7 Steps to Make your CMS Projects More ModularWEB DEVELOPMENT, TECHNOLOGY OF EXPERIENCE.
Even organizations with monolithic technologies often have one or two independent components. When a company adopts composability, there is no turning back, since being composable is synonymous with flexibility, agility and customization.
Here are the seven steps to making modular projects.
What it Means to be Composable
Companies with MACH architecture (microservices, API-first, cloud-native and/or headless) that adopt composable technology opt for fragmented and modular solutions. These are small pieces rather than large platforms.
A composable approach involves a technology stack consisting of tools created specifically for a single function, such as a headless CMS to store and structure content or a personalization engine to tailor messaging to specific users.
Each component is like a tool in a toolbox. They can be used, removed or rearranged as needed to create experiences and streamline processes.
The components are ideally connected via easy-to-develop APIs that provide simple integration, without the need for heavy development or batch data loading.
A composable content platform such as Contentful handles content from multiple sources and publishes it to any digital channel, ensures content is discoverable and reusable, provides customizable interfaces, and incorporates governance through role-based access management and workflows.
Why Switch to Composable Developments?
Many companies are hesitant about transitioning to a more modular configuration, especially in terms of time, expense and adoption.
Traditional vendors have expanded their technology stacks inan attempt to offer a universal solution to customer problems, however, the resulting platforms are often fragmented and built from the vendor's point of view.
With a composable approach, companies can optimize small, easily integrated components to solve their immediate and potential problems, creating value for themselves and their customers.
An incremental migration allows organizations to realize rapid benefits and business units to iterate at their own pace, eliminating risks and bottlenecks.
Enterprises can create their own ecosystem with unique configurations that have the potential to be a massive differentiator in the delivery of customer experiences.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of being composable, we invite you to read:The Future of Digital Commerce: Composable Ecommerce
The following are the steps to be composable:
1. Assemble the Team and Distribute the Tasks
Create working groups dedicated to tasks such as technology auditing or governance.
Key considerations when assembling the team
Stakeholder balance: this group should extend beyond those who will build or use the technology stack. It is important to include the following profiles:
● Individuals representing various levels of the organization, not just management.
● Business units of different brands, sectors, regions or departments.
● People with a deep understanding of customer needs.
● Culturally influential people who understand the company and its people.
● Team members with experience in historical projects.
● New talents with new perspectives of the company.
Get buy-in: it is important to communicate realistic expectations and show how the outcome, once completed, will benefit them.
2. Audit Existing Technology and Assess what is Needed
● When was the last time planning was done and what was important at that time?
● What are you trying to achieve?
● What has changed since the last planning?
● What aspects of the business are not meeting changing needs?
● How do users interact with today's platforms?
● What level of effort is required to make these changes?
● How much risk can be taken?
● How easily can the impacted functionality be isolated?
● What will be needed one year from now and five years from now?
3. Decide on the Basic Components and the Main Points of Interest
A solid technology stackis a mix of built and purchased applications, where the customer is placed firmly at the center of everything.
Key considerations for selecting the components of a technology stack:
● Trade management
● Product Information Management (PIM)
● Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
● Content Management System (CMS)
● Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Each of the consolidated components has a very specific purpose, which means that they can be easily interchanged or customized. However, the exact degree of flexibility will depend on the internal needs of the users.
Switching to composable makes it easier to make decisions that align with changing business needs.
If you are an e-commerce company, for example, you are likely to add a PIM, a DAM and a CMS from the start and, if you don't have a personalization team, you can find a vendor that will do it, but you should structure your content so that, when you are ready to plug in a personalization engine, little preparatory work is needed.
4. Identify the Best Implementation Approach
Companies can move at their own pace and decide which components to change, as well as when and how to change them. This is where the results of the assessment are crucial.
The ideal approach should not only offer the fastest return on investment, but should also be weighed against other factors. If the highest ROI requires a huge development effort, but the team is busy on another project in the short term, this could affect the direction of the migration.
An incremental approach can offer small but measurable effects in a relatively short time frame and carry less risk, as the results can be evaluated and managed throughout the transition.
