What Is An Agile CMS? 5 Benefits Of Going Agile
At a ski resort in the Utah mountains in February 2001, 17 software engineers redefined the future of software development with their development of the Agile Manifesto.
Frustrated with the heavy-handed, inflexible development processes that were standard in the industry, the developers championed a flexible, customer-centric approach to software development, emphasizing adaptability and continuous improvement over extensive procedures and plans.
More than two decades later, the influence of the "Agile Alliance" still resonates across the industry–and into new ones.
Agile content development brings to content creators the same practices that helped agile workflows revolutionize the software industry. Through these practices, content professionals can capitalize on the same gains made by Agile developers, enjoying greater productivity, accountability, and job satisfaction.
An agile CMS is a content platform built to apply the principles of agile development to content management. These systems are ideal for organizations with dynamic and rapidly changing demands, like e-commerce, marketing, and publishing.
In particular, agile CMSes make use of the following features:
- Content hub: A centralized, single source of truth for content production used by technical and creative team members.
- Collaboration and planning tools: User-friendly tools that help plan intuitive workflows and intelligent use of AI, accommodating a wide range of work styles and built for distributed, async, remote work.
- Flexible deployment options: Production pipelines that enable omnichannel delivery, supporting continual, iterative improvements on content and ensuring content remains reusable across channels and campaigns.
The emergence of agile CMSes stems from the limitations of traditional CMS platforms in dealing with the demands of today's digital environment. While traditional systems often find their back-end content delivery coupled tightly to a single front-end presentation, contemporary content platforms need to be more versatile.
Delivering from a single content source to an unlimited number of potential presentations is called "omnichannel" delivery. CMSes capable of omnichannel delivery have won out over their less agile predecessors by reacting faster to the strenuous pace of contemporary online business. These are headless CMSes or API-first CMSes because they decouple the logic of their back-end content application from whatever front-end presentations might consume them.
Though this decoupling came with many advantages, an even more reactive, dynamic approach emerged as the people behind the content began being incorporated into the design of the system.
Agile CMSes improve upon the model by shifting the focus from the software platform (a "headless," API-first CMS) to the people and processes that give it life. While headless CMSes may provide the raw tooling needed to create an agile CMS, making agile content development work well requires thoughtful design of the building blocks of the headless CMS system.
In this way, agile CMSes extend the flexibility of headless and API-first architectures beyond software engineering and into other domains of an organization, leaving behind the monolithic paradigms of traditional CMS architectures for a much faster, more adaptive approach.
Think of the agile CMS as a combination of the ease of use marketers and content professionals find in monolithic CMSes combined with the developer friendliness that engineers find in a headless or API-first approach. Making all teams in an organization happy–and corralling them into a single, unified platform for content–is the purpose of the agile CMS approach.
|Traditional CMS||Agile CMS|
|Flexibility||Designed for static websites and monolithic systems||Omnichannel publishing|
|Collaboration||Requires unintegrated third-party tools, siloed work||Content hub makes work collaboration-first|
|Delivery||Tied to a single front-end presentation||API-first approach that extends content to unlimited front-end consumers|
|Iteration||Waterfall-esque workflow and step-by-step, one-dimensional process||Agile workflow, stakeholders work in parallel|
We've seen how agile CMSes set themselves apart by providing a customized environment to practice agile content development. While different features are available on various platforms, there are common traits we should expect all agile CMSes to have.
We can expect the best agile CMSes to have the following features:
- A single source of truth for content, enabling diverse stakeholders to come to a single location to see and edit content.
- Live previews can aid in the rapid design and delivery of new work.
- Collaboration tools that bring content creation, marketing, sales, and project management teams to the same place.
- Customizable workflows that define editorial pipelines to the exact needs of a business.
- Personalization and localization enable a global, async workforce to do their best work from wherever they are.
- Easy third-party integrations via an API-first approach that allows all other software suites to communicate easily with the single source of truth for content.
These features serve the core purposes of agile CMSes, which are to enhance collaboration and make possible a more incremental approach to content delivery.
While the specific benefits of the agile CMS will depend upon the provider, there are some general benefits one can expect to find when adopting agile content development.
Thanks to better editing and feedback capabilities, teams can communicate more throughout the content creation process. Since agile CMSes seek to provide the sole source of truth about the content in their content hub, more of your team members are in the same place, looking at the same work and cross-pollinating.
Content teams can work independently of dev teams and publish content without an engineering bottleneck or sign-off procedure. This is especially important because, in the agile development methods, many small, incremental updates are prized over singular, large ones.
Personalized content can be quickly delivered across channels in an agile CMS, enabling a single, tailor-made UX for every customer. This can lead to an overall brand experience that feels more thoughtful and adaptive.
Since team members are all working on the content in the same place with the same tools, they can all view a trustable document history of all the work that has been done to date. This can be a force for accountability and transparency in the organization.
Agile CMSes are composable, allowing companies to adopt new technologies quickly as needs arise without taking on expensive content migrations. This composability makes it simple to incorporate, extend, and integrate the business with new tech.
PUMA, a leading sports apparel retailer, required a content solution that could keep up with the fast-paced world of e-commerce. Previously, managing live previews and collaborative editing was challenging, as PUMA's content systems were spread across various siloed servers. After migrating to Sanity, PUMA unified its entire brand into a single modular content platform. This transformation allowed a single user to deploy any build to any environment in just 5 minutes.
Since adopting Sanity, the PUMA team has accomplished impressive results. They have created over 500 landing pages, 4,000 hero banners, 100 campaigns, and 55,000 pieces of reusable content within the Sanity platform. That kind of content velocity is only possible when content has been effectively consolidated into a single hub and iterated on in an agile way.
Sanity has been designed with the needs of high-performing, collaborative content hubs in mind. Here are three features that make Sanity the best agile CMS:
- Customizable workflows as a first-class feature ensure your team cooperates precisely how you need it to.
- Live previews help multiple stakeholders prototype and ship work faster.
- Integrations with hundreds of third-party APIs allow you to transform your agile CMS into the single source of truth about your business's content and to pull in and push updates to any other software you'll need to realize that vision.
Try a demo today and see what agile content management can do for your organization's needs.