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Pathfinding in the CMS Jungle NERCOMP 2005 Rich Garcia, MIT Jay Collier, Dartmouth Cecilia Marra, MIT.

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Presentation on theme: "Pathfinding in the CMS Jungle NERCOMP 2005 Rich Garcia, MIT Jay Collier, Dartmouth Cecilia Marra, MIT."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pathfinding in the CMS Jungle NERCOMP 2005 Rich Garcia, MIT Jay Collier, Dartmouth Cecilia Marra, MIT

2 Copyright notice Copyright Richard Garcia, Jay F. Collier, and Cecilia Marra, This work is the intellectual property of the authors. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the authors. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the authors.

3 The old days One author writes the page Author uses own personal style preferences Publish it once Update it rarely Wysiwyg editors made it easy

4 Now W3C standards Professional appearance Branding Unified look and feel Frequent content editing Life cycles Coordination of multiple authors Etc., etc.

5 Products to the rescuemaybe Content Management Systems by the score Different feature sets Hosted or local installation Licensing and maintenance fees Platform requirements And more Advertised as CMS, but really do different things Blogs, discussion boards, knowledge management systems

6 Oops! Doesn't meet users' needs. Too difficult to use. Too expensive to maintain. No one to call when something goes wrong. Extra features aren't really needed. Incompatible with other software products, hardware platforms, etc.

7 The fuzzy front end The biggest mistakes in any large system design are usually made on the first day. Robert Spinrad Vice President, Xerox Corp.

8 Pathfinding A process called Discovery

9 What it is A defined, consistent methodology applied to every project proposal Thoroughly investigate project proposals before they start Bring project management discipline to the front end of every project Asks the questions: Should we be doing this at all? If so, what will it take to make this project a success?

10 Areas of investigation Feasibility Cost Cost-benefit Staffing Integration into the IT environment Alignment with IT strategic vision Support/maintenance requirements Staff impacts Customer needs and impact Product requirements Roll-out strategy

11 The Discovery methodology Find a project sponsor Write a charter Put together a team Find out what customers really need Evaluate possible solutions against customers' needs Present recommendations to sponsor

12 Part 2 What Dartmouth Discovered

13 CMS Discovery 2002 Pre-discovery goals Discovery environment Discovery methodology Final recommendation Discovery outcome Lessons learned

14 Pre-discovery goals Evolution (not revolution) of current processes Incremental, phased implementation Must be sustained by current staff Future scalability must be considered

15 Discovery environment Existing client roster Defined cost range Defined delivery infrastructure Permanent program already in place

16 Discovery methodology Based on MIT model Covered same breadth with less depth Clients: survey for requested features Colleagues: professional best practices Rank features: nominal group technique Match solutions to features

17 Final recommendation Matched top client needs Fell within cost range for both initial and sustaining costs Maintenance tasks were within program staff skill set Built on existing infrastructure and operations

18 Outcome (1) Sponsor approved deployment of recommended solution Deployment occurred with few problems All authoring was distributed to content experts Multiple-stage content approval process was added, as requested

19 Outcome (2) Client roster doubled in 18 months with no additional staff Success of discovery process has raised awareness of methodology

20 Lessons learned Careful definition of scope and sustainability of utmost priority Committed sponsor and client roster must buy in to discovery Evolution of existing workflows makes success more likely

21 Part 3 What MIT Discovered

22 How it began First came demand Next came defining the tool Q: When is a Knowledgebase not a Knowledgebase? A: When its a Content Management System. Both need flexible tools for workflow, lifecycle When search and retrieval matter a little less, and presentation matters a little more Then came the Discovery Project Team

23 Gathering information from the MIT community Web survey Focus groups Hands-on demo

24 CMS Truths -- The Product No one product will suit all community needs. Standards compliance matters. The product should talk to other MIT systems. Templates must be easy to use and revise. "Vanilla CMS templates are a no-go. Authors must be able to preview their content. Customers want control of the application. Many open source products have similar capabilities.

25 CMS Truths -- The Customers No product can eliminate author personalities, nor can it make content magically appear. The learning curve must be shallow. Nuff said. All products require a knowledgeable web site administrator

26 CMS Truths -- The Process: A CMS is not a substitute for a business process. A CMS can support a process but can not force compliance. Well-defined business processes offer the most promise for success. Excessively complex processes will require custom-built tools. Workflow must be adaptable, or workarounds arise. Customers need to be able to remove steps/layers of approval as needed.

27 The ever-changing CMS space No strong leader in the Higher Ed vertical University Web Developers listserv Educause Web User Group archives CMS web sites and other on-line resources The rules of elimination Functional Requirements Technical Requirements

28 Special considerations Open Source Had to build in order to test Will those technologies be the way of the future? Will the developer community stay vital? How do you develop and sell an opt-in enterprise offering?

29 And the winners are: An open-source product: Lenya An ASP-model proprietary product: Atomz A desktop authoring tool: Contribute Training Added web server tools and services

30 Where are we now? Works in Progress Piloting Contribute and adding services to Athena Seeking customers for Lenya Follow up on Atomz

31 Key Learnings Our conclusions are unique: Cultural environment Computing environment Customer requirements Methodology is universal

32 Further Information MIT's CMS report: web.mit.edu/ist/discovery/content-mgmt/ report.html Dartmouth's CMS report: The Discovery Process: web.mit.edu/ist/discovery

33 Our addresses Rich Garcia: Jay Collier: Cecilia Marra:


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