Approaches to consider:
● Strangling fig tree: this approach to composable migration consists of gradually replacing services until the original system is "strangled" and can be decommissioned.
This approach can be used to replace a legacy monolith or an e-commerce platform market by market, starting with the smallest market.
Once proven successful, migration continues to larger markets until the old platform is no longer needed. Moving in increments minimizes migration risks and accelerates development efforts over time.
● Threading: in this approach the goal is to migrate an entire experience from the backend to the frontend, as if pulling a thread through the technology stack.
A company using this method could migrate its entire content management system in a single move. Instead of replacing a single layer of functionality, this method focuses on the technical implementation.
It is useful for validating designs and preparing basic components for subsequent development and commissioning.
● Spike: this method focuses on implementing only a part of the solution to get a better idea of its performance.
For example, in an e-commerce upgrade, the project might prioritize replacing only the payment process, to ensure that it works as expected.
This approach is depth-oriented as opposed to breadth-oriented and is used to quickly verify technical capabilities.
● Big Bang: Take an "all at once" approach to migration. It can be as sweeping as replacing an entire monolithic system or as simple as launching a website to serve an entire customer base.
This approach carries significant risk and has a longer time frame to realize value.
5. Integrate the Components
Once the composable elements are in place, they must be linked appropriately, either through point-to-point integration or through API orchestration.
A personalization engine won't do much good without access to customer data. It's all very well having the best components in a technology stack, but their true value can only be achieved if they are connected to each other.
Considerations when connecting:
● Source: once all the tools are in place, it is essential to find out what the source will be for each component. Identifying this will influence how the stackis governed.
Source of Truth
● Ease of integration: this is where the "API-first" perspective comes into play. The components selected should have a solid set of APIs. If not, this should be considered a red flag and it will probably be difficult to get the component to work within the stack.
● Design system: while it is true that a composable technology stack can exist without a design system, it is certainly a worthwhile addition, especially for global brands.
A design system provides standardized elements that designers throughout the organization can use to create consistent experiences.
Maintaining a design system is not always easy, a balance must be struck between flexibility and consistency, and it must be tight enough to provide uniformity across all brand touch points while allowing developers to easily find and modify elements as needed.
6. Help the Team to Adopt the Technology
The governance team must understand the various user objectives and include the parties affected by system changes. After working to build a future-proof technology stack, the goal is that the products are not only adopted, but used effectively.
Key governance considerations:
● Change is hard: becoming composable is a mindset. The change is psychological, and the new workflows can make users feel incompetent or confused. Overcoming this problem goes beyond training, it is about involving those affected by the migration as early as possible.
Instead of informing them of the change, explain to them why it is necessary and how it will make their job easier. Change management is not a question of methodology, but of awareness and training.
● Jobs, not systems: think about the tasks to be performed, not the systems themselves. The size and verticality of the organization will dictate what is needed.
A small company will not have the same governance needs as a large healthcare or financial technology company, whose systems handle sensitive data.
● Who needs what: simplify governance by consolidating permissions into one login so that users access only what they need to access from a single user interface, without the risk of touching anything they shouldn't.
7. Evolve: try, test, repeat
With composablestacks, teams can meet deadlines without running out of steam, as site components are divided and managed by specialized teams, each capable of moving at its own speed. There is freedom to define iteration cycles and support continuous improvement in specific areas of the system.
Key considerations for evolution:
● Make rapid changes: changes can be directed to specific systems or parts of systems, allowing them to be made quickly. Changes must be observed and responded to in a timely manner.
● Make small changes: composability frees teams from the need for massive implementations with a thousand changes that then require in-depth evaluation to determine their success.
● Implement informed changes: testing should not be a random process. System performance should be monitored in real time and changes made based on data, business and end-user values.
● Make people-centric changes: takefeedback into account, keeping in mind that not all feedback requires action. Sometimes people just want to be heard, but be proactive in making corrections before they become problems for customers.
Aplyca and Composable Solutions
*Article taken from: https://www.contentful.com/blog/7-steps-to-become-more-composable/