Matt Jones Matt Jones | 27 Oct 2016

I've visited hundreds of businesses and organisations over the past few years and the good news if you're reading this article is that you are not alone. I've lost count of the amount of organisations who are paralysed by the complexities of making this decision. Why wouldn't you be? 

CMS and CRM projects are big, disruptive and risky investments that can go terribly wrong. The key to being successful is to try to break the decision down into simple actionable elements that are not overwhelming. A precursor to that is garnering enough information available to make decisions easy.

So what are the cases?

1. The case for CRM before CMS

When we implement CMS projects for clients knowing what the CRM is in advance can be really useful. This allows us to consider which platforms on offer will have a suitable fit. It also allows us to ensure that we are not duplicating functionality and effort.

Our project with made the most of this approach. They have a comprehensive and extended CRM which drives their marketing automation activities and gathers insights from the Google Chrome Store. Once we had a firm understanding of the functionality in this system we were able to create a platform comparison document based on functions that we knew the CMS would perform. This included a bi-directional integration with Texthelp's CRM so we could pass leads to sales teams and share payment information.

2. The case for CMS before CRM

The negative side of CRM before CMS  is that it is relatively easy to ignore customer requirements when designing a system which is largely business user focussed. The knock on effect from a customer experience perspective is that poorly architected and/or inflexible CRM installations can compromise user journeys.

Without naming names we've had a number of clients where this has been a problem and it is a really tricky situation to overcome. From a client perspective paying two suppliers to arrive at a solution involving changes in two separate systems is far from ideal. From a supplier perspective there is often suspicion and competition as they jostle for strategic position.

Ultimately in these situations it helps to have adult conversations between suppliers. We took this approach to our project with SEB which went live earlier this year. Our team talked extensively to their CRM supplier, Pangea, to reassure them that we were not trying to cannibalise their business and to tell them that we ultimately wanted the same thing for our client. SEB got a good technical solution and we created a new partner.

3. The case for CRM and CMS at the same time

Every now and again I meet a maverick who wants to take on two risky projects simultaneously. Although implementing a CRM and a CMS at the same time might sound a bit crazy there is one situation where it is absolutely the right thing to do: When you are trying to transform a business very quickly.

Our project with ETOA a few years ago was very transformative and we are about to embark on another transformative journey with them. They wanted to radically improve member experiences with online being a key area of focus. By deploying two separate teams we updated their website and rebuilt their membership appointment management system at the same time. The result was a completely new experience for members within 6 months. If you are looking to do something like this expect a big bill and make sure you include end users throughout the project. This will help in ironing out teething issues that otherwise will take a long time to remedy.


Although pro's and con's to the 3 cases presented to you in this article, I would say for most of the scenarios I encounter starting a website first makes the most sense. My experience especially points towards website if the reason for change is led by marketing. Starting with website suppliers is a better way of opening up the conversation without getting stuck into meaty technical questions that require consideration from a range of stakeholders.

If you fancy a chat about a CRM / CMS project that you are planning, feel free to give me a call on 0114 279 2750