Finding a Content Management System Solution – Part 3

In part 2 of this series, I talked about selecting a content management system (CMS) and including the needs of people (stakeholders and users). I shared several great questions to ask when choosing a solution. So after you have done all the work of finding, selecting and implementing a CMS you can relax and take it easy – right ?  Sorry, a good CMS does not stop at the launch of the solution; in fact, many people would say your “journey into the land of Knowledge and Content management” has just begun!

Your organization has invested time and energy into picking and implementing the right CMS and you want it to be effective and improve the knowledge retention of the organization.  Do these software products do all this by themselves?  Of course not – Now you have to provide on-going processes and people to maintain and adapt your CMS to the changing environment.

If the goal of your CMS is to provide knowledge, lessons learned or any organization-valued information, then the content that it manages must have several qualities:

  • Currency – is the content current or so old as to be useless
  • Relevancy – is the content relevant to the needs of the users
  • Accuracy – has someone validated the accuracy of the information

These qualities do not happen by themselves but rather are part of the on-going processes, maintenance and support that you must provide.  I find that many Knowledge Management or CMS initiatives don’t include critical maintenance support. It is unfortunate that this happens and why CMS solutions like SharePoint, often get a bad rap. There are several things to consider for the on-going support, use, and effectiveness of your CMS:

These qualities do not happen by themselves but rather are part of the on-going processes, maintenance and support that you must provide.  I find that many Knowledge Management or CMS initiatives don’t include critical maintenance support. It is unfortunate that this happens and why CMS solutions like SharePoint, often get a bad rap. There are several things to consider for the on-going support, use, and effectiveness of your CMS:

  • Knowledge management staff
  • Training
  • Documented, updated and utilized processes
  • Culture and Change Management
  • Executive support

Staff and training
If you have not planned for staff that is responsible for the on-going maintenance and support of your CMS then you may be in for a train wreck.  I shudder to think of the future of the World Wide Web or a giant CMS that no one thought about maintaining! There is a lot of stuff to be found on the internet – but just try to find the “right” piece of information – that is hard to do. And how about training for users and stakeholders on how to use the CMS processes and tools? I assume that you will change processes over time or add new features… and what about new staff coming into the organization?

My recommendation is to put training time and resources for transition and maintenance into the CMS plan. Ensure that everyone has an initial class in using the CMS and document marking. Place someone in charge of the CMS and make using and supporting it part of employee reviews. Reward the staff members who make the system more effective through their efforts.

Processes
An effective CMS is not a one-time and you are done effort. Require training to show employees and team members how to use and add to the document store covered by the CMS. Quarterly or semi-annually, assess the performance of the CMS using quantitative and quality measures. Include questions on employee surveys about CMS use and perceived value. Take action when the results of performance analysis indicate less use or value than desired. Consider conducting an external review of your CMS’s performance from trained knowledge professional after implementation.

Culture and Change
To maintain a CMS and continue to receive benefits from a more sophisticated way to management organizational knowledge, company culture — the way we work here — will need to change. As I have said before, changing a culture is not easy. For those individuals pushing for using a formal CMS system or tasked with implementing and promoting it, I suggest modeling, training, rewarding and practicing patience.

Executive Support
No major cultural or programmatic change can happen in the absence of executive support. Formal support in terms of resources for designing, initiating, implementing and training are essential. Informal support, which can often be more powerful, happens when senior managers use the CMS system and can talk knowledgeably (and with data) about the system’s benefits. An enthusiastic executive champion can sway undecided or reluctant employees to try.

I hope your CMS or KM system can provide the kind of effective solution that organizations are looking for today.

________________________________________________________________
Some additional resources:

Knowledge Management—Emerging Perspectives – short article on KM by Gene Bellinger

Defining and designing the performance-centered interface: moving beyond the user-centered interface – Great article on making your solution a “performance based” system. (Another copy is located here: http://www.cognitive-technologies.com/whitepapers/files/Performance_Centered.pdf

Content and Knowledge Management resources list – provided by Ingistics, LLC

KMworld – online site for the magazine

Finding a Content Management System Solution – Part 2

Last week in part 1, I talked about selecting a content management system (CMS) (which has many names like records management or knowledge management) from a technical perspective. However, just as with any productivity-enhancing tool, the process does not end with getting the tool. Rather, the process begins by understanding the value of content management to the organization and ends with training, acceptance and implementation. If your organization truly wants to benefit from content management, there must be changes in “business-as-usual”.

