New CMS Revamps and Enhances Content Delivery

By Chris Bogzevitz

At Fitch Ratings, which provides credit ratings, commentary and research for investors, we needed to create three new Websites that integrated with our core systems, allowed for localized content, fit within the technology stack and could be deployed rapidly.  In choosing a new content management system (CMS), we were able to meet an immediate business need and put the company on a path to respond rapidly to future business requests for new content and sites worldwide.

Over the past decade, we’ve used a variety of systems to provide content for our Websites, but agility and integration had become key concerns. We needed a system that allowed site editors to create and edit content easily.

Due in large part to aging systems built for one-off solutions, we relied on a combination of a homegrown page editor, static files and a CMS to manage editor-driven content. Colleagues who had to manage the content did not consider the existing systems user-friendly, and the technology was not native to our stack. The latter was a key factor in our ability to integrate our internal systems and drive an entire Website through the CMS.

Alignment to our technology stack and ease of use were the driving factors when we began looking to replace these disparate systems with a single CMS. The goal was a unified system and workflow. Equally important, we wanted to give editors the ability to create targeted, relevant content for users, either as landing pages for marketing campaigns or microsites.

Our company operates in a highly regulated environment that requires consistency and transparency across all our Website properties around the globe. Currently, we are active in more than 30 countries, some of which require the local offices to provide a Website that displays the ratings and research produced in those countries.

Regulations released in 2013 require that three of these sites leverage the same core systems and databases, and have the same processes and procedures as our global Website. In the past, local offices had contracted with local vendors to build and maintain Websites to house the ratings and research that Fitch is mandated to show. While this gave the local offices flexibility, it also meant double entry and development. A replacement had to solve the double entry issue, and it absolutely had to integrate with our internal systems.

Our existing architecture simply could not support new sites with local language content. Fitch’s expertise in implementing these regulatory requirements was not scalable to maintain each of the local sites in situ

We reviewed several options and chose Magnolia CMS. As an open-source Java product with enterprise-grade support and documentation, this CMS integrated well with our technology stack, and its flexibility and ease of use increased speed to market.

In addition, centralizing Website management in our new CMS ensured consistency across jurisdictions using data from our core systems. While we had other options, including a do-it-yourself approach, using a CMS ensured that we weren’t reinventing the wheel. The CMS provides the framework for content and site structure, configuration, themes and security. 

In three months of development, we were able to replicate key pages from our global Website and launch three regional Websites—a significant accomplishment. We found it easy to extend Magnolia to retrieve content from our existing databases and search engine because of its open approach. Although the framework for regional sites took three months to build, it has allowed us to dramatically reduce the time it will take to release future sites—from months to mere days.  

Due in large part to the platform’s extensibility, we are now moving toward a system in which the CMS is a primary driver of both managed and core system content. Over the course of the regional sites project, we noticed a trend: When we approached problems from the view of how best to solve them through Magnolia, we worried less about roadblocks and thought more about what’s possible. The open approach of a flexible CMS provides such benefits.

After releasing our first Websites with Magnolia, we surveyed our developers regarding what they liked most about the platform. “Extensibility” was the resounding answer.

We now view our CMS as a key component of our site; our previous systems had felt bolted on. Today, our CMS is integral to our digital presence, which will enhance the way we, as a company, deliver content to market participants in the future.

Moreover, choosing Magnolia helped us keep licensing costs in line as a result of its open-source structure. The ultimate savings, however, were found in how the CMS helped us deliver the project on time and how it has set us up to quickly deliver more sites in the near future.

Chris Bogzevitz is a director of IT product development at Fitch Ratings, which provides credit ratings, commentary and research through independent, prospective credit opinions.