Masterminding Content Management

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Version Control
Version control involves the change control procedures related to content, other Web components (e.g., script source code), and CM system components (e.g., templates, workflow). Version control helps ensure that only one person at a time is making changes to a particular asset, captures the state of the file before and after modifications, stores and displays audit information, and provides the ability to revert to a previous version. Version control is best integrated with all other functionality, but can also be easily added. Version control is highly recommended functionality because of the value it provides.

Interwoven TeamSite has excellent version control functionality, also allowing file creation and editing to occur in a sandbox, separate from the remainder of the development environment. This feature provides you with powerful "what-if" functionality. Desktop Decisions

Desktop Decisions
Your users will feel most comfortable working with tools they are already familiar with, and you want to minimize their learning curve and get them contributing content as soon as possible. As previously mentioned, you also want to ensure that you do not have to train your content contributors in Web technologies like HTML and XML. Desktop integration, usually implemented through the addition of new menu items to the desktop applications, allows content contributors to feed content directly into the CM system from their desktop applications.

If a well-designed templating interface exists or the CM system has integrated content authoring as well, then desktop integration may not be as important. Integrated content authoring does not rely on the existence of desktop application, but provides its own tool. Integrated content authoring also features low learning curves, high levels of comfort, and no Web technology knowledge. However, nothing is free—integrated content authoring is frequently the mandatory entry point for content into the CM system.

An integrated content authoring tool is useful when no other authoring tools have been implemented and are frequently a mandatory part of a soup-to-nuts CM system, such as Vignette. This functionality usually locks you into a proprietary editing tool rather than a more standard desktop authoring tool or a simple text editor. Due to this limitation, you should strongly consider all options before committing to a non-standard, proprietary editing tool.

Putting it all to Work
Due to the critical nature of CM to your enterprise, the successful implementation of a CM solution is imperative. Using the definitions of CM elements and their interdependencies, you can gain an understanding of the terrain through intelligent and meaningful discourse with vendors, industry experts, analysts, and peers who have begun to attack the same problem on their own turf. Then, with careful use of requirements gathering and project approach best practices, you can clearly define a battle plan to create or buy a CM system that meets your enterprise's requirements, avoiding the typical tactical errors or planning to successfully negotiate trouble spots. With a little bit of careful planning and strategy, you may be able to win not only the battle, but the war as well, helping to ensure the longevity of your enterprise in these uncertain times.

Companies Mentioned in This Article
The Gartner Group:
Microsoft Corporation:

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