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Part 1: Good Drupal Leadership: What to consider when implementing Drupal within an organization?

· Drupal,Leadership

Where am I coming from?

After a year of exploring whether to Drupal or not to Drupal, my organization is adopting Drupal as part of their Digital Experience Platform (DXP). My career is intertwined with Drupal, both as a piece of software and as a member of its community. I can easily see myself continuing to focus on Drupal for the rest of my career.

Everyone at my organization knows that for over ten years, I have been invested in the growth and development of Drupal as well as the growth and success of my organization's website - the two go hand in hand. As of the writing of this blog post, the organization has been, and is, committing additional projects and resources to Drupal, which means that more people now frequently ask me Drupal-related questions. Just the other day, I rattled off a quick list of what it takes to implement a Drupal website on a recent planning call.

What is required to implement a Drupal website/application?

Below is my list of the tasks required to build an enterprise Drupal website/application.

General

  • Business requirements
  • Quality assurance
  • Accessibility review
  • Migration strategy

Infrastructure

  • Hosting
  • Local development
  • Source control
  • Deployment (CI/CD)
  • Monitoring and logging
  • Automated testing

Architecture

  • Information architecture
  • Content architecture
  • Content authoring

General Implementation

  • Asset and media management
  • Roles and permissions
  • Workflows and moderation
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Configuration management

Decoupled Implementation

  • APIs
  • Authentication

Coupled Implementation

  • Page and layout building
  • Theming and templates
  • Design systems

Very few of the above tasks are Drupal-specific. The fact that Drupal is Open Source and the ways in which the Drupal community works creates many nuances and Drupalisms around many of these tasks. A proprietary Content Management System (CMS) would provide predetermined solutions to several of these tasks. For example, a proprietary CMS typically provides a single approach to building pages and even APIs. Meanwhile, Drupal core does provide one standard approach to page building with Layout builder, and core ships with RESTful Web Services and JSON:API. In Drupal's contributed module space, there are several alternatives to page building, including Paragraphs and Gutenberg, and other APIs, like GraphQL, available.

Drupal offers a ton of flexibility which requires organizations to think about every decision. It is easy to make bad decisions with Drupal.

Yes, all these tasks and steps required for building a Drupal website/application can feel overwhelming, so it’s essential to step back and contemplate what good Drupal leadership looks like and how it should guide an organization's implementation of Drupal.

What to consider when implementing Drupal within an organization?

Much of what is below might seem obvious or familiar. Frankly, I don't have a lot of project management experience. That said, I do have a decade of Drupal development and some mentoring experience. I want to call out the Drupal-specific nuances that present unique challenges and opportunities for good leadership when leveraging Drupal within an organization.

Good Drupal leadership needs to:

  • Help define and evolve a plan and strategy for implementing Drupal.
  • Guide the process and best practices for building and maintaining a Drupal website/application.
  • Organize the people and resources required to do the work.
  • Build the relationships within an organization and the Drupal community.

There’s a lot to discuss here, and some of these tasks could create or change roles within an organization. It's worth breaking down these discussions into smaller blog posts. In my next few blog posts about good Drupal leadership, I’ll begin to answer the questions below.

BTW, I will be adding links to the above questions as we move through with this discussion around good Drupal leadership.

Are there other things to consider when considering implementing Drupal at an organization? What else embodies Good Drupal Leadership? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback as we discuss challenges and tasks for implementing Drupal within an organization.

Image provided by Wikimedia commons and taken by Doug Coldwell.

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