Contentful Professional Services: Guidance for scalable implementations

Contentful’s Professional Services team exists to accelerate and maximize customer success throughout big digital experience builds. 

Our team achieves this by delivering high-quality consulting and learning engagements. To kick off each engagement, we assess two things: where the customer is at currently and where they’d like to be in the future.

With a starting point and destination plotted, we map out the best route for customer success. To consistently achieve this, we developed a robust (and unique) framework — which we’ll explore in this post.

One-of-a-kind-builds demand expert support

Contentful users are resourceful by nature. They don’t wait for answers to show up before they begin building, they go out and find them — whether that means taking a course in the Contentful Learning Center or getting elbows-deep in developer documentation, FAQs, and Help Center articles. 

While these three resources are highly valuable, they’re largely self-service. This might be enough if you want to learn Contentful basics at your own pace. But, what happens when you have unique business goals reliant on big Contentful builds? What happens when questions arise and the resources available don’t fully answer them?

We offer two methods of support during these scenarios — which we recommend mixing and matching:

  1. Call on a trusted Contentful Solution Partner

  2. Begin an engagement with Contentful Professional Services

These services complement each other and can help you quickly launch and scale Contentful. The first method, working with a Contentful Solution Partner, is largely hands-off and best suited for organizations with few technical contributors and healthy budgets.

The Solution Partner takes on the brunt of your project — be that an implementation or otherwise. Depending on the bandwidth given to these solution partners, you may not be as involved in configuring the platform, its range of capabilities, and being educated on how to extend them. 

If you want more ownership and awareness of content management best practices and how to best shape your solution, Professional Services can add a lot of value by offering deep platform expertise and advice.

Solving the bigger problems

Professional Services in a nutshell

Based on quantitative and qualitative feedback recorded from prior Professional Services engagements, just 29% of technical and non-technical Contentful customers have an above-average understanding of how their Contentful architecture contributes to business goals.

Furthermore, only 44% of first-time Contentful customers are aware of the platform’s full capabilities (which means for many, there’s a lot left to explore — and that’s exciting).

The goal of Professional Services is to increase our customers' understanding of our platform’s capabilities and how these can contribute to long- and short-term business goals.

More specifically, we frame our content platform’s value within the company and equip customers with the know-how to start using Contentful strategically and scale it as new opportunities present themselves.

Offerings and skills you can expect to hone

Instead of taking over your implementation or digital project, our Professional Service team — comprised of several in-house solution architects, technical project managers, and trainers — provides guidance to inform your work in Contentful. We offer valuable onboarding resources, tailored workshops, and consultations to inform builds and reduce the learning curve common when onboarding and scaling Contentful.

Teams who work with Professional Services come away from the engagement able to identify how their content platform contributes to business goals. They learn to think critically about their architecture, content models, and editorial workflows, while gaining the skill set necessary to enact changes independently within the platform.

Professional Service engagements can help your team become more confident with Contentful and are broken into three parts:

  1. Defining the engagement

  2. Breaking ground on goals

  3. Seeking opportunities to scale

Below, we illustrate these stages more fully, supplementing each with customer examples.

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1. Defining the engagement

Every Professional Services engagement begins as an open conversation. We work to understand current needs and business goals. Then, we dig a little deeper to identify what systems and tools are at play within the organization, sizing up their effect on scaling.

While we don’t ask customers the following questions outright, we aim to get them answered during our preliminary conversations:

  • What are the customer’s desired business outcomes?

  • What influence does Contentful have on those outcomes?

  • What specific challenges is the customer facing?

  • What other business issues will the architecture address?

The information we gain here informs the target architecture we build with our customers. What’s a target architecture? A target architecture is a map of your company’s desired end state as it relates to business outcomes that are informed or influenced by technology. It often includes the processes and systems at play presently, including those that are working and those that need to be improved, removed, or realigned before scaling can occur.

With that information, we get an impression of where the Customer wants to go and the expectations of Contentful.

