The First 85%

By Deane Barker on May 25, 2006

Content management is a process. It starts when someone gets an idea in their head that they want to publish (or change) some content somewhere. It ends when that content is actually published. This is the entire length of the process.

(I actually had my first graphic made for this blog. Yep — the picture above is an original to illustrate this point. Thanks Karla.)

At what point does the content management system come into the picture? Well, with most middle- and lower-end systems, it’s not until very late in the game. There’s an exception explained below, but in most cases, no one actually opens a content management system and tries to enter any content until about 85% along in the entire process.

Someone thinks up some content, they bring it up in a meeting, people talk about it, they discuss it with other people, they may write something in Word and send it around, etc. After all of this, they then crack open the CMS, enter the content, perhaps leave it in draft to be reviewed, etc.

Why does this matter? Because:

Assuming I’m right and the actual content management system doesn’t come into the picture until the last 15% or so, then don’t expect a CMS to solve all your problems with the first 85%.

These things aren’t magic. If your process sucks before a CMS, it’s still going to suck afterwards.

You see it all the time — organizations complain about no one writing content, and lack of consistency in the content, and no way for someone who does have content to get it to the Web site. The answer? Just plug in a CMS and everything will work out fine.

Um, no it won’t. Content management is great, but there’s still a lot of process involved. If you have no process, then the greatest system in the world isn’t going to help you much. Does your site have an editor? Is there anyone in charge? Who is going to review your content? Who is going to manage the metadata?

So when you’re talking with a company about content management, don’t just concentrate on the last 15% of the process. Be sure to ask about the first 85%. That isn’t going to magically go away, remember.

(Exception: I’m seeing a lot of task systems in content management lately. For instance, Ektron has a huge task subsystem where you can create a task and tie it to a piece of content. You can then route that task around and people can add comments to it. So, it’s sort of an ad hoc discussion group for a piece of content.

It’s handy, and you see the CMS come into the process — the graphic above — much earlier, because someone like corporate counsel can create a task for, say, the Privacy Policy

Um, I don’t think “we’ll steal all your credit card info and send it to Russia” is the best wording here.

This task can then be assigned, routed, commented on, and generally managed to make sure the change happens. In this sense, the technical aspects of content management and the process aspects start to come together.)

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Comments

  1. Did our meeting yesterday afternoon inspire your post? :-)

    the actual content management system doesn?t come into the picture until the last 15% or so, then don?t expect a CMS to solve all your problems with the first 85%.

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