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The Natural Irrationality of Implementing CMS

Presentation given by Deane Barker, Chief Strategy Officer - Blend Interactive at the eZ event "Horizon: A Discussion on the Evolution of CMS."

This presentation discusses content management implementations, and how we develop a content strategy while facing the challenges of client relationships and projects.

It discusses client baggage – some of the fallacies that clients bring with them – and about mitigation strategies.

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The Natural Irrationality of Implementing CMS

  1. 1. The Natural Irrationality of Implementing CMS What our clients do wrong, how their expectations are unrealistic, and what we can do to help.
  2. 2. I’m Deane. @gadgetopia
  3. 3. We build mental models.
  4. 4. We build positive mental models of successful scenarios.
  5. 5. We constantly and subconsciously compare situations to those positive mental models.
  6. 6. We learn to “smell” a bad situation.
  7. 7. How do we identify accurate mental models of a good client relationship?
  8. 8. ________________? The Baggage We Bring to Software Projects and What To Do About It
  9. 9. What We’re Going to Discuss 1. What baggage clients bring with them 2. What we can do about this baggage
  10. 10. The Baggage • The Phantom Menace • “I Know It When I See It” • Majoring in the Minors • Deus Ex Machina • Irrational Uniformity
  11. 11. #1 The Phantom Menace
  12. 12. Clients know what they’re doing. They have a very limited and slanted view of what other people are doing.
  13. 13. Case Study Syndrome • “I read this in a case study, so clearly everyone is doing it.” • People don’t write case studies about things that didn’t happen. • Form of Survivor Bias. • No one writes case studies about the 99% of companies that aren’t doing anything interesting
  14. 14. CMS can be like sex in high school Everyone talks about it… No one knows how to do it… Still, everyone is convinced everyone else is doing it… So everyone wants to do it themselves… But in the end, no one is actually doing it.
  15. 15. Clients can have a completely inaccurate picture of their current state or what their end goal should be.
  16. 16. The Phantom Menace is all the things your client is convinced they should be doing.
  17. 17. #2 “I’ll Know It When I See It”
  18. 18. There are often no metrics for project evaluation.
  19. 19. Your client knows what a successful project is…but they can’t tell you what this is.
  20. 20. How Projects Fail • Abortive Fails to launch • Quantitative Fails to make project numbers • Qualitative / ROI Doesn’t bring about desired change • Expectations “It just doesn’t feel like I thought it would.” (This is the thing that never gets said out loud…)
  21. 21. “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.” - Potter Stewart, Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964)
  22. 22. “Do I feel good about this?”
  23. 23. “I’ll know it when I see feel it.”
  24. 24. #3 Majoring in the Minors
  25. 25. If you don’t know the goal, you don’t know the steps to get there.
  26. 26. Clients often want effort put into things that don’t provide any measurable value.
  27. 27. There’s some amount of fixation on signals that they associate with a “good” project.
  28. 28. Things like… • Workflow • Dashboards • Multi-site management • Digital Asset Management • Exhaustive management
  29. 29. What actually provides value?
  30. 30. “Return on Management”
  31. 31. #4 Deus Ex Machina Syndrome
  32. 32. We want a perfect, instant resolution.
  33. 33. The Truth • There’s a good chance their problems originated external to the CMS • They tend not to look to people, training, or process, because those things existed prior to the CMS • If they could have been fixed without the implementation, why weren’t they? • A CMS implementation goes from nothing to something. It’s easy to say, “things will be better because we’ll have something we didn’t have before.”
  34. 34. #5 Irrational Uniformity
  35. 35. Going outside a CMS platform is considered a failure at some level.
  36. 36. Better As Integrations • Analytics • Marketing Automation • Email Distribution • Ecommerce
  37. 37. The future of content management might be distributed, in terms of both content creation and channels.
  38. 38. What We Can Do
  39. 39. Before you get too impressed with yourselves… • “The Smartest People in the Room” • “All I Have Is This Hammer” • “Just Another Project” • “Castles in the Sky” • “The Appearance Package”
  40. 40. #1 Find The Client’s Success Model
  41. 41. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could get a set of quantifiable metrics?
  42. 42. “Six months after this site launches, what needs to happen for you to think that it was all worth it?”
  43. 43. Questions to Ask • Who is the ultimate stakeholder? • How far up the org chart can we consult about goals? • What other projects are you using as a metric for this one? • Competitor projects • Internal projects • What perception made these other projects successful?
  44. 44. #2 Approach the Implementation Holistically
  45. 45. Non-Construction Tasks • Deciding to move • Developing floor plans • Buying a lot • Budgeting for construction • Preparing to move • Actually moving • Redecorating • Buying new stuff • Learning how to use new stuff • Planning new services • Planning new commute • Changing schools • Changing vehicles • Sending address changes
  46. 46. How many non-development items are in your project plan?
  47. 47. Stuff Outside Our Boundaries • Governance planning • Training • Re-training • Internal Marketing • Post-Occupancy Evaluations • Content Migration/Operations • Documentation • QA • Political/Organizational Disputes • Post-Launch Revisions • Staff Turnover/Continuity • Content Creation Planning
  48. 48. #3 Prepare to Put Rough Edges in Perspective
  49. 49. Vendors and integrators are in an arms race of promises.
  50. 50. Factors to Determine ROM • Velocity of the change • How often does it occur? • Lead time of the change • How far will we be able to see it coming? • Proximity to the development team • Can we reasonably code-source something to save budget?
  51. 51. Have honest, direct conversations about budget/polish trade-off.
  52. 52. #4 Position the CMS as an Integration Platform
  53. 53. Seeking functionality outside the CMS should be considered a strength, not a failure.
  54. 54. We should evaluate a CMS based on its ability to integrate.
  55. 55. Things we should be prepared to do… • Source content from outside the CMS • Why does content creation have to be within the CMS? • Editorial aggregation systems are starting to tip • Deliver content to alternate channels • Implement client-side marketing tools • Use external search tools
  56. 56. #5 Prepare the Client for Evolutionary Improvement
  57. 57. Actually make “Phase 1.1” project happen….
  58. 58. The Truth • A percentage of what you implement won’t work • It won’t fit the client’s content/marketing model • They won’t be able to staff it • Existing staff will turnover • Their plans will change over time • Prepare them for the idea that this is a process, not a moment
  59. 59. Tactics • Define expectations for relationship post launch • Will it continue? • Is the client taking over development? • Try to identify a 3-year budget • Structure the budget to allow for annual improvement allowances • Do the build on 60%-70% of that, and stagger the rest over years two and three? • Actively plan a staged launch
  60. 60. Advocacy Honesty Realism
  61. 61. @gadgetopia deane@blendinteractive.c om