Why Could Your CMS Implementation Fail?


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Are you about to invest in a new CMS? Or are you struggling to salvage your current system? So many CMS implementations fail, don't let it happen to you. Dustin Collis, Director of Development at NavigationArts, explores the reasons why so many fail and how to make your CMS work for you.
Learn about why a CMS is important and the implications its success or failure can have on your business as well as the top 3 reasons CMS implementations fail and how to avoid them.

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  • Before we delve into our webinar topic, it is essential to understand how your CMS fits into your overall Web Content Management. Web content management is simply the content entry and creation, management, and publishing of your online assets – those assets of course include everything from text, to images, to online widgets that encourage registration or purchases.
  • This system facilitates the actual input, editing, approval, and monitoring of all of that content. The expected output is a uniform presence that expresses a corporate brand and message within a structured environment.
  • The CMS landscape is expansive and cluttered. New and old CMS’s cycle into and out of the marketplace. At any given time there are hundreds of CMS’s either in the market place or attempting to break into the mainstream. There are of course many that occupy niche market, like the proprietary SAAS model systems. CONDUCT CMS SATISFACTION POLL: How satisfied are you with your current CMS?
  • The worst CMS you’ve ever used, is often your current one.
  • The benefit that is left unsaid here, but must be called out – is that the overall implementation is a time saving, efficiency improving initiative. This is supposed to make everyone’s jobs easier, not harder. Few companies actually have a “web team” that is dedicated to managing the web and provide content. They have marketing folks that manage one portion, people in different departments that manage their content, and a technical team to help keep it afloat. Thus why the distributed content authoring model is such a highly touted feature by the CMS industry – it’s a holy grail that many companies seek.
  • When you run into an implementation failure for such a costly and involved initiative such as a CMS implementation, any number of bad things happen. People lose credibility, budgets are eaten up, departmental goals and initiatives are left struggling to find avenues to find some measure of success – and your public Web presence suffers.
  • Understand what is important to your goals: Web site features, usability, “paradigm”, tech requirements, particular needs, integrations, compliance Any capabilitiy you add to your Web site may have to integrate with the CMS. Meaning it is advantageous for it to be Open, Extensible, Standard-based technology platform Technical platform – fit into your technology strategy. Consider staff expertise Opennness and Extensibility – allows for rapid adaption to the web (or not) Budget – Last but not least of course. Your budget for both the software and the implementation must be carefully considered so as not to bite off more than your budget can handle.
  • Bullet Two - Tip : Choose a CMS whose primary focus is aligned with your primary use. Implications of Failure Web Managers don’t like to use the system Results in stale content Lowered focus on web sites Developers will be limited by system Won’t be able to integrate future capabilities Won’t have the proper support
  • How to assume the system isn’t too complex?: Work with a partner who has experience in CMS or in the particular CMS platform you are looking at. If you are building this in house, still find someone impartial that can give you some first-hand/evaluation experience on that product. CMS Watch / The Real Story group is great for this type of thing if you have the in-house team to design, develop, and deploy your own web site. One thing we see over and over again from our customers is that they want the CMS to keep their users from making mistakes. Make everything automated. Automate content migration. Automate content validation. While some of that can be done – what they are really talking about in the long run is site governance. Who will update the content? How often? Who will validate that it does? Who will verify that the content going through the workflows is correct? Does it convey the proper corporate tone and messaging? Does it correspond to other content already on the web site? All that to say, that while the CMS can be made to do any number of things – don’t complicate it if you don’t have to. It’s typically cost inhibitive and can introduce complex and laborious online interactions just to get content on your site.
  • Time will be needed: During the requirements gathering, information design, visual design stages, and content entry/site building – people will need to be available in order to clarify requirements, approve or help circulate information and visual design for approval, and provide subject matter expertise concerning content (whether that is writing it or helping to collect and tag it)
  • Implement the site for your users: The site must be implemented in such a manner that ensures it is updateable by your staff. This is what I like to term the “technology experience” – if you build an intuitive site tree, with easily found reusable content components, simple workflows, and an easy to preview/update site – people will continue to use it. If you must update a page in 10 different hard to find places the site will become stale and your long-term goals will not be met.
