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DSC Tech Library

Contact Management Software

CRM Customer Relationship Management This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CRM Solutions and Customer relationship management software and products. Providing customer service is vital to maintaining successful business relationships. Accurate and timely information provided in a professional manner is the key to any business and service operation. Telemation, our CRM software application, was built on this foundation. But the flexibility to change is just as important in this dynamic business environment. Telemation call center software was designed with this concept from the very beginning. That is why so many call center managers, with unique and changing requirements, have chosen and continue to use Telemation CRM software as their solution. Our Telemation CRM solution is ideally suited for call center service bureaus.

Why Content Management Fails

By: Jeffrey Veen, Partner
Source: Adaptive Path

So many of the companies Iíve spoken to lately have complained about the content on their Web sites. They say itís woefully out of date, growing out of control, and generally a complete mess. Almost unanimously, these companies have chosen to solve the problem by handing it to their IT departments.

ďFind a way to manage content,Ē they demand, ďand donít break the bank doing it!Ē Companies swallow the enterprise software pitch of decentralization. They think that by distributing content creation theyíre empowering business units to manage their own areas of the site. They do this hoping that the units can satisfy audience needs without requesting IT help for every little site change.

The CMS Myth

The idea is enticing. Empowered departments of a big enterprise, all publishing content directly to their customers through standard templates. The site continues to grow, but in a controlled way. And these business units have complete control of what is and isnít online.

Sounds good, but just try putting it into practice. In a report published last year, Jupiter Research uncovered some startling findings. ďOf just under 100 companies Ö only 27 percent of companies surveyed planned to continue using their Web content management systems as they do now.Ē

So why do these CMS projects almost always fail?

People Problems

Iíve spoken to a number of Web teams that have used a CMS with varying levels of success. One problem I heard repeatedly was that the project worked fine, but nobody used the software once it was available. I call this the Stupid User Argument, and itís a favorite of IT departments. The techies did their jobs, after all: They diligently gathered requirements, scoped out the solution, carefully selected a vendor, and managed the project to a mostly on-time and on-budget conclusion.

So how come nobody actually uses these systems once theyíre in place? The answer is easy: People donít like to change the way they work, particularly knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers spend years building strategies to accomplish their jobs, practices that likely date back to study skills acquired during their education. So changing those processes ó no matter how valid the provided technical solution ó is nearly impossible. Users will rebel, even after substantial training.

To have any chance of success, a content management project must follow the same user-centered design practices as any other project. Task analysis, rapid prototyping, usability testing ó all of these methods are crucial to a CMS rollout. Itís foolhardy to unveil a mammoth, nine-month project to an unsuspecting user community and expect adoption.

But there is a larger issue at play. Even the most thoughtful projects may be misguided. Over and over Iíve heard the same complaint about these projects, ďTurns out, after all the budget and time we spent, we really didnít need a content management system at all. We just needed some editors.Ē

Editorial Process

Content management is not a technology problem. If youíre having trouble managing the content on your Web site, itís because you have an editorial process problem. Your public-facing Web site is a publication. Treat it like one.

If youíre not in the business of producing publications, you wonít be able to do better by plugging in a technology and crossing your fingers. Rather, solve the problem with people. Hereís why:

  • All publications require editorial expertise. Few companies are publishing companies; most provide other kinds of goods and services. Yet over the last few years, every company has found that it must build and maintain what is essentially a constantly updated publication: a corporate Web site. Publishing is a skill set that most organizations have never needed, but one thatís integral to producing a quality site.
  • To succeed, you must separate content and process from software. Serving a Web site is a technology issue, so IT should manage it, right? Wrong. Would you let the printing press operator be involved in your editorial process? Of course not.
  • Put editors in charge. You need an editorial staff in place to make the content on your site as interesting and consistent as it can be. That staff may just be one executive editor, but nothing should go online without that personís approval. As your Web strategy grows, so too should that staff.

How It Works

Set up a process something like this: An editor manages all content on the site. Give that editor a staff of writers to send out into your business units. These writers act like reporters in the field, working on stories that they submit to a copy desk.

The stories are then compared against editorial and corporate style guides, producing consistent, professional content. That content goes to your legal and marketing departments for approval if necessary. Only then does it go online.

Once you have a proven and smooth editorial process in place, and have a strong team managing that content, you can start to think about making them more efficient with technology. Outline your process, sit down with CMS vendors and say, ďLook, here are the steps that we have in place to create and maintain our content. Here are the tools we use to do our jobs. None of this is going to change. Can you help us be more efficient and effective?Ē

Youíre running the conversation, not them. Ignore their pitches for fantastic new features; those are just frosting. You need to get things done, and they need to prove their expensive software can do it.

A Sound Strategy

This is more than just a way to manage content, itís the beginning of a content strategy ó a plan for how your site will respond to your customers, inform them, and help them make decisions that will ultimately increase their loyalty to you and your site.

And frankly, I could not care less what system you use to publish it.

Jeffrey Veen, Partner
Jeffrey Veen is a founding partner of Adaptive Path, the world's premier user experience consulting company. He launched in 1994, and is author of The Art & Science of Web Design and HotWired Style. Clients include PeopleSoft, PBS, and Macromedia.