When it comes to selecting a Web CMS (Web Content Management System) for your organization, there is no one right choice. As an IT leader responsible for driving technical decisions, focus on CMS tools second. Begin by engaging line-of-business managers and help them clarify their business objectives, processes, and activities.
Recognize that how you manage content is essential to determining how your organization functions. Continuously iterate between investments in content technologies on the one hand and efforts to improve operational activities that create competitive advantage on the other.
A CMS should make it easy for non-technical staffers to manage content on their own, without requiring IT support for day-to-day activities. But the underlying business problems and the nature of day-to-day activities are steadily changing. I like to describe them as evolving from web publishing to customer engagement and to digital experiences.
Initially, you face a publishing problem: producing newsletters, marketing brochures, product catalogs, and other kinds of content that are necessary for doing business. Since the days of your first website, you have expected your IT team to keep it up and running.
Making changes to the information published on the site has been the recurring issue. Non-technical staffers have sought CMS tools for creating and updating content without IT. As you go forward, this remains a major requirement.
"Your web presence becomes a mission-critical capability that your IT team must keep functional, safe, and secure."
More recently your organization has come to rely on its web presence for customer engagements. This includes: prospecting for buyers; nurturing leads through a sales funnel; building relationships; rapidly responding to inquiries; supporting all kinds of operational activities; providing customer support. Relevant content delivered within a business context empowers successful engagements.
Your web presence becomes a mission-critical capability that your IT team must keep functional, safe, and secure. Non-technical staffers are going to rely on this capability to channel business activities and redesign day-to-day processes.
Beyond managing words and images on web pages, they are going to need CMS tools to create and maintain their own websites (sometimes termed microsites), within an overall framework that your IT team supports. And they are going to need the capabilities to make their websites visible within an overall online environment: adding terms for optimizing search results (SEO) as well as maintaining both explicit and implicit links with business partners.
Looking to the future, your firm is going to compete for business within an attention-driven economy. Customers and prospects are going to value great experiences -- ones that do not waste their time and that are relevant to their current context.
"With the right CMS in place, non-technical staffers can continue to manage content for multiple devices."
The mobile revolution is the most tangible aspect of this transformation. The ways you engage customers and prospects through a full screen web browser also need to work well on smartphones and tablets.
CMS tools should support capabilities such as responsive web design where content adapts to the device. There’s an added benefit: with the right CMS in place, non-technical staffers can continue to manage content for multiple devices.
Beyond screen size, non-technical staffers are going to want to easily produce innovative digital experiences on their own, without relying on IT.
Example: Chamber of Commerce Site
Imagine a Chamber of Commerce site.
The full screen experience presents a well curated overview of everything the location has to offer: what to do at different times of the year, how to get there, where to stay, when are the popular festivals, and so forth.
The site provides everything tourists expect to answer their planning questions. The smartphone experience when tourists are near the destination is entirely different.
It is contextually aware so the mobile app can first display a current calendar of the day’s events and include informative snippets about things to do as well as links to promotions by local restaurants. Tourists are no longer just planning a trip. They are in the midst of an experience and want real-time advice about being there.
Again, IT is going to set up and maintain the overall environment for supporting omni-channel digital experiences. Non-technical staffers are going to rely on CMS tools to manage and curate the content components for these kinds of dynamic digital experiences.
Photo credit: Thomas Rousing Photography on flickr.
A Five-Step Guide for Building an Effective Partnership
As an IT leader, you need to continuously enhance and extend your content management capabilities by developing a partnership with line-of-business decision-makers. Be sure to focus on key business drivers and technology trade-offs surrounding the complete content lifecycle.
Here is my five-step guide for building an effective Business/IT partnership in today’s attention-driven economy.
1) Support the business
Realize that IT has one principle role: to support the business by keeping it competitive yet secure. Invest the time and resources to contribute to business planning activities:
- Work with business managers to develop a multi-year content strategy
- Define your information architecture
- Determine content management roles and responsibilities
Then periodically review and update your strategy and directions as part of your normal business planning activities.
2) Lead the technical conversation
Certainly you should be on top of the latest trends for website development, including capabilities for building and supporting dynamic digital experiences. You also need to pay attention to administration—what non-technical staffers need to do and how you will train them.
Consider investing in an advanced development team, a few technologists chartered to scan the horizon and spot the innovations that will have an impact on your business.
3) Ensure Security and Governance
While a hard one, technical, security, and operational governance requirements are essential for doing business in the digital age.
The content technologies and management systems that power your web presence have matured to the point where they are an essential part of your organization’s IT infrastructure.
Like databases, email servers, transaction processors, and other types of enterprise applications, they need to be managed accordingly.
Each organization is going to function in a different way. Be sure to work with the executive responsible for information security as well as with other line-of-business managers, to identify risk profiles, manage responses, and set appropriate staffing commitments.
4) Ensure integration with enterprise applications and services
Make sure your CMS tools work well with your existing IT infrastructure. Plan where you need to integrate with existing enterprise applications and services by tracking information sources and flows. Integration plans should be driven by business requirements.
5) invest in organizational smarts
Recognize that a renewed focus on customer engagement and digital experiences will shift how your organization operates. Continually assess roles, responsibilities, and budget allocations. Be flexible and prepared for organizational changes.
Capturing History and Directions
When selecting the right CMS for your organization, there is no getting away from your history. Rarely are you going to be starting with a blank slate.
You need to determine what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be fixed. Take stock of your existing IT investments and leverage what you already have in place.
While doing this, plan for delivering the digital experiences that are going to keep your organization competitive in the attention economy.
Consider how you should manage content, now and in the future. Develop a technology checklist and prioritize your IT requirements. Assess various CMS tools and platforms against this checklist and these priorities.
Remember you are on a journey. As the IT leader, be strategic in your recommendations and decision-making by optimizing for the best long-term fit.
Web CMS Selection: How to Go From Shortlist to Final Selection
Choosing the right CMS isn't easy. Beyond scalability, there are key concerns around user experience, ease of integration, customizability, data security, reliability, and more.
In this eBook, we break down the selection process for both IT and business users and show you how to make the decision as a team.