CMS Blog

Do you know the full lifecycle costs of your Content Management System?

  • 15 March 2020 by
  • Krishna Kumar
Do you know the full lifecycle costs of your Content Management System?

Years back, there was this big debate about total cost of ownership (TCO). This was about software. The argument was that you considered initial costs when choosing software. But the total cost over years of maintaining it is much higher! The debate at that time was on which software had the cheapest lifetime costs. That debate died down after some time and everything settled back to normal. But it brought awareness that software costs much more than its one-time cost.

Today, no one writes their own CRM or ERP systems. Most software has moved to a licensed model. This makes the lifetime cost of the software much clearer. The digital publishing and CMS software market is different.  This market is led by an abundance of open source systems. So, the Content Management System market follows a different model. Different entities get involved during the life cycle of your CMS platform. This may include both in house teams and external vendors. Someone designs, someone may build, and a third party may manage the system. All this makes it difficult to understand or plan for lifetime costs.

This article identifies the costs of running a Content Management System.

Website Design - Onetime

You will have to design the look and feel of your website. Whether you choose in house designers or you outsource this, there is a cost. Depending on how complex a design you do, this cost will vary. Using high end designers can take your costs up by quite a bit. You may need to rework some initial designs later on. This will be to improve Google page view scores and W3C accessibility scores. Ensure that your design contract covers this.

CMS Setup - Onetime

This is a significant part of your initial costs. This covers installation and customization of the chosen platform. Every publisher will need some customization of the base CMS. If your requirements are nonstandard, then this cost can go up. Making these changes later, after you go live will increase your costs further. So, it is better to do the customization at the beginning itself.

Website Hosting - Recurring

Today, most hosting is on the cloud. So, you will pay this is a cost every month. But there are publishers who have opted for co-location or similar. In that case patterns may vary, depending on where in the life cycle you are. Your hosting costs would depend on the hardware you use and the bandwidth you consume. In most cases, adequate bandwidth would be part in hardware costs. But there are cloud plans and traffic patterns where bandwidth costs become significant.

Your costs will vary depending on your choice of cloud provider. Expect Amazon ECS to cost 15-30% more than say Digital Ocean. If you use a CDN service - you should use one - add the recurring costs for that. Price vary, from the $20 offering from Cloudflare to much costlier ones like Cloudfront.

Monitoring and alerting - Recurring

Once your website is up, you need to monitor that everything is fine. And you or your team needs alerts when things are not. Does your service provider include these with offerings like Kreatio does?  If not, you will have to use something like Pingdom or Uptime Robot. At the higher end you have services like eggplant. Costs will vary depending on your choice.

Other recurring costs

If you have outsourced your CMS, you may need to pay a license fee.  Or you may need to pay a recurring maintenance charge. If you are managing it yourself, you may think that you have no recurring costs! But the truth is that you have. You do have to spend on manpower to manage the running system. You will need developers, designers, testers and project managers. And you will need to provide facilities for all of them.

Patching and bug fixing

Long after installation, you will continue to discover bugs. And there will be patches and fixes issued by frameworks and add on vendors. Kreatio offers lifetime warranty with free bug fixes and patches. But most vendors give you a warranty for a limited time like six months. Any bug fixes or upgrades after that would need additional payment. This adds to your costs.

Platform upgrades

Platform and plugins that you are using will release upgrades. Implementing these upgrades may not be that easy. For example, one component may need upgrade. But another component that it is dependent on has not been upgraded. Custom features that you built may no longer compatible with the new release. This means that you get struck without the ability to upgrade. The upgrade can set your budget back by quite a bit!

Feature additions and changes

As business needs change, you would need new features to in your system. How much will it cost you to add new features? If your system is old, you may not be able to add new features at all! So regular platform upgrades is a must, to do feature additions.