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Sitecore Implementation: Roles

This (intentionally short) blog post presents some of my perspectives on many of the roles involved in a Sitecore web Content Management System (CMS) and Experience Platform (XP) implementation.

Any organization implementing CMS must consider not as a product selection process and solution implementation, but as an ongoing and essential program for the organization. CMS and web delivery solutions often provide integration points between numerous other enterprise systems. The lifecycle of a web solution could be infinite, should involve numerous upgrades, is likely to involve multiple redesigns, overhauls, and possibly even new CMS implementations, will face constant new challenges and requirements for features, and would be lucky to experience growth and even spikes in content, traffic, and marketing value.

Developer

To me, developers come first because they are generally able to fill all of the important roles when needed. Some CMS programs consist of a single developer, so a developer may have to do everything required by every other role.

Developers are primarily responsible for implementing new features on the web site. Often, developers are responsible for much more, including at least analysis, architecture, design, testing, release management, debugging other people’s code, investigating issues in production, and troubleshooting network, hardware, and any other infrastructure conditions.

Executive Sponsor

Every CMS implementation should have an executive sponsor to champion the solution within the organization. The executive sponsor is most likely to see the potential of and/or to derive value from the CMS implementation.

The executive sponsor might not be a full time role for an individual. For example, several members of the board of directors may own aspects of a marketing web solution, including the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, and the Chief Revenue Officer.

The executive sponsor is most likely to have a visionary perspective of requirements.

The executive sponsor may be directly or indirectly responsible for the budget. Speaking of which, in some organizations, the budget can function as a role more powerful than the others combined.

Stakeholder

Stakeholders include almost anyone involved in the web site, but primarily involves executive sponsors, content owners, and parties interested in implementing additional features within the solution.

Solution Partner

Especially if many members of your organization have not participated in multiple Sitecore implementations, while it is technically possible to implement a CMS solution without engaging professional expertise, I highly advise working with a Sitecore consulting partner. The Issue is not that you will avoid pitfalls, but that you can derive higher quality and more value from your solution in less time if you have implemented the software just once previously.

Project Manager

Project managers are responsible for the delivery of the solution. Project managers map requirements to tasks assigned to responsible parties, schedule and monitor progress towards deliverables, and communicate between stakeholders and other resources. Project managers oversee other members of the team to ensure progress towards goals as directed by stakeholders. Based on commitments from developers and other roles, project managers set stakeholder expectations.

Business Analyst

Business analysts determine and document requirements from stakeholders for implementation. In many ways, business analysts are the second-most valuable role, as they bridge the gap between business requirements and the implementation team.

Creative (UX)

Creative provides visual suggestions including designs, color pallets, fonts, artwork, motion imagery, video, stock photography, movement, effects, and other sensorial aspects of the solution. Creative and design often overlap.

Designer (Web)

Designers implement markup, CSS, and JavaScript as required to support input from creative and business analysts.

Architect

Advanced developers become architects, capable of implementing high-performance, high-capacity solutions from the first item to the last, including comprehensive knowledge of Sitecore extension points.

System Administrator

System administrators are responsible for the minute-by-minute health of environments including content management and content delivery. System administrators are responsible for the backups, security, redundancy, performance, and other aspects of the solution, monitoring events, logs, and other resources for concerns.

Information Architect

An information architect defines structures for implementation in data repositories such as Sitecore content databases and the Experience Database (xDB). Information architects determine the hierarchy of content items, the structure of individual types of items, insert options that control what types of items CMS users can create beneath existing items, and hierarchies of metadata and other types of items such as for tagging or other purposes.

Content Contributors

The solution has no purpose without content, including a content strategy and someone to implement that strategy.

Testing

Testing specialists manage numerous types of manual and automated testing including unit, integration, performance, quality assurance, fault tolerance, and otherwise.

Release Management

To me, release management involves both source code management and automated and enforced processes for moving components of solutions between environments.

Conclusion

I am sure that I have neglected a few responsibilities and that many projects have structures and titles other than those that I have described. Feel free to comment on this blog post, especially regarding any roles and responsibilities that I have overlooked.

Resources

  • Nice post John. There are a lot of ways to slice roles, but this is a nice list. Adding my .02, the experience design roles can get murky with different skill sets blending in different ways. We've found a content strategist to be one of the most essential roles. It shares a lot of qualities with your Information Architect above, but also bridges more experience-focused activities, mapping content to the customer journey, etc. We also see the role of the architect/technology strategist playing a broader role figuring out how CMS fits into a larger marketing technology ecosystem. And then an analytics specialist too looking at how the CMS intersects a broader web analytics/data strategy (tag management, etc).  It truly takes a village. :)  

  • @Jeff: Excellent points. The list was already so long and now you're adding more people? It is surprising how many roles can be required in a significant implementation and how much they can overlap in individuals, especially considering how much these factors vary by organization and project.  I realize that I wrote XP but somehow I always only consider CMS.  I should have added more detail under Content Contributors, which I would generalize to include your content strategist and some aspects of information architecture. Considering your comment about having an analytics specialist, many organizations have stakeholders such as marketing that often work in various "CMS" user capacities other than content management.   The more systems you integrate with the CMS, the more roles can get involved.

  • Project teams can balloon, yes, although folks wear multiple hats which can keep the conference rooms smaller. Funny enough, I just found this post we did on our blog from 2012 with some similar thinking (h/t Jake DiMare who wrote this for us at the time). www.cmsmyth.com/.../how-to-staff-a-winning-cms-team.

  • John, as always, great content. I had undertaken a similar exercise using the idea of a T-Shaped person/team. www.nonlinearcreations.com/.../Building-your-Sitecore-Marketing-IT-team.aspx.   I like the concept of "T-Shaped" as it clarifies the need for breadth and depth of expertise.