One of the challenges many new Sitecore clients have is what happens after the Sitecore-based Web site is finished and running. There are obviously many choices out there but the common theme is that whatever you end up with, you will need to have a good Sitecore technical resource…and this person doesn’t always have to be the best programmer you can find. Of course, you can also apply these when looking for a long-term relationship with a Sitecore vendor. Here are some of the things you should look for. Remember, we’re not talking about a resource that just manages the site
- The Obvious
Obviously, you should look for someone who knows .NET and is up to date with the latest .NET technologies. As the leading .NET-based content management system (CMS), the resource better know .NET and the technologies, techniques and standards it supports such as XML, XSLT, MVC. Entity Framework, etc. Since the developer will be working with an existing solution, it’s normal for him/her to “learn while coding.” SO, besides maintaining the site, the developer gets to learn as well. Thus, the developer doesn’t need to have an architect-level experience and know-how…but may end up becoming to be.
Although it’s not required, having some infrastructure skills would be preferred. Sitecore, as an ASP.NET application, can be a nuisance to deploy or troubleshoot if you don’t know IIS. That even depends which IIS you' have. Then, you have the system integrations that your solution might have. Knowing how those systems work together is key and not necessarily how those other systems work. Sitecore is a flexible integration platform and is one of the aspects that make it one of the best CMS’es out there.
Well, yes. I know most of the work is actually producing the content but we’re not talking about that skill. The resource need to be able to organize your Sitecore content accordingly. Organizing it just doesn’t mean placing it on the content tree but also figuring out how to best manage new content types, what fields make sense, how it relates to other content, etc. If your resource has no idea what I’m talking about, then be cautious because it’s possible that your solution may eventually be too cluttered and then hard to manage. In addition to this, the he/she needs to be able to customize Sitecore with rules, validations, etc. to help authors with their work.
The most non-obvious skill is having the ability to ask questions. Sitecore possesses one of the most active communities around. It’s an easy system but it’s so easy, anyone can be dangerous. Being able to get on to the Sitecore forums and ask questions or even share some thoughts are quite beneficial. There are tons of answers there. Make sure your resource can communicate. Help can just be a click away.
I know that this list is probably very trivial nor even very specific (it’s not meant to be a job description) but I hope it helps you to identify that a good Sitecore developer does not need to be the most expensive and most experienced programmer. Although Sitecore demands some level of expertise, it doesn’t warrant a rocket scientist to maintain it. Sometimes all it takes is someone who can find the right help.