Expert Tips on Implementing an Enterprise Content Management System

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On overcoming political obstacles

Deal with political obstacles head on as early as possible. Politics is part of life, including office life, so don’t lose sleep over it. — Tony Byrne

Get everyone involved in the planning (IT, writers, management, and so on) and consult with industry experts for an outside, unbiased opinion. — Suzanne Mescan

ECM implementations, like any other enterprise initiative, need a cohesive focus on the people, process, and technologies that drive the information you deliver to customers. — Leonor Ciarlone

Probably the most important goal in managing the political side of a CMS sale is to let people understand that a CMS system does not have to be a one-size-fits-all replacement for every department’s pet project. If the business benefits are sold properly to senior management, a CMS system should be seen as a repository and delivery system for specific kinds of business functions that can draw upon and not necessarily replace existing content platforms. Most importantly, make sure that you address the concerns of not just IT managers, but also key departmental managers. Since CMS systems often address cross-departmental business needs, you need to get those department managers jazzed about the CMS being attached to business benefits that help them look better to their bosses. — John Blossom

On selecting a vendor

Select a CMS product that closely meets your business needs in terms of scale and functionality. Avoid vendors that are targets for takeover by larger firms. — Philip Kurinsky

Visit customers who have existing installations. See the tool in an environment as similar to your company, then meet representatives from the vendor and make sure that you feel comfortable with the support staff. — Teresa Welch

Don’t let vendors get you off track. If you are looking to improve how everyday employees collaborate and share information, your primary concern should be usability and achieving high adoption. If you need greater control over complex, regulatory-driven processes, you may want to focus on a long checklist of features. The solution you choose in the former case should look very different from the one you pick in the latter. Don’t let vendors talk you into complex features your users will never use and will make management more difficult and costly. — Mark Suster

Try to look forward to the next generation of CMS. Newer CMS vendors are more adept at integrating existing content repositories into a CMS while allowing them to be maintained independently. You don’t necessarily have to think of a CMS as a project that will require many different constituencies to pour their content into a central database forever. CMS can act as a production layer that addresses specific business needs on top of those existing repositories. — John Blossom

Generate your list of requirements based on a specific set of business problems that you hope to solve with the CMS. Requirements should come from business units—IT should evaluate the CMS only for purposes of determining whether the preferred CMS will fit into the enterprise’s technology infrastructure. — Tony White

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