Sitecore & ROI: How to make the case for a Sitecore upgrade

By: Sitecore MVP Amanda Shiga

Determining the specifics of how to upgrade, and making a persuasive case to your decision-making stakeholders is a difficult process. We give you some tips on how to get the job done.

Our recommended approach for major upgrades includes the following activities. Upgrading Sitecore generally involves a series of incremental upgrades, database schema updates and concurrent module upgrades.

  • Upgrade dress rehearsal performed locally on a copy of the build
  • Upgrade book written to guide the process in the client’s environment, outlining ordered steps per Sitecore and instructions on any obstacles, customizations and prerequisites as encountered in the dress rehearsal
  • Assessment and implementation of necessary fixes to support the new version (if any). Examples may include:
    a. Adjustments for API changes and breaking changes
    b. Impact on business process flows
  • Quality assurance performed on local copy
  • Assistance to client in scheduling necessary downtimes and content freezes
  • Application of upgrade on client environment Sitecore instances
  • Guidance on required new infrastructure configuration to support the xDB

Generally, this can be performed over a period of 2–4 weeks, depending on the complexity of the upgrade and number of client instances.

Other areas of investment to maximize ROI of the upgrade:

  • Training for developers and marketers on the new version, its interfaces and any new modules that will be used
  • An “accelerator” engagement supported by a partner to take first steps with the new marketing features
  • Fostering an executive-supported culture of measurement and continuous improvement

Determining Sitecore upgrade ROI

While it’s fairly straight forward to determine the “softer” return on investment for a Sitecore upgrade, it’s more difficult to quantify a hard ROI number on an upgrade, as each organization’s goals, processes and solutions will widely vary.

There are a few metrics that can be used to assemble a calculation, if necessary. Organizations should frame the upgrade ROI by focusing on solving a specific issue or process, such as improving content author efficiency or reducing cost per lead, and by tying efforts to top-line growth. The heavy lifting will come from establishing baselines of performance to forecast improvements.

To establish baselines and project improvements, organizations should look to embrace a culture of measurement and ongoing optimization in order to regularly track calculation metrics over a specific time period, such as Cost Per Lead, Publishing Time, or Content Author Time-on-Task. Sitecore’s whitepaper Five Ways to Demonstrate Clear ROI outlines five strategies for exploiting Sitecore’s capabilities as such.

To establish investment costs, organizations should consider the TCO of the upgrade over the same period of time. These costs will likely include:

  • Upgrading the solution
  • Implementing new features
  • Training and culture shift
  • Infrastructure upgrades, if necessary

Want to learn more about the benefits of upgrading your Sitecore instance? Check out our whitepaper: Making the case for upgrading to Sitecore 7.2, 7.5 & 8.

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