What is an Agile CMS?

Adam Sturrock
February 7, 2021
5 mins

Headless, not all it’s cracked up to be?

Fragmented content systems with duplicated, decaying, or unsearchable content wreak havoc across enterprise organizations today. The headless CMS promised to solve these challenges but, in some ways, only made them worse. While the developer experience was addressed, separating the frontend experiences from the backend content repository was not enough and led to the marketing team losing control of the experience creation process thanks to the newly introduced developer bottlenecks. These teams have long been opposed to one another in their control over delivering a tailored customer experience and the headless CMS is only half the solution.

Thankfully a new flavor of CMS is arriving that builds on top of, and removes the shortcomings of, the headless CMS. The pendulum is swinging from content management systems that require deep developer involvement to the Agile CMS where IT teams and marketing practitioners are no longer at odds with one another. In short, an Agile CMS satisfies and aligns both IT teams and marketing practitioners with a common set of tools and shared purpose. Agile is now replacing the term headless when it comes to content management systems and if you’re an Amplience customer, we have great news, you’re already using an Agile CMS!

The empty promise of the monolithic DXP

Adjacent to the headless trend in recent years, Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) have promised to orchestrate the entire digital customer journey. However, many of these platforms have taken a proprietary monolithic approach to building and deploying their platforms. This has resulted in bloated, restrictive and difficult to implement solutions that don’t quite provide the seamless experiences and collaborative environments promised. This leaves marketing teams overburdened with complexity or underserved due to the prescriptive monoliths’ shortcomings, and therefore unable to execute with agile best practices.

What it means to be agile

For software developers the term agile is already well understood, having been popularized in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. The values and principles underpin a range of software development frameworks, including Scrum and Kanban. An Agile CMS shares many of the principles with Agile Software Development.

An Agile CMS is designed to be used by multiple teams across an organization and allows for rapid iteration to adapt to content management needs in order to drive seamless customer experiences across all channels. This is driven by rapidly changing customer expectations and the need for internal tooling that encourages and compounds the effects of successful collaboration.

The four components of an Agile CMS

So what is an Agile CMS I hear you ask? Thankfully Forrester has defined the term for us. According to Forrester, an Agile CMS should comprise each of the following four components:

The Content Hub

The Content Hub is a single repository for all people who work with normalized content, such as marketers, campaign managers and content writers. This acts as the place where your team can find and manage all content in a single place. The practitioner is no longer an afterthought, being forced to adapt to workflows designed by developers. Instead an Agile CMS’s Content Hub is designed with the end user, and their jobs to be done, in mind.

Collaboration and Planning tools

The second key component of an Agile CMS are the collaboration and planning tools. Collaboration and communication is key when embracing Agile methodologies and this extends into the makeup of an Agile CMS. Working with an Agile CMS maximizes the opportunities and best-practices for feedback and communication between stakeholders, planning collaboratively for new content and experience projects. These flexible planning and collaboration tools along with structured workflows, built-in best practices and standards accelerate time to market and improve ROI for your business.

Content Services

Building on top of the headless trend, an Agile CMS embraces the fundamental principles of headless by providing API-first content services to create, manage and track content at scale, powered by intelligence and governance.

This flexible API layer connects the Content Hub repository to customer experiences across all channels. This isn’t just to provide content for experiences in the now, but an Agile CMS is also optimized to handle potential unknowns and future use cases.

The Development Platform

The Agile CMS is still evolving and with it is the need to provide flexibility in the frontend technology choices and extendibility of the content management interface for developers and marketers alike. An Agile CMS is one that fits seamlessly into your existing technology stack.

Key takeaways

So now you know what an Agile CMS is and what the benefits of adopting an Agile CMS are, here are a few quick takeaways:

  1. Reduce your businesses time to market by leveraging a single Content Hub that is designed to streamline content collaboration, planning and workflows to create sophisticated customer experiences.

  2. Ensure the CMS vendor you select exhibits all four components of an Agile CMS.

  3. Having a headless CMS is not enough and will cause bottlenecks in your workflow and compound fractures in your organisation.

  4. Collaboration and planning tools are vital to ensuring smooth content production operations for your business.

  5. An Agile CMS is designed for and caters to both content practitioners and developers.

To see how Amplience stacks up as an agile CMS then you can download the Forrester Wave report. Also, feel free to get in touch and speak to our team of experts who will be able to discuss how an Agile CMS like Amplience can improve your cross-functional team collaboration and orchestrate customer experiences at scale.