  • Do your homework: You’ll hear me say this over and over again. Yes, you can rely on an implementation partner to guide you through the gotcha’s and the road blocks – that’s what we’re for after all – but hopefully you’ve identified some of these shortcomings during your evaluation/selection phase. The reason is pretty simple: that great widget you’ve used to help sell your new site? What if it relies on functionality that is enormously difficult to custom build due to a specific CMS shortcoming? Know that before hand. This is again a case for your implementation partner or an impartial group like CMS Watch to help you thoroughly understand the product you are selecting.
  • Unrealistic expectations around the amount of development involved in achieving the desired functionality with that particular syste Failure Implications CMS does not live up to desired Features and Functionality CMS implementation is abandoned or corners are cut Need things accelerated to meet deadlines (cut corners, put things in parallel instead of in serial Starting too late Adding to much to the scope
  • You’ll need to ensure that everyone involved understands that the implementation of a new CMS, often accompanied by a site redesign, can be a long and involved process. It’s necessary to take certain steps – even if they seem extraneous. The diagram here contains just the high level buckets of an entire redesign. Each of those buckets contains many sub-components that may or may not be necessary for your needs. (LIST A FEW from EACH)
  • I don’t mean to assume that your entire project will be flawed – but that small things will require going back and updating the plan. Requirements will be clarified and different points of view will be brought in on the way. Plan for slow downs and rework and you won’t be caught by surprise. If you do usability testing to verify that your architecture, design, or some widget works the way you want it to – make sure to include a time to revisit the area being tested and update it appropriately. By updating it, you’ll need to refine the requirements, any use cases and test plans associated, and ensure your implementation specifications are up to date as well.
  • You’ll gather an amazing amount of ideas and concepts for your website during all of the phases. Some of them will be very useful while others may not fit in with your overall web strategy. Instead of saying no, or being forced to cram everything in to an initial site launch – create a parking lot of ideas. Phase 2, Phase 3 – the site isn’t fully baked on your first release – you will have to add and iterate over time. Explain that to your stakeholders as you go through the process. This will give everyone at least the feeling that you heard them and their ideas – whether or not you can execute them all in your particular timeline is another matter entirely.
  • Failure Implications You will need to replace the system quickly or you will fall behind Cost of a new CMS Effort for content re-migration
  • Do your homework: Discuss the way in which the products you are evaluating (or have selected) can be extended. Can you simple drop a java or .net class in? Is it a locked down or proprietary system? While the industry is moving away from this trend, there are still CMS products (especially SAAS) that limit your ability to extend. For some sites, this is fine – is it for you?
  • Imagine the future: While not an easy task, you need to imagine your web site evolving in the future. People usually get nervous at this and don’t really want to take on that piece of crystal ball rubbing. Don’t. Look back at your companies usage of the web over the last five years. Look at the explosive growth that happened during that time – what use did you make of it? Was the lack of uptake on the new trends because of your technology, lack of need, or other matters like budget/resources? If it was because of your technology, then take a few moments and identify what it would have taken to publish your content in a mobile device, to take your content and make it available as an RSS feed, sharable (bite sized) in Twitter, FaceBook, Dig, Delicious, etc. What other uses will your site take on? The big concept, which is really one that is being finally realized today due to technology catching up to dreams, is the concept of Web Experience Management. Do you want to be able to track your online presence, see how people perceive you in the social marketplace, analyze your email and web campaigns, and at the same time manage all your content? Then pick a CMS that can either do that already or has plans to do it in the future. Alterian, SDL Tridion, Sitecore, Fatwire, are all products that are taking steps to become the next one-stop-shop CMS platform.
  • Trend Recognition: Look at your CMS Product’s history. Have they realized and kept up with industry trends. Do they have an accessible API? Do they have social presence capabilities, can the publish to mobile, can they easily manage taxonomies/meta-data, updatable workflows, and multi-channel publishing? What do they have in store for the future? What’s their road map? Get the answers before you spend thousands on product and hundreds of thousands of dollars implementing it.
