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.

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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 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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