Selecting a Content Management System

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JoAnn Hackos, PhD
CIDM Director
www.infomanagementcenter.com

Your output requirements will drive many of your decisions when selecting a content management system. An abbreviated version of the checklist from my book, Content Management for Dynamic Delivery, follows to aid you in defining your output requirements.

Output requirements (assembly, linking, publishing)

  • Describe how you want your information to be available to your users. State your vision of the user experience and specify how the information needs to be available in different forms.
  • Do you want to target different versions of your information to different internal business and user groups, customer groups, or individual users (external: buyers, installers, planners, system administrators, end users, and so on; internal: business departments, employee services, engineering, product development, marketing, sales, and so on)?
  • Do you want to prepare different information according to market segments? For example, you might create different examples and case studies in information targeted for manufacturing companies versus service organizations.
  • Do you want to differentiate information based on product type or model? For example, you might have information that is specific to subsets of a product.
  • Do you have versions of your products that deliver some percentage of identical or similar functionality? What is the percentage of shared functionality?
  • Do you now deliver or do you intend to deliver information in multiple languages, localized to the particular needs of a regional or local user community?

Current delivery methods

  • What output types do you produce today (print, online context-sensitive help, Internet, intranet, extranet, CD-ROM, PDA, WAP, etc.)?
  • What different types of information, potentially using the same data, are now being produced in your larger organization (product catalogs, support information, new business proposals, policies and procedures, product development documents, training materials, reference documents, user manuals, frequently asked questions, marketing communications, data sheets, etc.)?

Future delivery methods

  • What output types would you like to be able to produce in the future?
  • Do you expect to deliver information through the web? Do you hope to broadcast to handheld devices? Do you want information to be integrated with a software product interface in the form of context-sensitive help?
  • Do you want your customers to be able to configure their own information from a web site, a CD-ROM, or other electronic device?
  • Do you want to be able to update information at any time?
  • Do you intend to give customers access to customer support information (for example, a customer support database) as well as more formally produced information?
  • Do you want to be able to connect customer information to other information about your product and its buyers? Would it be useful to anticipate the specific configurations of the customers’ use of the products as soon as they enter a web site? Do you want to identify customers according to logons and passwords?
  • Do you want to be able to track users or customers in their progress through your web-delivered information? Do you want to know what information they have visited?
  • Would you like to obtain immediate feedback from customers when they arrive at a particular information resource? Do you want to know if the customers find the information to be useful or to respond to their questions?
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