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Upgrading a CMS is hard but here’s why it’s worth the pain

Insights May 18, 2022

Upgrading your Content Management System (CMS) to the latest release can be challenging – but you could face serious problems if you don’t. Now might be the time to bite the bullet and embrace the upsides of upgrading – it’s vital to thriving in today’s digital-first world.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?

A CMS is central to how a business engages customers and wins prospects.

Most organisations extend their CMS with plugins, customisations, workarounds and integrations to deliver the functionality they need. If all is running smoothly, an upgrade can seem risky – pull one brick from the wall and it might all fall down. An upgrade needs resource from the hard-pressed IT department. Your website might need to go offline. A new version can mean updating customised code and replacing plugins. Users need training in new features and – if you’re an early adopter – you could hit bugs and teething issues.

Here we delve in to three serious downsides to not upgrading.

1.      Damaging security breaches

Every year sees increases in the number, sophistication and cost of cyberattacks.

In 2021, data breaches took an average of 287 days to identify and contain. Those taking longer than 200 days cost an average $4.87 million. 38% of that cost resulted from increased customer turnover, lost revenue from system downtime and difficulty acquiring new business due to damaged reputation.

Today, companies often deploy digital initiatives faster than they can be protected against cybercrime.

But security flaws present key points of entry for cybercriminals – a study in 2019 showed that 60% of breaches involved unpatched vulnerabilities. The longer a CMS remains unpatched, the more likely any weaknesses will be exploited. Plugins increase the risk – a CMS with more than 20 plugins presents a major security risk.

2.      Losing competitive advantage

Advances in marketing technology bring new ways to create rich, personalised experiences.

Businesses can deliver amazing content through channels ranging from websites, mobile apps and voice assistants to wearables and IoT devices. Marketers can deploy creative initiatives to meet the demands of the fast-moving digital world. With data from consumer interactions, they can use analytics and AI to tailor actions for maximum effect.

If your CMS isn’t upgraded regularly, you can’t take advantage of the latest features. That’s a problem if your competitors can.

3.      Increasing technical debt

A CMS is a complex component in an organisation’s tech stack. It’s often the central integration point for a host of other systems providing functions such as product management, stock, pricing and customer engagement. Upgrading the CMS can impact these systems as well as underlying technologies, such as frameworks, databases and messaging platforms.

Together, stack dependencies and CMS customisations create a web of technologies and code to support. Custom code and workarounds increase the risk of introducing bugs and incompatibilities – and can hamper efforts to modernise applications. Delaying upgrades increases technical debt, severely limiting business agility.

Fixing a major issue may require a full, unplanned and expensive upgrade.

Upgrading your CMS can be daunting – particularly if you’re several releases behind. But there are steps you can take to upgrade your CMS successfully, at the same time laying the foundations for smooth upgrades in the future.

Understand the stack dependencies

To upgrade successfully you need a thorough analysis of the dependencies and interrelationships of the CMS within your technical environment. With this understanding, you can manage the impact of the upgrade on the CMS and other components in the stack.

Tackle technical debt

An upgrade provides a great opportunity to take stock of the customised code, workarounds and plugins in your CMS. Assess whether core features and connectors in the new version could replace or reduce these bespoke components. Using native functionality improves security, reduces technical debt and increases business agility.

However, while the goal is to use standard product functionality where possible, we recommend taking a ‘baby steps’ approach to avoid the obstacles that usually accompany giant leaps.

Find the right skills

The first two steps require a team with detailed knowledge of the CMS architecture, dependencies and interfaces. They need to understand the customised code and interfaces and implement any required modifications.

In today's specialised world, few organisations have in-house resources with the necessary skills and experience to perform this work. It can be more cost efficient to work with an expert partner who has:

  • In-depth knowledge of the CMS and the vendor’s roadmap and update cadence
  • Real-life experience helping other companies with their CMS installations and upgrades
  • Business and development skills to analyse and update customisations, integrations and plugins

Your CMS operates at the interface between your company and the rest of the world. Its security is critical to your reputation and its functionality is critical to your growth and success.

Keeping your CMS upgraded is vital for both – and for the business agility that organisations need to thrive in today’s digital-first world.

Learn more about NashTech by visiting Maintenance & Support for Your Software Needs | NashTech (nashtechglobal.com) and why not arrange a call to discuss how we can help?

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