Sitecore Malpractice Its not too late to Fix Previous Mistakes

Until about a year ago, the Sitecore partner landscape in North America contained a number of inexperienced partners. Recently, however, Sitecore has revaluated the Partner criteria and become more selective. Partners who never invested in knowledge and expertise surrounding the platform and its capabilities no longer exist. Unfortunately, these former partners created a fair number of sloppy Sitecore implementations that left clients in complete disarray and oftentimes highly frustrated.

The Sitecore software is typically the first target of blame. However, more often than not, the platform has little to do with the problems facing these newly implemented sites. Instead, the issue is two fold: Lack of strategy and lack of Sitecore experience.

Upon engaging in a new Sitecore project, it is imperative that the owner of the software and the project understands not only what Sitecore can do but how it should be done. Many owners of Sitecore do not understand (rightfully so) that implementing software this powerful takes a lot of experience from the Systems Integrator / Agency / Consultant and team of developers. It is important to understand that Sitecore is a very open, flexible, pluggable and scalable platform and that most projects on the platform should follow a predetermined roadmap. If not, the result is most likely a crazy quilt of ideas and random technology decisions not founded in a larger vision and strategy.

Sitecore sales staff and a number of experienced Systems Integrators do an excellent job at selling all the features of Sitecore. They make it look like a piece of cake to roll out. However, many implementations suffer from a huge disconnect between what was promised at the time of sale versus what is ultimately delivered at the time of launch. This is not the software’s fault. It is typically because of Sitecore malpractice by the agency implementing the solution.

Typical problems facing failed implementations include:

  • Lack of page editor support
  • No implementation or strategy surrounding the marketing and analytics features
  • Single site implementation, not easily allowing for multiple sites
  • Incorrect implementation of visual components causing lack of flexibility in designing pages
  • Overly complicated data templates with mysterious fields
  • Developer-oriented interface, not customized for the individual editors and their everyday work situations
  • No workflows or security protecting the editors from making human mistakes
  • A Media Library in complete disarray with random folders and media items spread out like a hurricane has hit
  • Inability to build new sections in the navigation of the site without the assistance of a developer
  • Deployments and updates to the solutions often break the site, causing heartaches and headaches for the editors managing it
  • Multilingual features of Sitecore not correctly implemented
  • Hard coded terms in code, defeating the purpose of owning a CMS
  • Lack defensive code and exception handling
  • Slow performing site due lack of understanding how to fetch Sitecore data efficiently
  • Unstable integration points
  • Not leveraging Sitecore tools standard values, branch templates and template inheritance

To be clear, there are a fair number of competent Sitecore developers out there that understand Sitecore best practices. In fact, poorly implemented Sitecore solutions are the exception, not the rule. Proof of this is in the growth and number of accolades Sitecore has received over the years. If you are reading this blog post with the interest in implementing Sitecore, keep this in mind: What sets a successful implementation apart from a failed one comes down to the people who build it.  It is imperative that when looking for a Sitecore Partner the stakeholders do their due diligence in selecting an experienced partner and not a partner that may excel in something else. Finally, looking for a long lasting relationship instead of a one-time-engagement should greatly aid in developing a successful Sitecore implementation.

For those of you who feel like you’re on a sinking ship, we want to stress one thing: Don’t give up. And don’t think it is the software’s fault. Own up to any mistakes and contact a competent, experienced Sitecore Systems Integrator. Let them assess the situation. Oftentimes, the damage can be corrected without having to start over.  You will be happy you did, because what looks like a nightmare scenario and system can actually be turned into a beautifully operating enterprise CMS with ease of use and powerful features combined in harmony.

It’s not too late!