Joomla is a powerful framework for delivering Complex web portals. With over 4700 extensions and counting, the largest developer network in the world and the most user friendly interface has made the award winning Joomla CMS the fastest growing open source CMS project perhaps in the world. With millions of users and enthusiasts from all around the globe and a low cost of entry this is quickly becoming the dominant content management system (CMS) for small businesses (SMB's) and even larger enterprises and institutions. We compared Joomla vs Drupal and Joomla vs Wordpress which are other worthy technologies but Joomla seemed for us to be the best overall platform for recommending to our customers. As Joomla integrators and Joomla Component Developers we deliver complex Joomla configurations for a wide variety of customers. Joomla is a perfect framework for the micro small business owner that needs training and mentoring to work independently on building their web empire as well as the small business enterprise with complex Joomla configuration needs.
There are several layers in deploying a Joomla CMS project.
* Planning and content architecture
* Template Design and graphics
* Components and Configurations
* User experience
* Customer Programming
* Legacy System Integrations
* SEO and Marketing
* Joomla User Training
* Ongoing Technical Support
Just to name a few... With any technology there are different points of entry depending on the experience and technical aptitude of the humans interacting with the system, the technical and business process requirements and the overall dynamics of the organization implementing the particular solution. We (our CNP Consultants) try to help folks "Get the most value out of their technology investment". Yea you will see this in our marketing but this is much more than hype. Value can be the key to success or failure. Among the biggest mistakes we have seen folks make and even made ourselves are:
Common Mistake #1
Just because you can do something with technology does not always make it practical.
I have personally implemented many powerful tools that accomplish their intended functionality but they actually never get used to their full potential by the end customers. While these were fun for us to build as developers and to see something cool that works, it did not really serve any of us well since our clients customers do not use them and thus they have a significant investment they are net getting a return on and thus until this first investment is paid for they are not all that excited to engage us to build more stuff.
The key here is determining first the business priorities of the project and then making sure everyone is listening to the needs of the end customer or user. Hey sometime folks build web tools just for themselves. I know I often post blog articles with a lot of links I want to not only share but also refer back to and we put plenty of tools online that we want to use ourselves as much as we want to and share with our customers. Just make sure you are clear why you are doing something and assess if it is going to deliver the right return on your investment.
Stay focused on what your customers are saying and what will yield the greatest return.
Technology implementation can be a never ending pit you throw money into, something that my father used to say about owning a luxury boat. If you are building your site for the shear ego of having a beautiful site with all kinds of creative features and functionality, have at it and of course we love to work with entrepreneurs with big ideas. However, like any relationship and any good investment a long term strategy is often much more practical. Our consulting customers get good advice about products and services that can grow their business or allow them to continue to get value from their investments. I have seen folks to often go for a quick sell and end up with dysfunctional customer relationships that ultimately cost more than the profit you made in the first place. Ask yourself many questions including "Is what I am doing today going to matter a year from now"? If you ask the right questions up front this can help you get the most out of your initiatives.
Technology is a moving target
One of the many reasons we got behind the Joomla CMS project as a core competency was because it was open source which offered freedom and scalable options for solving the greatest amount of business problems. We took the gamble from the trends in the market place that Joomla would continue to grow with features and stability and that the developer community would continue to be attracted to the Joomla framework thus building more confidence in the market place. With a scalable platform that is built on open source code for use was great since we wanted to work with technology that sold itself and that we could support and expand upon it to meet the needs of the types of customers we wanted to attract. Any kind of dynamic web portal project is a moving target and often needs to change course in mid stream. You have to keep good forward momentum yet listen to the trends in the marketplace so you can sail into the wind effectively. An innovative and scalable open source platform like Joomla is a perfect foundation for meeting this challenge.
But wait there is more...
