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?

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.

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