The Sex and Cash Theory for Programmers

How to Convince your Customers they need a CMS

20. November 2008 17:21 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (4)

Currently, I am dealing with one of my current clients.  They control a multi-national non-profit organization.  In the past they have used basic html to do the work for them in the web side of things.  They came to me through a person I knew and asked me to do very minor things for their web site. I agreed and started working with them.  There last request was to accept payment through the website and I told them to look at PayPal.  I thought it was the best bang for their buck.  Banks can charge an arm and a leg to manually enter things in while PayPal does it just fine. Most of the time, PayPal is much cheaper than what banks charge too. So I built them a PayPal system straight from Rick Strahls site. The next thing they started asking was a bunch of questions as in what can I do next, what can they do next and what can be done to improve apon this? Now they aren't very big, with a membership only in the thousands and much of the money is spent through the year.  So I decided to write them an email explaining what could be done with this organizations site. I decided to post it to show others why there is a need to have a Content Management System and hope it helps any other programmer trying to convince their customer to buy into a CMS.

I would like to title it "How to Convince you Customers they need a CMS"

Here is the deal.  I decided to go with the cheapest hosting possible when I purchased the space for $60.00 because of your budget.  It is another server hosted by GoDaddy.  Since its PayPal we are talking about. You are not required to have another server from another Service Provider to use PayPal, but for me to work using my programming languages ASP.NET, C# and SQL I needed another type of server other than what the company you were using had to offer.  Basically, since you wanted my work I needed to use GoDaddy (which is the cheapest hosting so far). PayPal doesn't have  restrictions as to what it uses as a server, but the application I build for you and the programming I do for you does have the restriction.  The $60.00 will be an annual expense once a year on or around the same date of this past week.

The way I look at it is that we are in the very early stages of development on what is formally known as a Content Management System(CMS). The best place to loosely define it would be Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_management_system. If we look at your organization at the base level.  We can see the organization requires most if not all of the following:

Required:

  • A membership database.
  • An event calendar and scheduling feature for the calendar.
  • A money management system.
  • A payment system. 

Extra/Additional:

  • A place to hold all your images and review them in a photo gallery.
  • A place to hold all your official documents.
  • A place to publicly display all your public information (Website).
  • A place to download any and all forms or documents relating to events and organizations.
  • A place to write and read all the news of your organization.
  • A place to create newsletters that can be emailed out to all your members once completed.
  • A blog for your organization.
  • A place to email all your members on a regular basis.
  • A place to host a forum which would allow all your members to communicate and chat amongst each other.
Above and Beyond:
  • Because your organization has several other organizations below it in a tiered approach, you could also host webpages for those different organizations.  It could have something like a main page for each and every member in your organization or team.  This can be seen for example in another online application such as facebook.com or linkedin.com.  This of course is above and beyond, but it is available.
Overall it would be a place to store all your information and data about your organization.  It would not only be a time capsule, but an evolving time capsule.  The software will belong to you.  If I disappear with no word, you will be able to higher another person with my same skill set that could help you develop more.  As for having the ability to update the application/webpages I create for you online would be difficult for a person in your shoes.  What do I mean by that?

ASP.NET and C# is not regular HTML that you might be used to.  It is an entirely new platform for developing web applications.  When I say new, I must say that’s it has been around for about nine years and is owned by Microsoft, so I do not see it going anywhere soon.

You will get all this with the $60.00 a year hosting through GoDaddy and along with my working costs.  You can achieve this with your other hosting company, but it would not be through me.  I am sorry to say, but I do believe the other languages that are used to develop applications like this could not compare with what could be built with ASP.NET and C#.

I hope that clears things up for you.

P.S. As an organization, I must imagine you do have a membership management system in place along with some sort of news letter system.  Both those systems could/would cease to exist once I built this for you.

Side note: All this information is completely dynamic. Once I build a “component” for your application, it will then pull data dynamically from the database.  This means that you can have an extensively large amount of information on a webpage without very many things to develop or need a programmer for.

I hope this all makes sense.
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Comments (4) -

Paul
Paul
11/20/2008 8:10:29 PM #

Hi Scott, very interesting post, can I give you an advise?  I used to be working for a small company where aside from development I had to do sales and support and other exciting things like that.  I found that my approach to sales was a wrong.  I as a developer was talking about how amazing the software was and how complex were the algorithms behind and all that, while my potential clients were not technical people and they did not care much about that.  I did not sell much, but my boss knew that I am not a sales person.  After a while we hired a guy to do sales, his success rate was much higher, I was wondering what gives, as I was proud of those few sales I made.  I found out that he was talking to potential clients about how would the software benefit them in terms of saved time / money, etc. never once mentioning the technology behind it.  He did not even go through the whole package demonstrated huge amount of options to the clients, and since he was dealing with business people who's intend was to save money / work faster then competition and so on, that's what he was able to get their interest with.

Just my opinion.
Paul

Avonelle Lovhaug
Avonelle Lovhaug
11/21/2008 10:48:26 PM #

I recently had this discussion with one of my customers. In my case, they were considering hiring someone to create a custom content management system for them. (They didn't know the term "CMS".) Since I create custom software we discussed it, but I almost immediately explained to them why they should not pay big bucks to hire someone to build something they could obtain for free (or for much less money than the cost of custom development.)

I mean, custom software is my livelihood, but there is no reason for customers to pay to reinvent the wheel.

Scott
Scott
11/22/2008 4:40:19 PM #

@Paul, Thanks for that Paul, You might just be right and I will have to write another email to my customer that explains to them the time and money they could save with it.  This could be like one of those light bulbs people have.  Might just be another way of thinking...

Thanks Sir.

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