If You Feed Them, They Will Come

If You Feed Them, They Will Come

Selecting, planning and implemeting a content management system is never easy, but one CIO has the recipe for success: involve end user throughout the process and host the occasional brekkie

Round One: A Big Mistake

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the institute is the qualifying and regulatory body of Ontario's 32,000 CAs and 4000 CA students. Since 1879, the institute has protected the public interest through the CA profession's high standards of qualification and the enforcement of its rules of professional conduct.

When the institute set out to buy its first content management system as a very early adopter, its IT team chose a product they believed met their criteria and budget. That system was then presented to users as a fait accompli. The approach proved to be a big mistake. The institute's relatively unsophisticated users, still grappling with the idea of Web content, found the product unduly complicated. The institute's IT team found its efforts to get users to buy in and take ownership of the system were not well received by all staff.

"The institute was quite early in terms of developing Internet access and building a Web site, which was originally hosted outside. That meant whenever we wanted to make changes to content — even a simple data change or the removing of old content — we had to talk to the hosting company, and then wait . . . Still, it was only after we brought that Web site in-house that we understood why we needed content management," Blais says.

So, while the CMS met all of the IT requirements and was a good product to boot, (despite taking a full year to install and put into production), it was never going to be considered "successful" because it did not really meet the users' needs.

There were other issues as well. Since the software was not easy to use or very flexible, the Webmaster still needed to manage most aspects of content publishing. This created bottlenecks for getting content published on a timely basis. Enhanced workflow capabilities were also needed but unavailable and the performance was unacceptable to the point that some of the content was actually stored outside the CMS.

With the institute's growing and increased reliance on the Web site as a communications tool for its members, the previous CMS was struggling to keep pace.

"On occasions of heavy activity by our membership, we experienced major performance degradation due to the dynamic method of serving pages to users directly from the database. This was often complicated if the content was stored in a secure area of the Web site and needed user authentication," Blais recalls. "It forced us to publish the more popular content outside of the CMS."

The second time around, the institute wanted to do things differently. Blais was determined to undertake a process of end-user adoption through getting the users to provide input from day one. The first step was to meet with the users and together define the pros and cons of the current CMS, to hear what the users were looking for in a replacement CMS and to define the criteria for success that the new project would be measured against.

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