Agencies need to be aware of how clients are now accessing “value” and look at ways to deliver that value in a scalable, profitable way as the trend for in-housing continues to gain momentum.
Drupal lead, Dries Buytaert, mentioned in his 2017 retrospective that clients are increasingly driven by time-to-value and low cost of maintenance as they look to manage the total cost of ownership of their digital properties.
“Time-to-value and low maintenance costs are emerging as two of the most important differentiators in the market. This is consistent with a post I wrote eleven years ago, in regards to The Ockham's Razor Principle of Content Management Systems. The principle states that given two functionally equivalent content management systems, the simplest one should be selected. Across both the low and the high ends of the market, time-to-value and total cost of ownership matter a great deal. Simplicity wins.”
While agencies clearly want and need to grow revenues this must be weighed against the need to provide value to their clients. Additionally clients are increasingly aware of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as a concept and are looking beyond initial build costs and looking at the outlay over a set time period. In some fast evolving markets this may be just 2-3 years in others more than 5.
Agencies therefore need to look at the elements that make up TCO and see where they can increase the value they offer.
The key elements that make up TCO:
1. License fees
One key decision to be made when approaching any new site build is the choice of CMS and specifically whether to choose open source vs proprietary. A case can be made for both but with the increasing power of open source platforms and the flexibility that they bring, more and more organizations are opting not to be locked in to proprietary licensing which, for the better known platforms, can run to hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum.
2. Creating and managing web content
While all reasonable CMS’s allow for editing of content and the creation of new pages based on templates, creating new layouts and/or complex editorial pages usually requires developer/agency intervention. Innovations in low code platforms such as Cohesion DX8 are changing this dynamic and making design pattern thinking available to clients which in turn allows them to craft more engaging digital experiences for their users.
3. Website refreshes
Websites are not static. A company’s brand and products evolve over time and so must their digital presence. How much will it cost for these refreshes? How much can you do through your CMS vs having to redevelop? Platforms that don’t allow you to iterate easily end up costing more in the long run.
4. Site longevity
How long will your sites be live before they need rebuilding? Building on a platform that allows for scalability, iteration and integrations is essential or you might find that your clients need to invest in a new website more frequently than you would want to. While this may seem attractive on one level it may lead to you losing the business full stop. Carefully planned technology choices can add years to the useful life of your websites.
5. Opportunity cost
What could be done with the budgets and time that are currently being used for day-to-day maintenance, bespoke development or external platforms to supplement the CMS? If you and your clients had more budget available it could be refocused on creating enhanced digital experiences for their customers, driving their businesses forward rather than being used maintaining their existing infrastructure.
These are only some of the key considerations when looking at Total Cost of Ownership. Available skills, existing legacy platforms and of course customer/business needs also need to be considered for example. What is clear however is that agencies need to be aware of how clients are now accessing “value” and look at ways to deliver that value in a scalable way.
Drupal 8 and Cohesion DX8 offers agencies the ultimate combination of powerful CMS features, scalability (for future requirements) and design flexibility to allow agencies and their clients to reduce their total cost of ownership considerably.