by Elliot Christenson on April 11, 2017 - 6:45pm

We've recently been scheduling interviews with many of our clients to help fine-tune our service offerings at myDropWizard. Some interesting questions and perspectives have bubbled up in our discussions. This idea of an "in-house webmaster" is one of those. We deal with organizations ranging from literal mom-and-pop businesses to brand names that you recognize.

This article deals with those smaller organizations who have Drupal sites! The way I see it, there are four methods to handle your website needs: Avoid It, Get an Intern, Learn it Yourself, Partner.

Avoid It

This is a super-common option. In fact, I'd go so far as to say - for these small organizations - it's the most common option. It's a bad idea. But why?

As you probably already know: Drupal gets updated all the time. It is routine for us to run across sites that are a dozen point release versions behind schedule! It's pretty clear that these organizations are using the "avoid it" method. This isn't like keeping up with the latest iPhone - where it's simply new features you're missing out on. There are critical security issues! I can't stress enough how important it is to plug these well-known security holes immediately!

Modules Need Updating Too!

It isn't just Drupal Core that needs updating. Modules need updating too! While these can often be updated right from the Drupal back-end interface, you'd be amazed at how often this doesn't happen. Of course, upgrades may not go smoothly, so you need to have some sort of plan or system on how to handle issues that come up.

It's Not 2009 Anymore!

Finally, there are the little things that need updating that you are also neglecting. These could be features that your original developer built into the site. You may not remember how to use those features! You might need some features changed! Sometimes these are simple things like changing the copyright year on the bottom of your site!

So, you know you need to simply avoid maintaining your site. What next? I know! Get an INTERN…

Get an Intern

This might seem like the best of all worlds:

  • low-cost

  • readily available

  • knowledgeable

Your nephew's friend does web development! Your business is right near the local university! You have access to low-cost, highly motivated help for your site! Right?

Maybe. Hey, we've all been there in some fashion: just starting out.

The thing is, it's typical that this intern is lacking the deep knowledge about the complexities of Drupal - but also this individual is also lacking the deep knowledge about your organization's operations.

The other issue with an intern is: if your "intern" is good, he or she won't be low-cost and available for long! So, you'll always be on the "intern hunt" - which likely means your site will revert back to "avoid it".

Interns just generally don't have the depth of knowledge and probably don't understand the full scope of what you need done. So, if you want something done right...

Do it yourself

If you want something done right, "do it yourself", right? SURE! If you have the time and the resources, the Drupal community is very welcoming. You can put as much time and energy as you have into that process. Perfect, right? Well, maybe. I look at that as an opportunity cost. If you don't have a love for web development like I do, I would hope you would spend your time doing what you love! If not what you love, at least I hope you spend time on what is most useful or profitable for your organization.

It's a tempting option to go it your own. I can see the appeal! That's why I do what I do.

One big downside is OPPORTUNITY COST. It's that term you might have learned in school or you certainly picked up in the trenches of business. It's the cost to you in choosing one activity versus another. If you choose to be your own "webmaster", then you can't master your other organizational needs.

There's another downside that might not be readily apparent.

Partner

In my opinion, the best option is to find a partner to assist with Drupal support and maintenance. You might not choose myDropWizard for this, but there are a few reasons why this option might be your best one.

Experience

The first reason is experience. Most companies focused on doing purely support and maintenance have very experienced developers with thousands of hours under their belts. Experience means the common issues are covered! All those important support and maintenance issues mentioned above are handled easily!

Drupal Community

Another benefit to choosing a dedicated support and maintenance firm is "the network" - a.k.a The Drupal Community. Those involved in Drupal tend to be a close-knit group. That allows for these experienced developers to easily tap into the Drupal Community for obscure or complex issues. It takes years to build these relationships.

Specialization

Focus and specialization is huge! By exclusively focusing on Drupal support and maintenance, expertise mushrooms. In our case, for example, this is ALL we do. Much like you providing your own support can be problematic, so too can a firm that does large projects and also tries to do support and maintenance. We actually covered some of that in another blog post!

Efficiency

Finally, there is efficiency. Each passing day, week, month, most people get better at their jobs. With one site, you can develop efficiency processes. When you are doing that service for dozens or hundreds of websites, you learn to exponentially increase your efficiency!

As we all know, efficiency leads to lower costs. I think firms like myDropWizard can do a great job of making your Drupal site work better for your organization! 

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