Presentation Notes for “Why Content Projects Fail”

If you got here, then there’s a good chance you attended one of the times I have given this talk. So, thanks for that.

Here is a Dropbox link to the deck. This may or may not be the specific deck I used for the talk you saw, but it undoubtedly has most of the same content.

Here are some notes and links.

Contents

Content from the Presentation

The five ways projects fail.

  1. Abortive
    The project doesn’t launch.
  2. Quantitative
    The project launches but misses its numbers — it goes long on schedule or budget.
  3. ROI
    The project launches on schedule and under budget, but it doesn’t deliver the return it was supposed to.
  4. Expectations
    The project launches on schedule and under budget, but the end result just doesn’t feel like you thought it would

Five common reasons projects fail.

  1. Case Study Syndrome
    All the things you’re convinced you should be doing because you think everyone else is doing them.
  2. Development Myopia
    Concentration on the development of the website to the exclusion of too much else.
  3. Control Fixation
    Fixating on activities that don’t provide value commensurate with cost or schedule, but give us the illusion of control.
  4. Deus Ex Machina
    Expecting that software will solve all of our problems.
  5. Big Bang Syndrome
    Fixating on the launch and not considering the ongoing activities that happen once the site is live.

Five potential solutions.

  1. Put first things first
    Ask yourself what needs to happen to make the project worthwhile six months after launch.
  2. Plan from true beginning to true ending
    Do not concentrate on development. Run your project plan threes months past launch.
  3. Keep rough edges in context
    Put money into things that matter. Don’t sacrifice your schedule and budget on the altar of perfection.
  4. Don’t confuse means and ends
    It’s perfectly okay to go outside or around your CMS when necessary.
  5. Set the stage for incremental improvement
    Get your organization to understand that the first iteration is not the last.

Questions to Ask: Content Strategy

  • Can your editors publish a page of content according to their own standards of quality?
  • Can your editors aggregate content according to their own needs?
  • Can they collaborate as a team to their level of satisfaction?
  • Can they do this without unreasonable frustration?
  • Audience -> Need -> Behavior -> Content

Questions to Ask: Content Management

  • Can your editors publish a page of content according to their own standards of quality?
  • Can your editors aggregate content according to their own needs?
  • Can they collaborate as a team to their level of satisfaction?
  • Can they do this without unreasonable frustration?

Questions to Ask: Governance and Stakeholders

  • Who is your ultimate stakeholder?
  • What is their model of success?
  • Are they comparing this project to others? (Spoiler: yes)
  • Which projects, and what about those projects makes them a model of success?

Some Links to Things I Talked About

I run Blend Interactive. We proudly hail from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I wrote a book: “Web Content Management: Patterns, Systems, and Best Practices.”

Steven Furtick’s fantastic tweet: One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.”

One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.

A bit about George Peppard, on whom my late mother had a raging crush.

A great article about the pointlessness of dashboards: The Laws of Shitty Dashboards

My article at O’Reilly’s blog: Rationality in CMS Implementation Planning

The T-Shirt for “RMS Titanic Deckchair Rearrangement Officer.”

The clip from Mean Girls of Regina getting hit by the bus.

Joel Spolsky’s article about throwing away existing code: “Things You Should Never Do, Part I“.

Atul Gawande’s article on incrementalism: “The Heroism of Incremental Care.”

Some Posts from this Blog that Relate to the Topic