What is a site factory?
A relatively recent concept, the site factory is used to indicate a form of industrialization of the process of developing, testing and maintaining a catalog of websites within a single organization. Adopted to simplify the implementation of complex digital projects, a site factory allows a multitude of domains to be exploited and multiplied according to specific business and communication projects.
With significant cost savings, rapid time-to-market and improved governance, site factories are now an essential resource for companies with an increasingly dense, dynamic and impactful online presence. But let’s take a closer look at what we’re talking about.
What is a site factory?
It is essential to make a distinction between the concept of “site factory” and “multi-site”, which is typical of classic content management solutions. Multi-site refers to the ability of a CMS to generate several websites based on the same layer, while the site factory refers to the industrial capacity to integrate, deploy and test a virtually unlimited number of websites in an automated manner. This is the specialty of Sitecore, of which Castelis is the main integrator partner in France.
A complex project, integrating several cloud instances, an extranet and the addition of several third-party systems, justifies the switch to a site factory solution.
The image of a factory refers to the standardized processes typical of large-scale industrial production. The term “site factory” is therefore used to designate an organizational device that optimizes the production and management of a large number of sites, with a set of pre-integrated technologies and services belonging to a single organization.
In practice, with just a few clicks, it is possible to configure, test and launch a new website, with a dedicated url and all the specific features that make it unique.
Industrialize the deployment of websites
As a result of the industrial revolution, the way material goods are created has changed dramatically. Until then, products were mainly manufactured by hand, which had many drawbacks such as unavailability of spare parts, high costs or difficulty in defining a good quality process. The advent of industrialization, by introducing more scalability, accessibility and governance, has created a decidedly more efficient, fast and inexpensive production system, with a double benefit for producers and consumers.
In the last few years, we have been experiencing a similar revolution in the digital industry, especially regarding the production of websites. Take the example of a multinational company that controls several brands: separate teams, speaking different languages, are called upon to manage the online presence of each brand, each with its own business priorities. Developing and administering dozens of sites, while maintaining centralized control at headquarters and ensuring the IT security of the entire infrastructure, represents a major effort both financially and in terms of human resources organization.
So why not industrialize the process of creating and setting up your company’s websites? For this, advanced systems for the digital experience management, such as Sitecore, work like a site factory, i.e. they offer a standardized approach to assemble, produce and operate websites. In concrete terms, once the basic settings have been made, the site factory allows the company to create a web architecture model that can be replicated in an automated manner. Each new site will therefore be managed independently by the different teams and divisions, which will be able to customize and adapt it according to their needs.
The advantages of a site factory
It is important to emphasize that the adoption of a site factory must be evaluated according to the needs of the company, in relation to its size, but also in relation to the need to differentiate its online presence, with a strategic vision on the long term. Once the project is defined, this strategy will bring considerable benefits to the company. This is the approach taken by L’Oréal, which entrusted Castelis with the creation of its own factory on site for its different brands and products.
Once the organization has a site factory, the time to launch each new domain is extremely short. With its architecture already set up, the new site will simply need to be tailored to the business purpose for which it is being launched, allowing teams to focus almost exclusively on defining content, with no real technical work required.
The use of a site factory is capable of reducing implementation times from several months to a few weeks, or even days in the case of the simplest projects.
Once the site factory is adopted, the production of each site will normally amount to a few thousand euros, compared to total expenses often amounting to several tens of thousands of euros (or even hundreds) for a web development from scratch: the ROI of such a strategic choice thus appears advantageous.
In addition, there are all the economic benefits that result from this: lower maintenance costs, increased productivity of the various work teams, more efficient analysis tools, more time to devote to high value-added activities, etc.
Better overall governance
The website factory also represents a guarantee of compliance with the governance rules established by the organization. The single base of the website ecosystem allows to keep a strong coherence around a CMS or ERP system and all pre-integrated third-party solutions (business software, CRM, APIs, etc.).
In addition, the work of the different work teams, such as MarCom, retail or IT, will at the same time be more homogeneous and decentralized, regardless of the department, channel or business unit involved.
Get an on-site factory with Sitecore
As the previous example shows, thanks to the site factory, a large multinational can provide the teams of each local branch with websites adapted to market requirements and giving them more relevant control over the user experience, while guaranteeing respect for the brand identity.
Setting up a site factory therefore implies opting for adapted tools, specifically designed for this case and able to evolve as the company grows and its strategy changes. In this context, Sitecore solutions are the reference in terms of site factories, industrialization, process automation, simplified and massive content management.
But the fields of use of the site factory are very broad. It is easy, for example, to imagine the advantages for a franchised commercial entity, for a small company that needs a multi-site infrastructure or for an institution that needs a multitude of portals to interface with the public (administration, university, sports leagues, etc.).
Generally speaking, there can be many reasons to adopt a site plant and you should consider this option:
- if you spend huge amounts of money to order the development of an evolving catalog of websites ;
- if the development, deployment and testing stages are prolonged, resulting in economic losses and a lack of commercial responsiveness ;
- if you need to provide a unified user experience across multiple websites, regulatory systems, geographies and languages ;
- if your IT team is bogged down in trivial and time-consuming development and maintenance tasks ;
- if marketing teams are completely dependent on the IT department for every new campaign or website to be set up.
But the list is far from being exhaustive! If you think that a site factory project would suit your organization, the Castelis team is ready to advise you and accompany you in its implementation.
For this purpose, we are a Sitecore Gold Partner, expert in digital experience management software : our digital team develops your institutional, brand or e-commerce sites and by adopting a “site factory” approach allows you to amplify your digital impact.
Learn more with our Webinar : Creating a site factory with Sitecore
Need more information or specific support ? Contact us, Castelis Sitecore experts are at your disposal.