by Lisa Kirschner
Okay, so you’ve finally convinced the powers-that-be that you really, REALLY need a web content management system (CMS) and can justify the costs. You’ve started to familiarize yourself with the CMS landscape, have learned the difference between “content production” and “content syndication”, and have visited some of the most popular CMS web sites…and you’re starting to realize that this is going to be a LOT harder than you thought.
So many tools, so many features…and so little time! You want to make sure that whatever tool you (or your CMS consultant) select is going to be the perfect fit for your organization. So, in a moment of epiphany, you decide that the best next step will be to create a detailed Excel spreadsheet listing every single feature available so you can determine which tools offer each feature.
The only problem is that your spreadsheet keeps getting bigger…and bigger…and bigger. The list of vendors keeps getting longer and longer. And you quickly realize that you’re not exactly comparing apples to apples. Vendor A says that they offer content workflow, but Vendor B’s built-in workflow is much more robust. Virtually every vendor on your list offers a “user-friendly HTML editor” for your authors to use when creating articles, but your team quickly learns that “user-friendly” is a very subjective term.
Should you spend the next 2-3 months creating that detailed spreadsheet or paying someone else to do it? Our emphatic answer is NO–which might seem surprising since we have done this many, many times for our paying clients. It took us some time to adjust to this simpler approach, too…but believe me, it works!
A brief chart listing the TOP FIVE OR TEN features will be far more useful and a much better way for you and your consultant to spend your time. You’ll be more focused on what’s really important to your organization, you can delve more deeply into analyzing those features, and you can force your competing CMS vendors to more clearly define exactly what they’re offering for each feature. Plus, you’ll save some cash. So do some soul-searching (or better yet, conduct brainstorming sessions and interviews with stakeholders and users) to determine what you really need in your CMS. Then pare that down to the top ten “must-haves” that will make or break your site.
We want to hear your comments. Have you gone down this path before? What questions do you have about how to make this work for your organization?
Send us your thoughts…