A couple years ago, after a good year of working with Joomla we were looking for solutions that could actually help us build an all-in-one web based framework for managing our business in a Virtual Office Environment (everything accessible on the web). This is when after trying and implementing several CRM and project management tools ranging from SugarCRM to MS Project to SharePoint we found Info@hand CRBM. This was the perfect platform since it was open source code base and integrated with the Joomla CMS and QuickBooks. Now after 3 years of connecting the dots we have a powerful web infrastructure with "Complete transaction life cycle management" and "Customer Relationship Business Management". Very very very cool platform... we love it and so do many of the customers we have introduced to it. Though this system is also wired up with the DimDim.com conferencing and collaboration suite it also fills many gaps in client customer collaboration. These types of regular new innovations continue to add low cost of entry tools and value to the small business.
Sounds complicated but it is also very simple if you have time as your friend
What we have learned as "early adopters" is that there is much more to it than the technology if you are going to be successful. Complex Joomla Integrations are getting simpler as this platform evolves. The old carpenters saying get the right tool for the right job is very good advice. Since there are so many tools now in our toolbox and we fully understand how they all can work together I know I can start talking about it and it does not take long to get that "deer in the headlights look" from a prospect. The trick here is making sure we establish a clear roadmap and strategy for implementing technologies that will bring the greatest reward to your business and value to our customers. This takes time and effort to get it right and should be done early on in your process.
Common Mistake #2
Just because you have the technology does not mean you should implement it.
The second most challenging aspect of implementing a complicated project is the thought process of "let's do it all at once". I have often had clients that want to load up their sites with a ton of components and then they want to throw these new features out to their customers or workforce all at once. Well this is a huge horse pill that never gets swallowed. Hate to say it but until recently I have been guilty of this myself. There is a fine line between "Build it and they will come" and "Here take a bite and let me know if you like it".
Remember this is all about relationship management
I remember back in my days of dating that it only takes one or two words to "turn off" and scare someone away. Essentially this is a similar process we go through for attracting customers. While you want to make sure what you are presenting is honest and has substance you do not want to overload, overwhelm folks with more information than they are particularly interested in at the moment. You also want to put out information and web tools in a way that they want to have them presented. As in listen well and be a good conversationalist. Such is the case even more now with the Social Technology boon. I used to say "it is not hard to fall in love since people are impulsive by nature but the real challenge is falling in love with the right one". The same is true with technology. It can be easy to get excited about some new features and want to add them right away to your site just because they are cooler than the site next door. However, every time you push something new out it may distract or turn off your customers.
In relationships of any kind they are best nurtured over time. Deploying technology is a complex multi dimensional relationship. Moving too fast has greater risk of failure for everyone involved. You actually have several relationships and processes that need careful consideration over time:
* Solutions: Customer Needs - Business Process Need - Technology Implementation
* Relationships: Vendor Teams - Client Teams - Customers
In Conclusion work smarter with a good plan
Plan carefully and gather the right information about your customers and how technology can get you the best results as it relates to your business strategy. Make sure you deploy solutions over time with good the right vendors and the right customers. These systems have enough complexity that you have to really keep your eye on the ball or you can and will often times fail. None of us want to waste time or money and the wrong decision in this economy could cost you business. Before you travel anywhere it is a good idea to get directions, a map or invest in a GPS. Why would you not want to invest in good quality consulting to help guide you along the path of implementing technology?
Joomla Roadmap and Planning Guide
Value Builder Methodology
We have since built consulting practices to address these two common mistakes folks make with complex technology implementations. Yea sure we have to be geeks and able to wire all this stuff up and yes we do this well but the trick to getting value out of your technology is much more that the groovy tools we can dish out. With a few exceptions, most of the technology these days is all ready built and what that means is there is a greater need for configuration and being able to map the humans with the technology in a way that will allow you to stay focused on your priorities. Just start asking yourself questions like: What actions will give the best long term results? What will put out the fires of tomorrow before they start? How can I make this profitable to my company and add unique benefits to my customers?This should help get you on the right path.