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GovCMS site assessment for the Australian Classification website

Salsa conducted a detailed site assessment and GovCMS viability assessment for the Australian Classification website. This meant that the Department of Communications and the Arts (the site owners) could make an informed decision about moving the Classification website to GovCMS SaaS.

The players

The Australian Classification Board makes classification decisions for movies, games and some other publications, classifying them as G, PG, M, etc. The Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts is responsible for the Classification website.

The problem

The Classification website was built on a proprietary CMS, Sharepoint. The site was last redeveloped 10 years ago. The CMS was dated and didn’t comply with many current digital standards, which restricted the delivery of better digital services. For example, user research highlighted the need for an easier search feature, so users (parents and industry) could quickly and easily look up a title and see its rating.

To solve these problems, the Department of Communications and the Arts was looking at bringing the Classification website across to GovCMS — to join the main Communications website. However, it needed to be sure that GovCMS would meet the unique needs of the Classification website.

The solution

The Department of Communications and the Arts contracted Salsa to carry out a site assessment, focusing on GovCMS viability and specifically analysing GovCMS SaaS.

The three-day site assessment mapped the Classification website requirements against GovCMS SaaS, and also mapped design requirements against the DTA’s Australian Design System. This followed our standard three-day assessment process and proven GovCMS viability assessment.

At the end of the site assessment, the Department of Communications and the Arts had clear documentation including a:

  • Site assessment report — Summary assessment report including presentation of technical options, considerations and high level recommendations.

  • Digital feature list — Highlighting all the functionality and formulating a roadmap for the site including GovCMS/Drupal 8 viability and solution overview.

  • Functionality matrix — Website requirements summarised by the functional matrix to formulate a site roadmap.

  • GovCMS viability assessment report — Summary of each functional requirement mapped to GovCMS SaaS with ranking of viability/effort to deliver.

  • Proposed sprint plan — A proposed sprint plan to deliver on the estimated requirements for the Classification site.

  • SaaS evaluation matrix — To clearly see which features complied with SaaS out-of-the-box versus which would need additional development work.

During the site assessment, Salsa identified 79 site requirements. The viability assessment found that of those 79 GovCMS SaaS:

  • Could deliver 28 out-of-the-box or with simple configuration

  • Could deliver 29 out-of-the-box with moderate to high configuration

  • Could deliver 13 via theme layer customisations (GovCMS compliant)

There were five features not available out-of-the-box. Salsa worked with the Department of Communications and the Arts and the GovCMS team (Department of Finance) to explore alternatives and pathways for how the features could be accomplished. Salsa presented the following steps for consideration:

  1. Identifying if the features were on the GovCMS roadmap.

  2. Identifying reputable modules that could be presented to GovCMS for consideration to include in the SaaS product.

  3. Looking at alternative implementation approaches, such as through theme layer customisations (JavaScript).

  4. Having in-principle discussions with GovCMS/Department of Finance as to if/how the period while the required modules which were not in the product could be practically managed while waiting for their inclusion.

The table below was presented as part of the report, to provide an easy-to-read summary of the assessment results against features/functionality.

Classification - grouping

GovCMS 8 SaaS

% of total requirements

GovCMS 8 PaaS

% of total requirements






Theme level code required





Third party





Highly custom










Not applicable





Not supported





A GovCMS PaaS solution was highly undesirable as the maintenance burden is put on the Department of Communications and the Arts requiring extra investment in technical resources and processes. With in-principle agreement on the roadmap items discussed with the GovCMS team, Salsa was able to recommend GovCMS SaaS as a viable and cost-effective solution for the Classification website.

The benefits

The Department of Communications and the Arts had a clear understanding of how their requirements mapped against the GovCMS offerings, and that GovCMS SaaS was a good option. This meant they could make an informed decision about the new platform for the Classification website.

Salsa’s report also provided detailed information to accurately budget the project and seek internal funding. In addition, because the Classification website has been thoroughly reviewed in terms of content types and functionality (GovCMS) and visual design and page templates (DTA’s Design System) it meant that the next stage of actually building the new site and migrating content could start quickly and easily.

Why Salsa Digital?

The Department of Communications and the Arts had an existing relationship with Salsa and had been very happy with our work on the main Department of Communications and the Arts website. The Department knew first-hand about our extensive knowledge and experience in GovCMS, which made us an ideal candidate for the site assessment. After the assessment, Salsa also won the site build, and in November 2019 the new Classification website on GovCMS SaaS was launched.

About Salsa Digital

We’re an open source digital agency focused on helping governments and enterprises become more open, more connected and more consolidated. We’re committed to the open government movement and to the many benefits this ethos provides including transparency, innovation, and sharing and improving problems and patterns solved by the pioneers before us.

The open source movement has played a key role in the evolution of Salsa. Over the years, as technology and practices have developed, this commitment to open source has grown to encompass a much broader base beyond open source CMSs — specifically open data, open platform and open design. We contribute and deliver services in all these areas, with a strong involvement in open source initiatives such as Drupal, Wordpress, GovCMS, Single Digital Presence, Kubernetes/Lagoon and CKAN.

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