Five steps to content management success

Most organisations of substance have come to understand that they need some form of content management system (CMS) to bring order to their online presence. What they may not have anticipated as they embark on this important direction is five change management steps they have to take if they are to succeed in the long term. These steps are consistent in all organisations, and will have to be dealt with.
Obtain executive buyin
All IT projects need the overall blessing, support and initial involvement of the boardroom. This will unlock the requisite funding, and ensure internal resistance is more easily overcome. Return on investment can seem hard to quantify, especially with new-generation systems such as a CMS, and it will require long-term commitment from the executive if the organisation is to commit fully to the CMS and allow it to deliver its full value over time.

Deal with the human factor
A new CMS involves two pitches: one to the business, and the other to the users. Generally speaking, people are resistant to change. No matter how inefficient their existing mode of operation, or how easy to use, attractive and efficient their new process, they will resist it unless they are persuaded of its value and actively buy into it. Some of the resistance will come from people with vested interests: those who feel they will be marginalised, or even lose their jobs. As an example, an automated, slick CMS will take some of the power away from IT specialists, and a marketing custodian might see their power base eroded by a new application that automates aspects of their function. In this case, it is best not to try too hard to bring such folk on board: they are likely to oppose you and undermine the success of the CMS project. At a certain point, with the full support and commitment of management, it is best to leave these people behind.

Establish content ownership
A camel is a horse designed by a committee: content created by committee, or consensus, can be similarly distorted from concept to execution, so there has to be final ownership of content. However, there also has to be collaboration, and acceptance by all involved that content will be created through multiple inputs. This can create friction, but ultimately it is vital, as productivity soars when content can be created by multiple people, each providing specialist input, and working in multiple locations.

Import existing content
All organisations have significant amounts of existing content which needs to be identified, prioritised and converted to a standard format - HTML or XML, to mention two industry-standard formats. Contact databases have to be migrated into the new system, then the old content must be frozen and shelved and the new system used in a standardised way, including updates. The ideal is for a content committee to manage this process, with full responsibility and accountability. Deviation from the new process must be discouraged and prevented, which again brings us to the human factor. As long as people operate outside of the new corporate process, its full value will not be derived.

Co-opt IT
Those in the IT department tend to be proprietorial about their turf, and with quite good reason. Now along comes the CMS team with a new system, one that they view as consuming their time and energy, when they are already strapped for resources. It will be important to gain the buyin of IT from the beginning. They need to be persuaded that the CMS will fit within their architecture (or not, as this may not be important); that it is not going to be burdensome to them; and that the daily, weekly and monthly management of the CMS will not be onerous. We found at one client site that we needed to obtain corporate permission to use an open systems CMS, given the Microsoft-centric nature of the architecture in use at the client. Once we had IT's nod for an exception to the architecture, it was plain sailing, and our CMS was accepted, adopted and is in happy and productive use on a daily basis.

A CMS is one of the most important corporate communications investments any company will make. To ensure it works as well as expected, you need to implement some simple change management steps. These five are a good start.

About Cambrient
Cambrient is a leading content management company in South Africa.

Offering both services and software products, Cambrient is the most experienced local team in the industry, with almost 10 years'

experience in the field. The company has an extensive and excellent track record in servicing many small and large companies in the country - as well as some significant international customers. Cambrient owns and manages its own software intellectual property, and has put in place a suite of products over the past five years which are regarded as world-class. Its product suite includes a powerful content management system for large and medium organisations, as well as a business process management system, on which most of its large projects are based. Services include a full spectrum of consulting services, project management, and website and Intranet development.

Cambrient believes in making a difference to the lives of end users, and its systems are designed with this in mind. Whether it's the software the company develops, or the advice it offers, Cambrient understands user needs when it comes to content management. The business is 100% privately held, and is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

5 May 2008 14:10


About the author

Jarred Cinman is Software Director at Cambrient.