6 Steps to Convince Your Boss to go for a Headless CMS

Alex Naydenov's avatar

Alex Naydenov

Sharing a 90s playlist in your company’s #random Slack channel provokes reactions like "💾📼🥳🕺👽☮️". The laughing, however, stops in a minute and most heads start nodding nostalgically in rhythm with “U Can’t Touch This”. You’ve got your team’s buy-in.

If your music is from the 90s, your nostalgia is not a crime.

If your content management architecture reminds of the decade when the first CMSs were released, however, you better go get your boss’ approval to change the tune.

While ancient systems like RAINMAN (developed by AOL around 1992) are probably not in use anymore, lots of companies are still stuck with their younger contemporaries. Legacy platforms like Joomla, Drupal and Wordpress and their monolith enterprise cousins:

  • do not offer the content modeling flexibility modern web-based projects need;
  • do not allow an affordable connection of content with modern front-end frameworks; and
  • can not efficiently deliver content to smartphones, IoT devices, and voice assistants.

Enter headless content management which enables you to: decouple frontend and backend, get rid of content silos, build your content model as you like it, and focus on APIs that deliver content to any channel. All this dramatically increases your team’s productivity, decreases your dependence on obsolete technology, and improves your time-to-market for new features.

Here are the 6 steps to convince your boss to go headless. Inspired by 90s songs we all kinda like.

1. “All that She Wants” – shape your suggestion in the form of your boss’ needs

How does going headless match the wants of your boss? Think about their goals and headaches. What do they want and what target do they need to meet this quarter or this year? Do they need to tighten the budget belt or expand with new digital channels and into new markets?

Migrating to a headless content management system leads to mid- and long-term cost-savings and relieves IT teams of legacy CMS chores. If your company does not have any plans to open up new digital channels, emphasize burden relief. If your boss has ambitious plans, focus on the benefits of headless for enabling IT teams to ship features much faster. Deal a final blow to any concerns by pitching GraphQL for your CMS API. With GraphQL you make sure your boss gets what they want – an API in the shape you need and massive performance and productivity gains.

2. “Everybody Hurts” – pinpoint the pain

Does your department have trouble hiring front-end developers or developers with legacy-CMS skills? Does shipping new features take ages? Do you need to maintain several CMSes? Do you need to deliver content to new channels?

Quantifying the pain behind these questions will solidify your case. Finding new tech hires with legacy-CMS-specific skills will often set your project back by at least several months. Maintaining multiple CMSs to power multiple digital properties exponentially increases the time-costs of both your devs and business users. Setting up a new project with a traditional CMS will often take 4-8 times longer than with a flexible headless CMS like GraphCMS.

3. “Somebody Dance with Me” - get others on board

You don’t need an orchestra, but a trio will help get your voice heard. Who else in your tech team wants to get some frontend freedom? Is the marketing team constantly bugging the devs for help? Is a project manager planning a new product or feature and needs a flexible easy-to-set up CMS?

4. “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” - run a low-risk proof of concept project

Nothing is more convincing than your own experience. Get some actual positive results by running a low-risk low-investment proof of concept project. Monthly costs as low as $50 require no management approval. Make sure to define several success criteria in advance. Great candidates for such criteria include: ease-of-build, setup time, developer satisfaction, system flexibility, business user onboarding-time, and satisfaction.

5. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – create a sense of urgency

Get headless or go home. Creating a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out may be the final nudge your manager needs. An API-driven approach is not only for innovators and early adopters anymore. Mention some big names already using a headless CMS (e.g. Discovery, Microsoft, Spotify). Mention a competitor who has upgraded to headless. Share some case studies. Don’t let your company miss on more customer touchpoints – additional to the ones in a browser.

6. “You Get What You Give” – work hard to make the trial work

Making the proof of concept a success is up to you. If the trial works and the change comes in place, you will be the hero who saved your company stress and money and opened the door to entirely new product development opportunities. How to make it a success?

  • Start with a realistic goal and deadline.
  • Create a list with your success criteria and milestones.
  • Get help from the CMS company - customer success managers are here to make your trial work. Let them consult you and provide you with onboarding materials.
  • Provide instructional content to all users of your CMS – content creators and developers.

I hope you've enjoyed jamming with us today and take away some great conversation points for your boss! A great place to start if you haven't already is by creating an account.

Are you ready?

Join our community of passionate developers!