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Monday, February 19, 2007

Why Your CM Initiative Fails

4:22:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , , No comments
You can always blame it on technology if your Content Management initiative fails. But, then your analysis of why it went wrong will also fail, causing also the next CM initiative to fail. And so it goes on.

Content Management is NOT about technology. It is about a way of thinking, about organizational change, and about a new way to approach the problems and challenges of managing your content. So rather than being a technology issue, it has to do with you and the way you think and act about your content.

Of course, the vendors of Content Management products (WCMS, ECMS, DAMS…) like to convince you that their product is the key to your success, the road to salvation. I know how it is, because I have been telling potential customers myself when I was product manager for a CMS.

Surprisingly (or not), many consulting firms, even the one’s stating their “vendor independency”, also try to tell you which CMS to put your money on before you really figured out what you need. That is because they have invested a great deal of knowledge (money) in specific products. So in order to buy their expertise, you need to have the product they are experts on. So, they will inevitably favor these products and recommend one of them to you as the solution to all your problems, even if you really need something else. And, many consulting firms also find it easier to sell you a product than to tell you that you need help to define what you really need. And that you will have to pay for it.

But again, Content Management is not about technology. Sadly, many definitions of content management are in despite of this based on what features software companies currently are putting into their products. So the definition of what CM is inevitably changes over time, pushing the software industry to invent new names on the same thing to keep their products fresh and interesting to the buyers. But the Content Management challenges remain basically the same - Content Management is really about providing the intended users with the content they need when they need it, and doing it in an efficient and secure way that maximizes the value of the content for your business as well as your users.

To be able to achieve this, you need first to know which your users are and what content they need, and how they need it delivered to them. To maximize the value they get from your content, you need to deliver accurate, relevant, complete, and up-to-date content to them that is adapted to their specific needs. And, you need to deliver it in a way that is as usable and convenient for them as possible.

At the same time, you need to have flexible, secure and efficient processes in place for managing the content resources throughout their life-cycles. A key to maximize the business value of your content is to be able to reuse existing content resources for different purposes so you don’t have to re-create content unless it is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, you need to ensure that your content management processes comply with all rules and legislation, that the content does not fall into the wrong hands, and that the content resources will survive technology change.

This is essentially what Content Management is about.

To succeed with your Content Management initiative, you have to start with what you want to achieve for your entire organization. Then you develop the strategy, the plan that tells you how to achieve it. And after that, you start the process of changing how your organization thinks and acts about content. This is where technology comes into the picture, to support the new way of working with your content.

If you start with looking at technology or even specific products before you have your objectives and strategy clear to you, you will inevitably fail with your Content Management initiative.

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