probably not a good idea either.

    Way to go Mark, looks like you have a thing going there.

  3. I think (probably) some of the cause for the huge decision blunders with the big corporations is that the people making the decisions know nothing about CMS’s, or web design in general. If they had someone making decisions who was knowledgeable about the internet, and also concerned about making the right decision (instead of climbing corporate ladders), we might not have this type of problem.

  4. I think some of that is right, but part of it is that these companies shouldn’t always even have content management systems.

    The amount that content really changes on sites like the one I’m talking about is laughable, and you could argue that for $100,000 a year they should just hire a web designer and make him ultimately responsible for the things that happen with the web site.

    Of course, if I really recommended that to my client they’d do it and we wouldn’t have a chance to work with them.

    There are obvious benefits on both sides of the place. By not having a person be in house they don’t have to employe that person, buy them software, computers, etc… and they get the benefit of being able to work with more people, less.

  5. Yeah, I think these big corporations have already decided that they need to spend $50,000 and any solution that costs only $10,000 simply must not be powerful enough.

    I don’t blame the Midwest company for taking on the CMS job in the first place. They probably figured they could first sell the client and then figure it all out. In some cases that is true, but it sounds like in this case they had never done *any* of this before.

    If I were a VP at the Midwest company and I had just been told that we sold a $50,000 CMS and had no idea how to build one, I would advise that we go out and research small web firms and offer them $20,000 to build the system and to teach us. It sounds like it’s inefficient, but it would have been a lot more efficient than what actually happened and they would have delivered on their promises!

    Good posting, Superman; I like these; post more like this!