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How to harness the true power of Sitecore with an agency partner

Vision is where the true strength of your digital presence lies. In the digital world there are two main aspects to take into account to successfully bring your vision to your visitors and customers:

1. Define your strategy, do this iteratively and look towards the horizon.
2. Choose the right toolset and get the maximum value out of your choice.

Sitecore is an enterprise platform that enables marketers to create digital experiences. Sitecore has a number of tools, integrations and implementation approaches. This means that Sitecore can be quite overwhelming at first. There is a steep learning curve and plenty of dos and don’ts to take into account. Which is why it can be difficult to stay on the right path to realize your company’s digital vision.

In order to help you assess the need for a strong digital partner agency, we invite you to read through the items listed below. If you recognize your digital journey in any of the below items, contact us and find out where we can make a difference.

10 tell-tale signs you might be in over your head!

1. It is hard to keep up with the evolving product capabilities and best-practices.

The Sitecore platform is constantly growing and changing. From Sitecore’s beginning as purely a CMS, to now enabling marketers to create unique experiences for visitors. It is important to know what version fits best, which hosting environment meets your needs and what Sitecore tool should be used.

Agency approach – An agency can help you keep an overview of the different aspects regarding the capabilities of all the different Sitecore versions; what the recommended hosting options are, as well as what functionalities are covered by the platform.

2. How can we accurately estimate the cost of new business requirements?

More often than not, new business requirements need to be translated into new features or integrations within your Sitecore solution. However, the effort and cost required to have a correct estimation done before the actual business case can be created can become a blocking issue.

Agency approach – Providing free pre-sales effort is part of the package. Present your business requirements so it can be matched to your current Sitecore setup. This will allow the agency to provide you with a budget estimation that can be used to fine-tune and defend your business case.

3. Code changes have become complex and expensive and bring unexpected costs.

Code, logic and project teams can become complex and hard to manage or maintain over the course of time. Once multiple developers or teams have worked on the same project, code can become very complex as every developer has its own modus operandi.

Agency approach – Developers have to make sure that their code correctly adheres to the Sitecore Helix and agency guidelines. A direct result is consistency and well-structured code. But it also implies that teams can easily be scaled to meet changing development speed and requirements.

4. One of the team members is leaving us and is taking a lot of knowledge away.

From time to time, project teams change. Team members may take on different roles or find a new challenge. In short, knowledge on a specific part of your solution or code might disappear. How can we prevent this and how can we retain this knowledge as good as possible?

Agency approach – Working with dedicated teams helps to maintain working and functional knowledge of your business and brand. Knowledge sharing sessions, internal presentations and a well-structured knowledge sharing platform helps to retain team-wide project knowledge.

5. A new upgrade or product has been released, should we install it?

Sitecore has a clearly defined release cadence with yearly Minor and Major releases. Immediately upgrading might be a good reflex. However, it is important to keep tabs on any project specific modifications or patches that may impact the effort and feasibility of a potential upgrade.

Agency approach – A true Sitecore agency can help you evaluate every release, provide you with insights and a cost-estimate of performing the actual upgrade. Keep in mind that upgrades are often very delicate and need to be decided on with the correct information and vision.

6. Our digital platform is live but we have no idea how it might impact our SEO.

Website development requires a lot of resources just to realize the set of business requirements. This often results in less time spent to perform adequate testing on server response times under normal and heavy load but also on search engine optimization elements such as page speed.

Agency approach – Agencies work with mixed teams and a follow a set of checklists as a result of extensive expertise. This means that before a go-live a project is subject to a number of tests. This includes, but is not limited to code reviews, security checks, load tests as well as a full SEO audit.

7. IT has finalized development of our new digital platform, but how should I use it?

It can be rewarding to provide your colleagues with a finalized product. However, the art of training your editors to properly use the available features and tools can be even more challenging and time consuming. Finding the right person to provide trainings is challenging.

Agency approach – Hands-on trainings that cover both the basics as well as specific features, are provided to your team once the project nears completion. Also, the agile methodology provides demos after every project sprint to helps you see the solution evolve and avoid surprises at the end.

8. We are facing a recurring Sitecore problem or find a Sitecore functionality lacking.

Bug hunting can be a tedious task. And even when there seem to be no problems, errors may be flooding your logs. These errors tend to slow down the platform or create problems along the way. Resolving these problems can be a real burden on your project and its budget.

Agency approach – Experience with numerous projects, lessons learned and collaboration with Sitecore allows an agency to quickly resolve problems. The combined use of support platforms, Slack and Stack Exchange communities along with the dedication of senior developers and MVP’s, all potential Sitecore issues can be tackled.

9. Is Sitecore the correct platform for our Company? How is the platform evolving?

Once the first phase of a project has been completed, it might be interesting to know how future developments should be done. Should an existing Sitecore module be adapted to offer that specific bit of functionality that your business users need? Or are there new solutions on the horizon?

Agency approach – As an agency, attending various Sitecore events (User Groups, Symposium, and Partner Summits) comes naturally. These events provide inside information on the product roadmap. The Information gathered is used to provide the correct choices and product insights.

10. We have created multiple sites in Sitecore but have no idea on how to move forward.

Once your web platform has been realized and both content and connections have been created, it is time for the next steps. However, that is often the tricky part. What exactly are these next steps? How can we create and provide relevant customer experiences and what pitfalls should we avoid?

Agency approach – Very specific methodologies offer you the much-needed birds-eye view of your project. Interactive workshops will help define and set-up the Why, Who, What and Where of your digital platform to help you improve and measure your digital campaigns and interactions.

Learn how The Reference can help you achieve your vision with the Sitecore platform.

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