Your organization will need to have all of the stakeholders participate in any project to implement a CMS so you should be prepared to involve business units, legal, finance, contracts, marketing, operations, human resources, PMO and any other groups who have a stake in the information flow of your organization.  You will also need a plan for the implementation project so that you can achieve outcomes that are beneficial to the organization.  To quote Lewis Carroll, “If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

In 2006, Dr. Karen McGraw, CEO of Cognitive Technologies, suggested 10 questions decision makers should answer before committing resources to content management system solutions (Dr. McGraw’s complete white paper):

  1. What content do we need to manage better or use more effectively?
  2. What types of content management initiatives are we involved with already?
  3. Where is the greatest impact for content management efforts?
  4. Where are the best opportunities to achieve business value and ROI?
  5. Where are we in terms of content management maturity?
  6. What kind of technical infrastructure is required to support content management?
  7. Are we prepared to implement and manage the cultural changes that may be required for content management to be successful?
  8. What are the characteristics and competencies our employees will need to succeed with content management?
  9. Does our content management initiative support our strategic business objectives?
  10. Am I providing the required leadership and support to ensure the success of content management initiatives in my organization?

Dr. McGraw emphasizes the point that implementing a content management system should not be undertaken lightly or perfunctorily if benefits are to be achieved. In my experience, the key to success is user acceptance. If staff members see value — or potential value — in content management, they will expend the time and effort required. If users do not anticipate gaining any direct benefit, they may perform only the minimal tasks needed to comply with the process. Worse, they may sabotage the system through inattention to detail, refusing to use the system or discouraging others.

Getting User Buy-in
The value of implementing a content management system may not be intuitively obvious to all employees when considered in light of their current job tasks. In addition, seasoned veterans of other management initiatives may sigh with foreknowledge that they will have to do something more and different. Therefore, it is up to management to sell a vision of the content management systems benefits to the organization and to individual workers.

Here are seven tips that will stimulate employee buy-in:

  1. Get a representative group of users to participate in setting up the CMS — identifying the source documents and agreeing on the tags and taxonomy — classification scheme — that they would find helpful when searching for information
  2. When rolling out the CMS initiative, use stories and examples of time saving and quality improvements that tie directly to the work being done by individuals in the audience
  3. Offer incentives for early adoption
  4. Ensure that managers and leaders serve as role models in using the CMS
  5. Provide training
  6. Make sure the tools provided by the CMS offer easy-to-use mechanisms for the employees to add and describe content
  7. Plan and implement a process to keep content updated and well organized (read that as tools, responsibilities and information). Nothing turns off users like outdated materials or hard to get to information.

Managing Change
Implementing a content management system across the board yields many benefits to the organization in capturing and accessing knowledge. However, a CMS based system requires changes in business-as-usual. Your organization can learn from other successful change management strategies to successfully transition to effectively using your new CMS.

In the past I have talked about change management and you will find some helpful hints and practices here: Role of Project Managers in Change Management, Project Management PMBOK – Monitoring and Change Control, and Planning Your Organizational Change. Best practice suggestions for change management include:

  • Have a plan
  • Involve key stakeholders and keep them informed
  • Use small projects or departments to test the CMS and polish any rough points before rolling it out over the entire organization
  • Expect resistance — because some people just fight change of any kind. Understand the source of their concerns and address them:
    • The known is comfortable
    • Change requires thought; many current work behaviors have become automatic and require no conscious effort
    • Some people resist change in principle
    • Change is scary—you don’t know what you will win or lose
    • You may fail in the new world order
  • Develop outcome measures to evaluate the CMS
  • Seek assistance from change management experts either in your own HR department or ask for outside training or coaching
  • Offer training
  • Reward effort

If you and your organization have implemented a CMS, please share your experiences and suggestions to facilitate success.

Next, in part 3 of this discussion, I will address one of the most important aspects of a content management system – what do you do after the implementation to maintain the effectiveness and use of the CMS?

The Lazy Project Manager's Blog

The Home of Productive Laziness Thoughts

ProjectManagement.com

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

A Girl's Guide to Project Management

Project Management musings for one and all

LeadingAnswers: Leadership and Agile Project Management Blog

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

Project Management Hut

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

Herding Cats

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

beyondcenter

Pushing the Edges Out ...

projectxpert

Just another WordPress.com site