Sunday, March 9, 2008

Speak Nicely About Your New WCMS System - Even if You Hate It

As a Web content professional, when you get a nice, shiny, new version 1.0 of a new WCMS system, I promise you will have a long list of things you hate. Absolutely hate. It’s too slow, workflow is buggy, it’s too hard to use, HTML generation takes forever, where did my changes go, and on and on. Once you start to use it, you will find a hundred things you wish were implemented differently. Be very, very careful about how you talk about this new, and admittedly, ugly baby. You will be living with it for a long time.

I learned this one the hard way. To get all the benefit out of a WCMS, you will need a lot of people throughout the organization to play a part. We made the mistake of being very vocal about early problems. We complained for hours about how painful it was to get even a small amount of work done. So much so that now, years later, I still get a huge pushback every time I try to pull an outside department into the WCMS development process. They heard so much bad news about the system when it first launched that now when they hear the term ‘WCMS’ used, they run the other way. Suddenly they are swamped and have no time to participate as a reviewer in WCMS workflow. “Can you just send us a hardcopy that we can mark up?” No, we can’t. That causes all kinds of problems. That’s why we have workflow.

One by one, we have addressed the problems and limitations of our early system. It is light years better than when we started, but THAT message is not very interesting and no one hears it. All they remember is how the content team had to work until midnight every night to get a meager amount of content through the system and generated and they run the other way. It’s too late for us. I’ll be fighting this battle for years. Don’t make the same mistake.

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