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April 01, 2004

Enterprise Content Management is a Process, Not A Technology

My business partner Jeff just wrote an essay titled, "Why Content Management Fails," about the pitfalls of standard CMS implementations. CMS vendors have spent years trying to convince customers that content management is a technology, and with the right solution, the problems go away. But in talking to people at organizations big and small, we hear again and again that CMS projects fail. In digging around, we came to the essential realization that "content management" is a process, not a technology.

While we're far from being the only ones who figured this out, it's surprising how firmly held the technological orientation is. It's tempting to blame the vendors (who are in the market to sell Big Applications and all the costly services that go with them), but the bulk of the responsibility goes to the organizations who are not willing to face reality when it comes to the difficulty and complexity of managing content, and thus are easy marks for the supposed magic bullet that solves all their content problems.

At Adaptive Path, In our research and development around content management, what became clear is that the way to address "the content problem" is to separate the "content development" and the "content publishing" aspects of the process. At the outset, focus your content management efforts on the latter -- develop strong metadata, develop templates, and treat the CMS simply as a database, a content repository.

Once the people in the organization are comfortable with publishing content in the new system, then they will, on their own, realize that the system can also make the content development processes run smoother. As Jeff points out, if you try to start with the workflow reengineering, you'll just incur resistance and ire from your staff.

Jeff has developed, with some assistance from me, a really strong one-day workshop on Making Your CMS Work For You, which he's giving on May 20th in Chicago. (Use the promotion code FOPM for 15% off!)

With our user experience mindset, we ended up developing an approach that is a paradigm shift from "business as usual" with CMS implementations, and should, frankly, help organizations save thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, in person-hours and technology costs. One of the workshop's strongest takeaways is that the vast majority of enterprise websites don't need fancy CMSes. With a smart approach in place, these website can, in fact, perform *better* with no-to-low-cost tools.

Posted by peterme at April 1, 2004 10:01 AM

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