Finding a Content Management System solution – Part 1

I am having a lot of conversations with people about “content management”, “knowledge management”, and “records management” these days.  Some of this is because of products like Microsoft SharePoint® and OpenText.  If you are having these conversations, you may be wondering “why it is so hard to find a good solution?”

Part of the problem is that “technology is not the only part of the solution!” People and processes are actually more of the key than most of us would like to admit. I have seen hundreds of failed attempts to put in a Content Management system only to watch it fail because neither the people nor the processes were really addressed with the solution.

It may sound overly simplistic but to select the right content management system or CMS an organization needs to define clearly what it means by “content,” “management” and “system.” For example:

  • Content can be almost anything in today’s world that you could find on the internet; documents, graphics, images, videos, sounds, maps, books, source code — anything that can be digitally stored
  • The core management components that Gartner, as reported by Content Manager, includes in enterprise level content management systems are:
    • Document management – check-in/checkout control, version control, security and library services
    • Web Content Management – ability to dynamically manage and content authoring, ease of use
    • Records management – ability to comply with legal or regulatory rules, archiving and retention automation and compliance with organizational policies
    • Document capture and imaging and managing paper documents – entire scanning process from paper to electronic format
    • Document-centric collaboration for document sharing and supporting project teams – including permissions
    • Workflow for supporting business processes and routing content, assigning work tasks and states, and creating audit trails of who did what, why, when and how
  • A system ties together operating platforms and software. A content management system should be flexible and integrated so that data need only be entered once.  It should also be extensible – as needed, maintainable and robust or fault tolerant with an easily comprehensible user interface.

Content management systems can be costly to develop, so most organizations choose to purchase, rather than build.  I am amazed at all of the “solutions” that companies are selling – check this list out if you want your head to spin:  Wikipedia list of Content Management Systems. The first step in picking a solution is the decision to go open source or proprietary. Here is an interesting article that provides a comparative feature list of three popular, no-cost content management systems: Drupal, Joomla and WordPress – An Introduction to Content Management Systems. Of course, free software on your server or in the cloud, still requires effort to tailor to your company’s needs, prepare and load documents and employee training.  And it may not have all of the features that you really need based on process and people usage.
If you want to look at the top company supported products on the market, I found that Gartner has a viable list of these – check out the CMSWire magazine’s extract on Gartner’s top picks
While I could spend a lot of time talking about the strengths and weaknesses of different products – there are plenty of vendors and articles that will already do that for you.  And as I said, the tool is NOT going to solve your problems by itself.  I would rather focus on the aspects that many organizations miss when they want to get serious about implementing an Enterprise Content Management System (ECM).

Let’s talk about the way to get your organization successfully using CMS and make it a part of your culture.  Too often I meet with an organization that has implemented a CMS from the Top management or IT perspective and I must say – none of these is ever successful.  User adoption is terrible, the solution is not integrated into the daily culture and process, and there is often no support for the processes that are needed in true knowledge and content management (Read support as People).

I really like it when I walk in and the organization has actually hired a Knowledge manager and given them resources to make the CMS solution, process and culture successful!

In my next post I will present 10 questions that you need to ask when choosing your tools and implementation strategy. I have gone to some experts to get their advice and will highlight what they think.

Professional ScrumMaster Class Offered in Austin Texas

I have written and spoken in the past about agile and the incremental approaches to building solutions.  I am learning more about SCRUM and how it can improve our ability to be successful in our projects.  Scrum provides a framework for software development that is incremental and iterative. Scrum is based on agile principles that involve planning and implementing software deliverables in short time cycles. As described by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in “The Definitive Guide to Scrum: The Rules of the Game,” Scrum is simple to understand and “extremely difficult to master.”

As with other agile methods, Scrum works well in development efforts where requirements change frequently and objectives can be broken down into tasks that a team can accomplish in days rather than months (and most of us have experienced the constant requirements change problem). The role of a project manager in an agile development differs from the role served by managers operating under traditional waterfall methods, as discussed in Agile and project management – Advice from the warriors and now a formal certification in the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).

A project using Scrum framework and methods is comprised of a product owner, the execution team and a “ScrumMaster”, who solves problems and facilitates execution. The Wikipedia write up on Scrum states, “The ScrumMaster ensures that the Scrum process is used as intended. The ScrumMaster is the enforcer of rules. A key part of the ScrumMaster’s role is to protect the team and keep them focused on the tasks at hand.”

I am excited to announce that my organization, Cognitive Technologies, in partnership with Improving Enterprises, is offering the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification course in Austin Texas. I am planning on going, so that I can increase my knowledge and skills.

The next class is being held in Austin, TX on December 6-7, 2011. Taught by Don McGreal, the 2-day class is the first significant update of the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course that Ken Schwaber introduced and shared in 2002. As in the original, the framework, mechanics, and roles of Scrum are covered. The course then goes further by teaching students how to use Scrum to optimize value, productivity, and total cost of ownership of systems and products. Students will learn through instruction and team-based exercises, and will be challenged to think on their feet to better understand what to do when they return to their workplaces. If you or your organization is trying to use SCRUM then you need to send someone to a course like this.
Here are some details from the course information:

Structure of the Course

  • Scrum Basics – What is Scrum and how has it evolved?
  • Scrum Theory – Why does Scrum work and what are its core principles? How are the Scrum principles different from those of more traditional software development approaches, and what is the impact?
  • Scrum Framework and Meetings – How Scrum theory is implemented using time- boxes, roles, rules, and artifacts. How can these be used most effectively and how can they fall apart?
  • Scrum and Change – Scrum is different: what does this mean to my project and my organization? How do I best adopt Scrum given the change that is expected?
  • Scrum and Total Cost of Ownership – A system isn’t just developed, it is also sustained, maintained and enhanced. How is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of our systems or products measured and optimized?
  • Scrum Teams – Scrum Teams are self-organizing and cross-functional; this is different from traditional development groups. How do we start with Scrum teams and how do we ensure their success?
  • Scrum Planning – Plan a project and estimate its cost and completion date.
  • Predictability, Risk Management, and Reporting – Scrum is empirical. How can predictions be made, risk be controlled, and progress be tracked using Scrum.
  • Scaling Scrum – Scrum works great with one team. It also works better than anything else for projects or product releases that involve hundreds or thousands of globally dispersed team members. How is scaling best accomplished using Scrum?

Audience
This training is primarily targeted at those responsible for the successful use and/or rollout of Scrum in a project or enterprise.

Prerequisites

  1. Have read one of the Scrum books.
  2. Have studied the Scrum Guide at www.scrum.org.
  3. Understand the basics of project management.
  4. Understand requirements and requirements decomposition.
  5. Have been on or closely involved with a project that builds or enhances a product.
  6. Want to know more about how Scrum works, how to use it, and how to implement it in an organization.

Cost

This class is normally $1,495 for the 2 day class, but Cognitive Technologies is offering a discount for early signup.To sign up for the course go to http://www.cognitive-technologies.com/products/training/scrum.aspx.

It is time for us to get serious about learning new methods for projects so I encourage you to look at all of the methodologies that are out there today. If you have more information about this type of training or Agile methods, feel free to leave a comment.

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