Matching Content Management Scale With Function
Tips to make sure your next upgrade will accommodate your company‚Äôs growth.
One of the most important things to consider when planning your next CMS upgrade is the rate at which your company‚Äôs needs might change in the future. At the time of the upgrade, your Web site may offer a range of content types, such as articles, blogs and videos, but as content platform options grow, your company may want explore how other opportunities might fit into your content management needs, such as podcasts, social networking and even syndication deals.
When b-to-b publisher Reed Business Information wanted to swap out its in-house legacy CMS system for a third-party solution last year, the company was looking for a new system that would give them access to the latest CMS technology and allow them to increase their efficiency. ‚ÄúOur old system wasn‚Äôt flexible and didn‚Äôt allow us to expand the way we needed it to,‚ÄĚ said Traci Young, VP, product development, RBInteractive. ‚ÄúFor example, it allowed us to input articles, blogs, videos and podcasts, but we didn‚Äôt have the ability to take those mediums and build pages around them.‚ÄĚ
Hearst Digital Media, on the other hand, was starting from scratch three-and-a-half years ago when it wanted to split its brands‚Äô online presence away from iVillage. ‚ÄúWe were pretty lucky that we got to start from scratch,‚ÄĚ said SVP/CIO Debra Robinson. ‚ÄúThere was no legacy system, so there were a lot of opportunities to learn from other companies.‚ÄĚ
What both publishers did have in common, however, was that they wanted to have systems that were both scalable and flexible. FOLIO: asked Young and Robinson to offer their opinions on how to make sure all options are accounted for when the time comes for a CMS upgrade or overhaul.
Open Source = Flexibility
Choosing an open source CMS system, Young said, allowed RBI to add functions as they found them necessary. ‚ÄúWhen we were putting together the new system, for example, we integrated WordPress, which is a standard open source blogging tool,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúWith the legacy system, we had a proprietary blog tool that made it hard for external bloggers to use. Implementing WordPress streamlined the process.‚ÄĚ
Robinson said an open source system allowed Hearst to build its system within its own framework. ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt want to be reliant on software vendors for upgrades or deal with licensees,‚ÄĚ she said.
Think About Interchangeability
Hearst‚Äôs system, which consists of content management, marketing, promotion and ad management, and circulation marketing, is built with a bundle of solution software (database management system, web server, operating system and scripting language) ‚ÄĒor a LAMP stack‚ÄĒ that works together, but allows the company to have even more flexibility. ‚ÄúIt allows us to change modules in and out,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúIf we want to move to another database or if we wanted to change the presentation layer for the Web, we could.‚ÄĚ
Give the Tech Department a Break
One of the best ways to ensure that the tech department is staying on top of new growth issues is to let editors, marketers and other teams have more control within the system. ‚ÄúIf they have more control, they won‚Äôt keep coming back to tech for changes or requests,‚ÄĚ Robinson said. ‚ÄúLet the team instead worry about new modules and functionalities.‚ÄĚ
Prioritize the Most Desirable Functionality
Instead of trying to implement all of the functions you want your upgraded system to have, it might be best to create a ‚Äúwish list,‚ÄĚ according to Young. ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt want to further delay getting the initial system rolled out,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThere are so many functions that your company will think of along the way that might make it harder to get the system deployed. Think about creating a ‚Äėphase 2‚Äô list before attempting to do everything at once. ‚ÄĚ