Competing in the Race to Enterprise Content Management

finish line

Competing in the Race to Enterprise Content Management

Posted on October 2016

Finish Line

Let's see.......  I believe we have a very good idea about where the Finish Line is.  It is at the place where your content is structured, shared, reusable, publishable, managed, and cost-effective. 

As I see it, the finish line is not up for debate.  But there are at least two issues to consider:

Where is the Starting Line?  And...... How do we get from the Starting Line to the Finish Line?

Your Starting Line

Finding this is relatively easy because the good news is that your Starting Line is wherever you are right now.  The bad news is that you may be looking to your left and to your right and you don't see a lot of other runners or you only see a couple of runners.  But you know there are dozens in the race. 

That's because the others in your organization are starting from a different place. The truth is that they are running a different race and they may even have a different Finish Line.

Some people are starting from the technical areas.  They know what XML is.  They are or will become comfortable with technical editors like XMetaL or Oxygen.

Others are in the training group, or product management or compliance. They see the advantages of consistency to improve reader performance, the brand, reuse, and an XML architecture. Of course that will facilitate giving information consumers just enough, just in time content on the device of their choice.  You might be able to see some of these other Starting Lines because they are relatively close to yours.  Like you, these racers have a lot of priorities that are not technical. Their performance, recognition, rewards, and satisfaction come from the business of the business and not from the business of the technical.

But then, way "over there" you see the runners in the technical group at their Starting Line.  They have really nice uniforms and the best sneakers. They look like they are in shape.  You wonder how you are going to make it through this race.

A voice calls to you that you have comfortable sneakers and a running outfit that is tried and true.  You can make it work.

The reality is that there is no such thing as one enterprise content management effort. Such initiatives are nice in theory, but impossible in practice.

The Race Course

All you need to do is get from the Starting Line to the Finish Line.  So the race begins.  You hear some technical people screaming, "We have a $500,000 component content management system."  "You need 47 fields of metadata."  "We spent $250,000 last year on consultants."   This is why those runners are actually in a different race.

So please remember that you are running your own race.  You can and probably should start by getting your content structured.  You can even save it on a local file system in your computer, on SharePoint, or on SQL server.  Nothing too fancy, or expensive is required to get started.  Your non-technical authors can stay in their comfort zones with MS Word which is a familiar and widely used authoring tool. Content Mapper lets the author see MS Word while the repository sees the ugly but useful XML  The reason it works for the enterprise is that different groups can have a different level of granularity under the same XML structure.  With Content Mapper each group can constrain its document architecture to what is appropriate for that group.

If you already have a high end CCMS and everyone can use it, that's great!  Use it.  But otherwise you can start your race by getting your content in order so that it has consistency and meaning. You probably want to start with limited reuse and flexible publishing in your group. Pace yourself and don't let the runners who go out quick entice you out of your comfort zone. There are various ways to structure your content and it is relatively easy to do this.  Technology helps, but the good race is often run with structured writing in the forefront.  And as you bring more people into the fold you might want the facilities of a CCMS. There are some great systems that can meet your needs within your budget constraints.

What is winning?

You have finished the race when you see improvements from a modern approach to enterprise content management in your group. It starts at the enterprise level by winning the race from your Starting Line and then sharing your success with like-minded colleagues.

Winning big is when your organization gets the advantages of enterprise content management at the right level for each and every department's needs.

One last perspective to remember.....

For you, this effort should be long walk and possibly a 10K, but it is definitely not a sprint or a marathon.