  • Why Could Your CMS Implementation Fail?

    1. 1. Why Could Your CMS Implementation Fail? A Webinar Lead By Dustin Collis, Director of Development
    2. 2. NavigationArts Profile <ul><li>NavigationArts helps market-leading organizations optimize their online channels for communications, commerce and community. We offer a full-range professional services related to the planning, evaluation, design and development of effective web sites, intranets, portals and web applications. </li></ul><ul><li>2001 </li></ul><ul><li>McLean, Virginia </li></ul><ul><li>60+ </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplined, innovative, spirit-of-service </li></ul><ul><li>User-experience as the only sustainable competitive advantage online </li></ul><ul><li>Web Strategy Information Architecture Visual Design Content Management Technology Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Awarded ten 2009 Web Awards from the WMA </li></ul><ul><li>Founded </li></ul><ul><li>Headquarters </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Staff </li></ul><ul><li>Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Ruling Passion </li></ul><ul><li>Centers of Excellence </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition </li></ul>
    3. 3. Introducing… Dustin Collis <ul><li>Director of Development at NavigationArts </li></ul><ul><li>Specialties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CMS Selection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CMS Implementation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search Implementation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E-Commerce Integration </li></ul></ul>06/29/10
    4. 4. What is Web Content Management? Managing the text, images, flash, PDFs, and other multimedia that make up your Web site(s) 06/29/10
    5. 5. What is a Web Content Management System? A software system that helps you manage the content that appears on your Web site(s) <ul><ul><li>Provides a central repository for your Web site content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishes content to your Web site(s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables companies to exert greater control over the branding and presentation of their Web properties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps to establish a repeatable and tunable process for creating, testing, approving, and deploying content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplifies content re-use </li></ul></ul>06/29/10
    6. 6. CMS Vendors… (just a few) 06/29/10
    7. 7. Warning <ul><li>According to Forrester Research, more than 60% of Web Managers are dissatisfied with their current CMS </li></ul>06/29/10
    8. 8. Results of a Successful CMS Implementation <ul><li>Enables your Web site to have content that is…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engaging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fresh </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timely </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-usable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Helps meet business needs including… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multi-channel content delivery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Optimized communication and engagement with site visitors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building a true online presence that reflects your evolving brand and message </li></ul></ul>06/29/10 @
    9. 9. Results of a Successful CMS Implementation <ul><li>Web site is managed by Marketing Team vs. IT Department </li></ul><ul><li>Developers can focus on new capabilities to add value/functionality instead of maintaining site </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to target existing content to new technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>iPhone, widgets, iPad, Androids, RSS, blogs, and future emerging technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increased traffic, findability and search engine rankings </li></ul>06/29/10
    10. 10. Implications of Failure <ul><li>No one likes to use the CMS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stale Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decreased focus on Web site </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IT becomes bogged down with CMS upkeep “firefighting”, fixing bugs </li></ul><ul><li>You begin to hear the answer “Can’t” or “Expensive” when it comes to adding more capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>You will replace your CMS more quickly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effort to re-migrate content to new CMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lowers morale and adoption of the site by internal users </li></ul></ul>06/29/10
    11. 11. Things to Consider Up Front <ul><li>Desired Features and Functionality </li></ul><ul><li>Usability for content authors / web managers </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Platform and development languages: Java, .NET, PHP, etc. Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Openness and Extensibility </li></ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul>06/29/10
    12. 12. CMS Selection Tips <ul><li>Include your CMS users (marketing/web team) in the evaluation. They are the ones who are going to have to use it. </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional Checklist-style evaluations usually produce the answer YES for all CMS systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Find out how much development is actually needed before that system can achieve a yes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to write scenario narratives as a better evaluation method </li></ul></ul>06/29/10