Customer examples

Sometimes asking questions isn’t enough to help us build a target architecture and understand what’s missing in a customer’s Contentful education. We created a short, 20-question customer readiness assessment to address this.

In our work with one European multinational oil and gas company, the assessment helped us understand how much the customer knew (and didn’t know) about Contentful. This assessment also helped us to understand the customer’s development processes, mindsets, standards, and routines — which were, at the time, unfamiliar. With such unique insight, we built out a base-level engagement plan, and revised it as needed.

Occasionally, customers require more in-depth analysis and onboarding. This was true of our engagement with an American cryptocurrency exchange platform. During our collaboration, we designed a multi-space architecture that aligns their infrastructure with their digital strategy to ensure scalability, reliability, and availability of content to showcase how to best use Contentful in the instance that a company has multiple spaces interacting with one another.

Perhaps even more in-depth than customer readiness assessment and space architecture are our newest offerings: audits. With an audit, we survey current Contentful implementations. During this survey, we look out for challenges with technical debt and offer recommendations to remedy them.

In the instance of one international fast food chain, our post-audit recommendations included tweaking the company’s content model, assessing its delivery architecture, and optimizing editorial workflows to facilitate future growth.

Desk plant

2. Breaking ground on goals

Once the path is set and smaller waypoints decided on, it's time to break ground on those — and Professional Services offers guidance to speed up that process.

Gap analysis

While targets can be useful in directing us to an ideal state, the question of, “Where to begin?” remains. Performing a gap analysis, which helps to establish a map of architecture requirements, can provide an answer.

For example, early in our work with a Scandinavian telecommunications provider, we recorded existing capabilities and processes within the company and compared those to the telecommunications provider’s ideal future state. Our gap analysis helped us determine company localizations, content model size, space architecture type (i.e., monospace or multi-space), APIs in use, and frontend setup — all of which informed our final recommendation.

It was immediately clear after this analysis that a multi-space architecture featuring a single space of localized, shareable content would be most suitable. Two subspaces acting as content repositories for two different business domains would complement this setup and satisfy additional business needs.

Content model review

Another common task across Professional Services engagements are content model reviews. Here, our team considers how to make the customer’s current model reusable, scalable, and more intuitive. Some of what we outline includes best practices and naming conventions — both informed by previous successful engagements.

To ensure a quality review, we developed an automated tool that suggests basic content model improvements and common errors. This tool, called the automated content analysis, is now offered as part of any paid onboarding. Customers can use it to independently generate a report on their current content model architecture.

Contentful insights

For companies that want to go beyond the self-service automated content analysis, there’s “Contentful insights.” We use this tool for any and all engagements that require content model optimization.

To give you an idea of what this tool looks like in practice, let’s look at a previous Professional Service engagement with a company that was already familiar with Contentful. The company’s main engineer had experience with the platform and began building a content model geared toward omnichannel delivery.

During our engagement, we paired our content model review with our Contentful insights to present a set of tips and tricks to help the customer get more out of Contentful without impacting their presently designed content model. 

world globe

3. Seeking opportunities to scale

After the engagement is defined and we’ve broken ground on — or, better yet, achieved — the business goals outlined, we take a breather and celebrate the value realized through this collaboration. 

But that’s not all. We also set aside some time for a “customer retrospective,” which takes the shape of a meeting between the Professional Service team,  representatives of each customer team present throughout the engagement, and anyone else from that company who'd like to join.

This touchpoint functions as an open conversation regarding the effectiveness of the engagement. Individuals are invited to talk about what interactions, processes, and tools have worked well so far and what still needs to be addressed. This discussion often becomes a jumping-off point for the customer’s next engagement. 

We don’t see our engagements as complete, even at this point. Business goals are always changing, new projects are continuously surfacing, and marketplaces are always changing — all of which might result in additional engagements. To that end, we keep our lines of communication open and our wheels spinning on how to improve and enhance our offerings.

Ready to establish your target architecture? Embark on your journey with Professional Services today.

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