What to do when your CMS vendor is acquired?

In the web content management space, acquisitions are a fact of business life. About a third of all leading WCM systems are results of past acquisitions. For example, Adobe acquired content management capabilities through Day Software in 2010. Oracle acquired Fatwire in 2011, as well as Stellent in 2006. OpenText acquired Vignette (2009), and also HummingBird (2006), which already owned RedDot at the time. SDL acquired Alterian (2012) and Tridion (2007). The list goes on, with the most recent example being acquisition of Telerik by a global portfolio software company Progress Software.

For the customers of the acquired vendor this is not welcome news. Even when an acquisition is successful over the long term, the event still brings a lot of uncertainty in the months following the acquisition. It’s a stressful time, bringing many latent and long-standing issues and questions right to the surface.

Should you start looking for a new solution?

When clients seek our advice post-acquisition and ask whether they should start looking for a new solution, we give them an honest answer: it depends! The key is to make an informed, rational decision which takes into consideration your current requirements, vendor’s strategic plans, and your options in terms of implementation and ongoing maintenance of the solution going forward. To this end, we recommend asking the following sets of questions.

Questions to ask yourself

  • When did the last strategic review take place?
  • How does the new strategic direction impact requirements for a CMS?
  • What are your focal needs?
  • What is the estimated cost and timeline of migration to a different platform?
  • Does your current vendor continue to inspire you and offer you competitive advantage?
  • Stay in touch with industry peers from other organizations.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • What are the reasons behind the acquisition?
  • What are the expected synergies and projected revenue model?
  • What is the roadmap for the product post acquisition?
  • What are the future plans for the acquired company’s:
    • leadership
    • account management
    • support services
    • partner network
  • What customer events are planned in the near future?
  • Will the terms of your existing contract be honored?
  • What are the broad strategic plans of the parent company? How does acquired CMS product fit into these?

Questions to ask your service provider (digital agency, systems integrator, or in-house team)

  • What CMS vendors do you partner with and why?
  • How does CMS vendor support you in your work?
  • Did you receive a formal brief/update on the acquisition from CMS vendor?
  • What are your plans with respect to future CMS implementation projects using the acquired product?
  • What is your estimate (cost and time) for migrating our website to an alternative platform?

This blogpost was first published on Digital Clarity Group website in 2014.