    13. 13. 3 Top Reasons for Failure <ul><li>Complexity of the System and Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Extended Timelines and Cost Overages </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of Flexibility and Extensibility of the System </li></ul>06/29/10
    14. 14. Complexity of the System and Implementation : The Problem <ul><li>Some CMS’s are more proprietary than others </li></ul><ul><li>Some focus on larger content management scenarios such as enterprise document management that make them less optimized for web content management </li></ul><ul><li>The CMS has “hoops”, “gotchas”, “tricks” you can only know about from experience, blogs, training or word-of-mouth </li></ul><ul><li>Complexity and ease of use for both Web managers and developers </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of an ongoing support system – training, developer community, availability of documentation </li></ul>06/29/10
    15. 15. Complexity of the System and Implementation : The Solution <ul><li>Plan first, build once </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure the complexity of the system does not overwhelm your actual needs </li></ul>06/29/10
    16. 16. Complexity of the System and Implementation : The Solution <ul><li>Plan first, build once </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure the complexity of the system does not overwhelm your actual needs </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the size of your implementation, you will need to prepare your internal staff that their time will be needed. </li></ul>06/29/10
    17. 17. Complexity of the System and Implementation : The Solution <ul><li>Plan first, build once </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure the complexity of the system does not overwhelm your actual needs </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the size of your implementation, you will need to prepare your internal staff that their time will be needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Implement the site for your users </li></ul>06/29/10 Intuitive site tree Reusable content
    18. 18. Complexity of the System and Implementation : The Solution <ul><li>Plan first, build once </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure the complexity of the system does not overwhelm your actual needs </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the size of your implementation, you will need to prepare your internal staff that their time will be needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Implement the site for your users </li></ul><ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul>06/29/10
    19. 19. Extended Timelines and Cost Overages : The Problem <ul><li>Unrealistic expectations around the amount of development involved </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to understand the necessary phases for full implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to understand the costs and associated skill sets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal hosting vs. external hosting provider such as Rackspace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developers – availability, community, training schedules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content migration – in-house vs. outsourced? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing maintenance – who? </li></ul></ul>06/29/10
    20. 20. Extended Timelines and Cost Overages : The Solution <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul>06/29/10
    21. 21. Extended Timelines and Cost Overages : The Solution <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Achieve buy-in for entire scope of work </li></ul>06/29/10
    22. 22. Extended Timelines and Cost Overages : The Solution <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Achieve buy-in for entire scope of work </li></ul><ul><li>Assume that mistakes will be made and rework will be required </li></ul>06/29/10
    23. 23. Extended Timelines and Cost Overages : The Solution <ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Achieve buy-in for entire scope of work </li></ul><ul><li>Assume that mistakes will be made and rework will be required </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to your scope – use “Phase 2” as a parking lot for all of the great ideas you uncover </li></ul>06/29/10
    24. 24. Lack of Flexibility and Extensibility of the System : The Problem <ul><li>CMS – Proprietary ways prevent or inhibit standard integration points </li></ul><ul><li>Publishing paradigm not well suited for broader uses (mobile, social) </li></ul><ul><li>Too difficult for most developers, requires too much training </li></ul><ul><li>CMS limitations are not known up front </li></ul>06/29/10
    25. 25. Lack of Flexibility and Extensibility of the System : The Solution <ul><li>Build for today, plan for the future </li></ul><ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul>06/29/10
    26. 26. Lack of Flexibility and Extensibility of the System : The Solution <ul><li>Build for today, plan for the future </li></ul><ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine the future of your Web needs </li></ul>06/29/10
    27. 27. Lack of Flexibility and Extensibility of the System : The Solution <ul><li>Build for today, plan for the future </li></ul><ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine the future of your Web needs </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that your CMS has a track record of trend recognition </li></ul>06/29/10 Plan for the road ahead
    28. 28. Q & A with Dustin 06/29/10 Selected NavigationArts Clients:
    29. 29. THANK YOU <ul><li>Contact Us </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>www.navigationarts.com </li></ul><ul><li>703.584.8935 </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: @navigationarts </li></ul>06/29/10