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.

How is the PMBOK like Wikipedia?

When you are stuck in traffic, you have free time — just kidding — for random thoughts to bubble up into your conscious mind. On one such occasion, I found myself considering the similarities between the construction of articles on Wikipedia and PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK).

At first, these two entities may not seem to have much in common, but bear with me. A wiki is a Web site developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content. The best-known wiki is Wikipedia, formally launched on 15 January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, using concepts pioneered by Ward Cunningham. The idea behind a wiki was to create an information repository where anyone — hopefully with domain expertise — could add topic content, which could in turn be edited or commented on by others. The result of the collaborative input should provide useful and valid content on a wide range of topics. Today, Wikipedia has over four million articles.  And Wikipedia is also has an administration and governance model for administration, oversight and management of the content.

Wikis are not limited to Wikipedia. Projects use wiki tools to build a reservoir of project documents and facilitate collaboration among project staff, especially when they work in separate locations. The Twiki Workspace project, for example, provides a set of tools to manage projects, facilitate collaboration, and maintain project documents, forms and policies as well as supporting social networking on the project. The core software can be downloaded using open sources and the tools are available for purchase in bundles for 5 users or 25 users.

So, what does this have to do with PMBOK?

From its beginnings in 1981 when the PMI Board of Directors approved the development of a book detailing procedures and concepts necessary to support the profession of project management, the effort was a “collaboration”. Twenty-five volunteers from local PMI chapters wrote the sections of the report. Review and comment on the evolving standards was solicited from organization membership through a series of circulated working drafts and workshops. The process to reach “A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge” took several years. I wonder if they could have finished more quickly if they had had a wiki.

So the bottom line is – many executives who think the PMI PMBOK is a standard for Project Management do not realize that it is just a book of best practices that is put together by a group of PMs.  Remember that when you are implementing your processes on your project – you always need to apply the right processes to the type of project you are managing!

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